(Photo provided by Ann Ryan)

It’s late October, and we runners can find ourselves riding a wildcoaster of feelings about the season. If you’ve just completed a big race, one that perhaps you trained for (like a dedicated beast) for 4-5 months, maybe now you’re feeling either A) super-relaxed and enjoying recovery time (No early wake-ups! Eat what you want!), B) antsy and desperately in need of a new goal, or C) kind of mildly depressed that your big deal is over, and it’s just hard to get yourself out the door for mundane, pedestrian workouts. 

Alternately, you’re loving the crisp fall weather, you find yourself feeling stronger and faster, (sans all that heat & humidity, thank you), but with the end of racing season in sight, looking for new ideas to keep your motivation high. I’m with you!

So what are we all-year runners to do? Just continuing to set the alarm clock feels insufficient; a little flat. Of course, there are still a few turkey trots and holiday 5-Ks out there, and we should definitely consider the F^3 Lakefront 5K or Half Marathon in January for sheer boldness and bad-assery. 

If you’ve just completed your first, or want to continue to work on long-distance challenges, consider signing up for a CARA winter training group, either Marathon or Half-Marathon distance. (After choosing a race to train for, which is your pot-o’-gold at the end of the ice & snow rainbow.) CARA training groups meet in multiple locations throughout the city and suburbs, providing wonderful group support and fellowship for those weekend long runs. The Oak Park Runners Club holds Fun Runs every Monday night and Saturday morning. Again, group support is a great motivator when it’s dark and cold, and your left brain is whispering: “Coouuchh … Netflix …”

Bonus points: talk a friend into signing up for a race with you, and train together. Keep each other accountable to get up and out the door, and you’re killing (or rather, energizing) two birds with one stone.

Right now and right here is yet another idea, one I am going to tackle myself, for the first time. Lively Athletics is holding their 6th annual “GOvember Challenge,” which dares us to traverse on foot every street in Oak Park, November 1-30. And there are options. Take on the Hemingway (all east-west streets, about 40 miles), the Betty White (all north-south, roughly 70 miles), or the Ludacris (every darned street in OP) for the truly wacky. I’m not sure my Strava app will be able to handle this routine-breakout. But the endeavor feels so organic and celebratory to me. There must be some streets I haven’t seen, though I’ve lived here since 1992. (Not sure how much architecture and landscaping I can admire, at dark o’thirty every morning, but I’m game to try!)

Note, no fee to enter, run or walk, or a combo platter — it’s up to you! Pick up your challenge map at Lively Athletics in person or download it from their website. Follow these digital breadcrumbs for help with your November motivation, and Happy Running! www.cararuns.org, www.oprc.net, www.livelyathletics.com.

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