Happy New Year’s Eve! Today has been such a great day. I got to hang out with Lisa (who is even more gorgeous in person, if that’s possible) and Kacy (whose blog I just discovered and love) and I got to eat at 105 Degrees. I’m in love with all three after today. But more on that later. Today, Lee is handling the posting.
Hello, A Foodie Stays Fit readers. My name is Lee and I blog at In My Tummy. Despite my blog name, I write about a lot more than just food. One of those things is running.
In the Spring of 2005, I could run 3 miles at most. By fall of that year, I’d completed my first race, a half-marathon. Go big or go home, right? I’m not saying that running 13.1 miles for your first race experience or even at all is the right thing for everyone, but I do strongly believe that everyone can run a half-marathon if he or she wants to.
At the time, I was active on a fitness-related message board and several members were big runners. It was the first time that I’d really ever considered doing a race of any distance. I looked at beginner training plans and realized that most of them started out with a long run of four miles. I told myself that once I was able to run four miles, I would be able to start a training plan and I could really do this.
I am not a natural athlete by any means. I’m slow and clumsy and my running form is all off. But what I do have is determination and I think that is key to training for a big race. There is a reason that Nike’s slogan is “Just Do It.” Training for a race is as much mental as it is physical if not more so.
Sometimes reading about other people’s training makes racing seem really intimidating. Will I be running every day? Do I need fancy gadgets? What on earth is a fartlek?
This March, I will be running my eighth half-marathon. Every time I cross the start line of another race, I’m surprised that I’m there. I am still slow and clumsy. I still have awful form. But I’m still there at that start line and you better believe that I’m going to cross that finish line.
I know that doing a half-marathon is a big 2011 resolution for some people, so here are…
The Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Ran My First Half Marathon
1. First things first, I believe that before you find a training plan, you should be able to run 3 miles pretty comfortably. I like to use a 12 week training plan and recommend Hal Higdon’s novice plan. For my first race, I just wanted to finish. Hal’s (he and I are apparently on a first name basis!) novice plan is great because there’s no fancy stuff. It focuses entirely on mileage with some cross training thrown in the mix. [Runners World also has a helpful training plan tool.]
2. Once you have picked out your plan, you don’t have to follow it religiously. That two mile run that you are supposed to do on Tuesday can be done on Thursday instead.
3. You are allowed to walk! I do a 9:1 running to walking ratio when I’m on the treadmill. Meaning, I run 9 minutes and then walk 1. Walking is not giving up. I find that this helps me get through long treadmill runs but I don’t need to do it outside.
4. Use your long runs to figure out what works for you, food and hydration-wise. Personally, I bring water if I’m running more than six miles and some sort of food if I’m running more than seven. I like to use GU but that’s just my personal preference.
5. Trust your training plan. Most do not have you run the full half-marathon amount before the race. The most that I’ve ever run in training is 10.5 miles. You will be able to run 13.1.
6. Sometimes runs just suck. It happens. You can run eight miles one day and it’ll feel easy as pie and then a two mile run a couple days later feels like torture. When I’m having a bad run, I tell myself that the next run has to be great since this one was so bad.
7. On the day of the race [and I would add, and the day before the race – Teri now butting out], don’t do anything differently than you’ve been doing. Don’t buy a new outfit or eat or drink something different.
8. If you listen to music while you run, which I do, make sure you charge your ipod!
9. If you have friends in the area, it helps SO much if they stand along different parts of the course. When you feel like you want to quit, it really helps to know that your friend is going to be there at the next mile.
10. Enjoy yourself! This is your first half marathon. No matter what your time is, you’re going to set a personal record. It’s going to be hard, even if you walk the entire thing, 13.1 miles is no joke. But crossing that finish line will be worth it.
Maybe it’s because it was my first race, but the half-marathon is my favorite distance. I hope that some of you will be able to experience it for the first time this year too.
Thanks Teri, for letting me guest post!
Thank you, Lee, for writing such a helpful post!
For those of you that have raced, what’s your #1 tip for races of any distance? (You can repeat a tip if you agree!) My advice to someone is for their first race, don’t worry about time – just enjoy it and aim to finish feeling strong. And never ever try anything new in the 48 hours before and the day of the race. I NEVER eat out the night before a race or wear new gear.
If you haven’t run a race, why not? Fear? No interest? Money?
HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!!! Have fun and please be safe! Watch out for other crazy drivers and don’t be one yourself. xoxo