One of my favorite blogger friends, Bridie @ Healthy Living has just completed her first half marathon and wrote a post on her experience. She has been an inspiration to me because she has juggled healthy living and training while raising her family.
**I hope that her words might help you find motivation to achieve a goal in your life...whether it's a 5K, half marathon or 26.2, or possibly just being active again-getting to the gym and reaching and exceeding your goals...this is worth a read! I especially love #16, 17, and 18!!
For those of you just starting out on your journey to a half-marathon, here are some lessons I learned along the way.
1. Set your goal and then tell people. Tell everyone. Post it on Facebook. Offer up that you are running a half-marathon to anyone that will listen. Now you will have to be accountable.
2. Sign up for a race. If I hadn't signed up for this and paid the fee, when I started having leg issues I likely would have just not signed up and post-poned the event for when I was feeling better. It's harder to back out when you have paid for the event AND told everyone you will be there.
3. Find a running buddy for the race - one more experienced and maybe slightly better than you to run with. I don't suggest finding someone that runs a full minute or even 30 sec miles faster than your intended pace. But find someone that runs at a pace that would be your best case scenario goal. I was doing awesome with my running partner before the knee pain hit in the race. If my knee had held up, that pace would have likely become challenging towards the end, but it would be much easier keeping that pace with her than on my own.
4. Follow a beginner's training plan. I bought the beginner's plan from Runners World. It was just distance, no time or speed workouts. You can't build mileage and speed at the same time without getting injured (see next tip). If you've never run 13.1 miles, or 8 miles as the case would be when I started the program, you just need to focus on building that base.
5. Easy runs should be easy. I thought that since my fast pace was still relatively slow compared to more experienced runners, that qualified as easy. Every run I was trying to out do my last run at that distance. Not ever taking it easy and letting my body recover was a likely cause of current injury.
6. Stretch after every run, even your 3 mile easy runs. Another contributor to current injury.
7. If you have a time goal, practice running and drinking. Set up a table at the end of your driveway. It's harder than it looks!
8. Read running blogs for inspiration.
9. Take time off if you get injured. Seek help from a doctor, massage therapist, whatever you need. Better to nip it in the bud than to let it go on. If you don't know who to see, ask your running friends, and if they don't know, find a clinic that specializes in sports medicine, specifically running injuries if possible.
10. The day before the race, get all your stuff prepared early. I was in the shower the night before and realized that while I had packed my stuff, set aside my clothes for the morning, I had left the timing device and bib on my counter! Had I not packed early, I may not have been thinking about that stuff in the back of my mind - what a disaster if I had left without!
11. When buying arm warmers......note that they do come in sizes! I was shopping with kids, grabbed a pair without looking and got home to find I bought xs. While I don't have big arms, this was a little tight. Not having time to go back, I stretched them out around plastic bowls and let them sit overnight to stretch out.
12. Having a veteran runner help you navigate the race is amazing. I didn't know where to drop my bag, where to line up, she helped with everything!
13. If you are running in chilly weather, bring super warm clothes for after the race. Even though it was in the 50's and I felt fine running in capri tights and a tank, I was freezing when the race was over, even with a long sleeved shirt and sweatshirt. My sweet friend said this morning it's because I have no body fat (Ha! So nice, but so not true) - I think it's just a combination of being dehydrated, sweating, chilly weather, your body being exhausted. Bring one more layer than you think you'll need.
14. If you know friends and family will be along the course, try to find out where they may be. It will keep you inspired. Knowing my time would be sent by text to my hubby and mom also motivated me to keep the speed up before that first check point.
15. Don't try anything new in the days before the race. I switched my pain reliever from generic ibuprofen to Aleve, since that was always effective when I was dancing. I don't know if it was simply nerves, or the Aleve, but my stomach was unsettled the day before and morning of the race.
16. Soak up the encouragement - from bloggy friends, to FB friends, to real life friends - I was overwhelmed by the amount of people cheering me on, both on the sidelines and afar. Take advantage of the relationships and community that you have built. That feeling of having these people rooting for me was every bit as rewarding as finishing the race itself.
17. Soak in the experience. I did this at first, and then got lost in the pain once it kicked in. I really wish I would have paid attention to my surroundings more.
18. Soak up your accomplishment. I tend to downplay the things that I do - shoot if I can run a half-marathon, it can't be that hard, right? Add in the fact that I was injured and didn't have a great time....it's easy to underscore the achievement. When it's all said and done, look back through your training log. Remember when you couldn't run 3 miles? Remember when you couldn't run an 8:42 pace for 2 miles? Remember your 10 mile run at a 10:18 pace, and you just ran 13.28 miles at a 9:49 pace, while injured?
If you are gearing up for your first race - GOOD LUCK! I have totally been infected with the running bug now. All I want to do is get out there and race again! As soon as my knee is recovered.....and this time I'll train much slower and smarter.
Now head on over and tell Bridie congratulations and that Move It Momma sent ya...