The Twin Cities Marathon is next Sunday and I live less than ½ mile from the course. I love cheering everyone on – especially since where I watch it is literally downhill to the finish line – which is about 1 mile away. What is amazing to me is the vastly different goals, body types, running styles, motivation that runs (or walks) by me as I cheer. Just think about all of the different whys. Everyone on the course has their own story and their own why to make it to the finish. It always inspires me to get out and run just a bit more.
If you have been following the blog in the last month – you know my why is my sister. She is making such great progress in retraining her brain and I feel like I am a little behind in training my body. I decided today to commit myself to my first race – which was her very first half marathon – the Frozen Half Marathon in St. Paul at the end of January. It is one I have never done because I don’t LOVE running outside on the ice and snow. But – it will be in her honor and for everyone suffering from a brain injury.
So – how do you go from casually running 3 miles a few times a week (yep – that is where I am) to running a half marathon? Well …. I have a few pieces of advice for you and for myself. I am a little nervous about the work I will need to put in …. But our mantra is “Do the Work. Reap the Rewards.” Ready?
- Try the run-walk method
One of the biggest misconceptions about training for your first half marathon is that you need to run continuously from start to finish. Instead of running full out and then getting tired and discouraged – try adding some scheduled walking breaks into your runs. For instance, during my long training runs, I would sometimes alternate eight minutes of running with two minutes of walking to allow myself time to catch my breath and give my body a little rest. When it was time for me to start running again, I always felt more energized – which helped me keep up my pace. Seriously – knowing that I had a break coming soon helped keep me mentally strong when the run got really challenging.
- Fuel up
During my long training runs, I always bring some sort of fuel with me. Water is a must – and I hate carrying anything – or having anything around my waist. I have long ago decided that running with a CamelBak – and yes is it pink – it my best bet. I try to drink water every 10 – 15 minutes. I have to be on a schedule or else I sometimes forget! The nice thing about a CamelBak is that it also holds my cell phone and the other fuel I bring along with me – totally hands free. As far as other nutrition – I aim to consume 150 to 200 calories for every hour of running – so (for me) this means that I eat something every five or so miles. My favorite sources of fuel are dates and Vega Endurance Gel because they give me awesome natural sugars. There are plenty of other options out there – but these are my favorites.
- Take it one mile at a time
Thinking about running 13.1 miles can be really overwhelming – especially if it’s your first time running that distance. I used to get discouraged by the high mileage of my training runs, but I learned if I focused on one mile at a time, it made the run a lot more manageable. On especially long runs – anything over 10 miles – I would break up the miles into smaller chunks. So an 11 mile run would be one 5-mile run plus two 3-mile runs. Mentally, it was a lot easier to wrap my brain around these shorter distances, so I didn’t feel totally overwhelmed by the idea of the high mileage.
- Don’t run every day
You might think you need to run every day to properly train for a half marathon, but new (and even seasoned) runners need rest days to recover. Long distance running is hard on your body, and you’ll probably feel tired and sore while increasing your mileage during training. Be sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain. This is a hard one for me – but the last thing you want to do is get injured and not be able to run on race day. If you want to do something – cross train. Bike, swim take a group fitness or yoga class. Just do something different than running.
- Remind yourself of the end goal
Whether your training for a 5K, a half marathon or an ironman – training requires a lot of time and energy. During my training, there are often plenty of times when I don’t want to run! I’m tired. I’m busy. It’s too cold outside. But – these are just excuses. If I remind myself of my end goal – honoring my sister and raising awareness for those for who have brain injuries – I’m much more likely to lace up my sneakers and tackle my workout. I know if I want to train properly for race day, I need to stick to my training to ensure that I cross the finish line with a smile on my face!
- BONUS TIP – BODY GLIDE!!!!
If you haven’t read any of my past posts or even if you have the most important tip I have for you is Body Glide. Use it always. Use it liberally. Put it everywhere. EVERYWHERE! Trust me on this one.
I would love to hear about your experiences – and your tips!
Move your body, put good things in and ENJOY every day!
Ultimate Half Marathon Checklist
Don't forget anything at home - ever!