By Lindsey Anderson-Olympian First of all, congratulations to all of you who have signed up for either the 5k, half-marathon or full marathon that will take place in our beautiful Morgan Valley this summer! For those of you who haven’t, it will be an exciting experience, a first for Morgan Valley and I definitely encourage you to participate. I’ve hoped one day there would be a marathon in this amazing place to run and it’s about to happen for the first time in less than five months! Whether you’re doing the marathon or one of the shorter distances I just want to thank you for contributing to this occasion because without you it literally couldn’t happen, so thank you. I’ve been asked to write a few articles leading up to race day to hopefully give you some tips and inspiration along the way. Many of you have been running for a long time already and have done 5K’s, 10K’s, half-marathons, and/or full marathons while at the same time for many of you this will be a first. Either your first time running, your first time participating in an organized race, your first 5K, half-marathon, or even your first full marathon. No matter where you are in your training you can learn from this process and enjoy the race on July 30. One of my favorite things about running is that you can make it as competitive as you want. I tend to be a very competitive person so when I go to a race my goal is to win. But I also absolutely love to go out on a run where I can just enjoy the experience. Right now is the time to decide what you want to happen on July 30. NOT on race day. If you haven’t already, set goals right now on what you want to accomplish. Do you want to set a new personal record? Do you want to be first in your age group? Do you want to finish the race? Do you want to be able to run the whole race? Do you want to lose weight? Whatever the reason is behind you committing to this event, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you are going to do with this opportunity. What do you want to get out of this experience? Don’t just think about it either. WRITE IT DOWN. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about physically writing down my goals is that it gives you confidence. It changes your thoughts from thinking you can do it to knowing you can do it and being confident that you can do it. The next step after you write down your goals is to take action. If you haven’t started training yet, start today! Don’t put it off. If you are already training, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself a little harder throughout your workouts. Build up to it gradually, but don’t be content to stay at a certain level of fitness. That’s when you plateau. One thing that might help is to get with a group of people to train with who are at about the same fitness level. When you train with people, the majority of the time you will push yourself harder without even realizing it. But be smart in your training. Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently to certain workouts so the key is to have a balance. Know your body. Know when to push and when to back off a little bit. One more Leprechaun piece of advice for today, something that plays a huge part in your training is your eating and sleeping habits. Eating a healthy diet will give you the right nutrients to fuel your body so it can perform how you want it to perform. That goes for hydration as well. It is extremely important to drink healthy fluids including lots of water. And finally, go to bed! Sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice in our busy lives, but as much as possible it’s very important to give your body a chance to rest and recover so you can get stronger as you go. Until next time . . . set goals, train hard, eat/drink right, and give yourself a chance to recover! Lindsey Anderson was a member of the 2008 Summer Olympian for the United States in the 3000m Steeplechase.