5 TIPS FOR RUNNING AN
AWESOME HALF MARATHON
When I started running, I just ran. I never really thought about anything I needed to know, I just ran. I started increasing mileage as I felt comfortable. Then, I started increasing speed, also as I felt comfortable. I wasn’t consistent but I had fun. I had a running partner and we had a great time hanging out and chatting during our runs. I used to use running as my time to think. Think about everything. I also just love being outdoors and running assured I’d get plenty of outdoor time. This was all great, easy, and fun. But then, I found out about RACES! This is when the entire game changed for me.
I started off racing a couple 10Ks with one of my cousins. We had a blast! I couldn’t wait for the next race because I knew I could beat my time. Then I started paying attention to her and my other running partner’s stories of running half marathons. I was AMAZED that they could run that far! My furthest, at this point, had been 6 – 7 miles. I couldn’t image doing more than that. This is when my husband stepped in. He wanted to help me be able to run 13.1 miles so he actually became a runner just to help me. Anyhow, once we started racing half marathons, we went crazy! For 2 years straight, we raced one or two times a month with lots of practice runs in between. I am still a half marathon runner, he has become a marathoner – even running The Boston Marathon.
Throughout our racing experiences, I learned to tweak things here and there to make each new race better than the last. These are the things I’d like to share with you.
Since I am joining Friday Five Link-Up with Eat Pray Run DC, Mar on the Run, and You Signed up for What?!, I will share with you the 5 racing tips that have helped me the most. I hope you check out the link-up and add your own tips as well!
5 Tips for Running an Awesome Half Marathon
So, when I started in on this running venture, that’s all I did. Run. Run. and More Run. I ended up breaking my foot. Ahhhh. Not fun! Especially since I didn’t know it was broken. I was walking around in complete pain for weeks. After I completed a half marathon on it and could barely walk afterwards, I finally got an x-ray. Anyhow, while I was “enjoying” a little down time, I had to teach myself the joy of cross-training and ended up loving all the things I learned. Now, I cross-train every week except the week of a race. During race week, I only run and taper. I can feel the benefits of my cross-training during my training runs and races. My glutes and quads feel so strong and they really kick in when I am racing hills. My stronger core helps me run way better. I even depend on my arm movement and strength to help me get through to the finish. Also, cross-training helps me not get burned out on running. It’s fun to try different classes at the gym. Right now, I like Body Pump, Core-Cardio, and Cycle classes at 24 Hour Fitness. I also enjoy bike riding outdoors except I don’t like being around all the cars. I did also enjoy taking Krav Maga for a while too. All of these things help the entire body stay strong and perform better and really make a difference on race day.
FUELING & HYDRATING
When I started running half marathons, I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. What I really like about this book is that it helps you think of food more as fuel and it helps you focus on what you should be eating instead of what you should restrict. Here are the topics it covers:
*Improve Your Diet Quality
*Manage Your Appetite
*Balance Your Energy Stores
*Monitor Your Weight and Performance
*Time Your Nutrition
I still use the above chart to help me stay on track every once in a while.
Race day fuel has become very important to me as well. I used to think that I did not need the extra calories of anything that has carbs in it but now I don’t leave the start line without it. I used to drink only a sugar free electrolyte drink or plain water and I still choose low or no calorie drinks during shorter training runs. But, for racing, I feel much better running on Electrolyte/Carbohydrate mix drinks. My current favorite is either Fluid Performance Natural Sports Drink or Gatorade. My husband prefers Accelerade. I feel like I stay more hydrated during my race this way. I also eat either a SunRype 100% fruit bar or some sort of gel w/caffeine at approximately mile 6. Oh..another thing I like do is have a throat lozenge at the beginning of the race. That helps my chest not feel so dry.
I still struggle with this. I cannot stand being cold! Most races start fairly early, earlier than I am used to being awake. I don’t train in the cold. I barely go outside when it’s cold. But, there has NEVER been a race where I didn’t heat up before the first mile was done. I then feel like I am getting over-heated and I have to start removing layers. Since I’d rather not be worrying about what to do with my extra clothes for the remaining 12 miles of the race, I’ve been trying to dress lighter. Next time I think my race will be a cold start, I think I will wear a sweatshirt I don’t need. I believe at some of the races they take those pieces of clothing and donate them to a good cause. This next step also helps with staying warm at the start line.
WARM UP LAP/MILE JUST PRIOR TO THE RACE
I used to think that it’d be crazy to wear myself out by adding an extra mile to my race but the opposite is true. Getting that first, most difficult, lap/mile out of the way really helps overall average pace. Instead of wasting that time, precious on-the-clock time, it’s better to get that warm up in while you are still off the clock! Show up at the start line ready to pour it on…at a nice consistent pace of course!
CONSISTENT EFFORT THROUGHOUT
I also used to struggle with this A LOT! It’s so hard to not just tear away from the start line…immediately running around anyone in your way only to find out that you run out of stream by mile 10. How I really learned this lesson was by running with the race pacer. I felt like he was running so slow but he assured me we’d make the time I was shooting for. I felt great! We chatted often. I was able to talk to the other runners and really enjoy myself. I was actually surprised to finish the race 3 minutes ahead of my goal, and after feeling so strong throughout. Since then, I listen to my RunKeeper or keep an eye on my Garmin watch to make sure I am in check with a pace I can manage for the entire race. I do adjust if I am running a hilly course…taking into consideration that my pace will vary with the up and down but hopefully keeping my average pace in check with my goal race pace. It may be difficult to “keep calm and pace yourself” but I have found it works best for me.
Thank you for checking out my 5 Tips for Running an Awesome Half Marathon. I hope that you find some or all of these tips useful.