Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Training Thus Far

Photo by OHventures

It's just a little over a month until the big day: The Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus on May 5! As you may know, I signed up to run the half marathon as part of the American Cancer Society DetermiNation Team back in January. I did it in order to scratch off my Buckeye Bucket List, but I have come to find it is much more than just that!

First of all, during my training, I have discovered that this will hands down be the most difficult physical challenge of my life! I feel like you have to be crazier to sign up for a half marathon than you have to be to jump out of an airplane skydiving! It really takes a great deal of commitment, focus, strength, and fittingly, determination!

As a follow-up to my Running Tips for Beginner Runners, I have compiled the following list of Running Tips for Intermediate Runners who may be training as I am for an endurance race.

1. Get the Right Gear: I started training in the frigid winter months of January and February. Most of my running took place indoors on the treadmill, but I found myself losing interest just running in place in the gym! For me, it is much more enjoyable to run outdoors with the scenery changing. So, step one was to purchase some outdoor running attire like Under Armour running tights (pictured above). These clothes are also good in warmer weather for when you are sweating, because the material is non-restricting and allows your body to breathe. Brands other than Under Armour also work just as well, and are probably much cheaper. With the new running clothing, coupled with my perfectly fitted shoes from Fleet Feet I wrote about before, I was ready to hit the pavement!

2. Injury-Proof Yourself: Running such long distances, longer than I have ever before, has been taking a great toll on my body. While stretching is of utmost importance, it seems like no amount of yoga or ballistic stretching can fully prepare my legs for the beating they are about to take on my long haul through town. Personally, I have been experiencing pain on the side of my right knee after a day of training. The pain was pretty intense, so I had to figure out what I was doing wrong. First, I took the liberty of purchasing a knee brace to help keep my legs in line and less prone to injury. Next, I researched proper techniques and learned that the key to drastically lowering the stress running puts on your body is to take more steps, because taking short, quick steps rather than long slow ones means your feet are spending less time in contact with the ground, and create smaller impacts (Source: The Art of Manliness).

3. Stagger Your Workouts: One of the first things I was told when talking with the Marathoners In Training (MIT) coaches for my half marathon team was that you should create a running calendar with your distance goals. Ideally, you should have between 12-16 weeks of training before a half marathon and there should be 2-4 (ideally 3) days a week. One day of the week should be dedicated for your "distance run" while the others are reserved for "shorter" runs. Each week you should be sure to add a mile here and there so that you eventually build up to the 13.1 miles at the actual half marathon event! This is easier said than done, and I will be the first to admit that I have not adhered to my running schedule as best as I should. However, this does not mean I am not extremely dedicated to my race. I am sure to try my hardest and stick to my calendar as best as possible. Runner's World offers great examples of running calendars.

4. Take Your Vitamins!: I am a huge vitamin nut! Catch me in Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, or Vitamin World and I am bound to drop at least $50! So of course I get excited to know that vitamins, minerals and supplements can benefit me in my running! One of the most helpful vitamins for running is fish oil, as it helps with joints and heart health at the same time! Gingseng is also helpful, as it is a natural energy supplement. Eating a protein bar an hour or so before your run (or a small meal high in protein) is key for strength and muscle building as well. During a very long endurance run like a half marathon, it is also important to maintain electrolytes, which can be achieved through a sports drink, or running gels, of which I have been recently introduced to. Pop the gels approximately every half an hour during your race and you'll be properly fueled!

5. Get Positive Reinforcement!: Having support from friends and loved ones during your race is the best way to prepare yourself mentally and keep you fighting while training and when running the actual race! It shows that they have faith in you and believe you can do it! It's also a great feeling to join a team like the American Cancer Society DetermiNation Team to raise money so that you are running for a cause. This is so much better than running just for fun! Knowing that you are helping a cause is the best motivation out there. As of right this moment (as I write this), I have raised over $750 to fight cancer, and I am nearing my goal of $1,000! This puts great meaning to my race, and I am grateful to know that I can be helping others while running! After all, not everyone can run!

Got running tips? Message me, or leave a comment!

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