A few months ago a dear friend managed to convince our whole friend group to travel across the country together to run a half-marathon. I’ve run a few before (6-ish… *’ish‘ because I stopped at mile 4 once, but I’ll spare you the details until later) but it’s been a few years, one new baby and a move to a new city since my last race. I’m a month in to half marathon training and I’m proud to admit that I’ve already trained harder than ever before in terms of miles run. Our bodies (even after bearing two children) are strong, resilient and fierce as hell! Of course, uncontrollable factors can and probably will make training difficult (sleep-deprivation, stress, obligatory seasonal colds) but there are things you can control to make your next half, or first half, one for the books. Here’s a few things you need to set yourself up for success…
1. Good shoes. I’m not going to recommend a specific shoe despite being hooked on Nike Frees because they may not be good for you. Do your ankles pronate? You might want supportive shoes. Do your hips hurt after logging several miles? You might want different supportive shoes. See where I am going here? Head to a running store with treadmills and fit specialists to look at your gait and recommend a shoe that is best for you.
2. A great over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder. You’re going to want a wickedly supportive run bra even if (like me) you are not well-endowed. I love Sweaty Betty’s Ultra Run Bra for it’s padded shoulder straps. By mile 5 or 6 you’ll be figuratively patting yourself on the back for getting yourself a bra with padded shoulder straps. The bra also boasts compression panels which helps keep the muscles in your chest from reverberating (jiggling) because who wants to their tatas wiggling about?
3. A Nutrition Plan. Remember earlier when I said I stopped at mile 4 once? Well, I had eaten a turkey-bacon and egg sandwich pre-race and it was ugly. I felt heavy and tired. It was way too much sodium for my body. I probably would have kept going had my knee not also hurt, but we’ll come back to that later. Good nutrition — whatever that means to you is key. For me, that’s a small protein bar or a green smoothie and some energy chews. Kaare crushes aforementioned turkey-bacon and egg sandwiches and feels great. You’ll want to eat something before you run or do any type of exercise since your muscles can store only about six to seven hours’ worth of glycogen for energy, so each morning you wake up depleted.
4. A strength training regimen. A study published in ’08 assigned well-trained runners to either a control group or an intervention group — both groups performed a series of half-squats three times a week for eight weeks. Both groups continued their regular running regimen. While V02 max and body weight did not change, the strength training group’s time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed improved by 21.3 percent. Pretty impressive, no? Aim for a strength training session once a week to become a stronger, more efficient runner and decrease your chance of injury. Adding strength has helped me ensure I never stop before the finish line again.
5. Stretching, foam rolling and yoga. Okay, that’s three things, but they all fall in to the same category: recovery and repair. Yoga will help strengthen your posture and loosen those tight runner’s hips. Stretching and yoga will lengthen muscles and help them recover faster by loosening lactic acid. Foam rolling loosens tissue in ways that stretching alone can’t and although it can be painful while you’re on it, it provides pain relief and increased flexibility that you’ll be thankful for in the long run (pun intended). This one is my favorite and much to Kaare’s dismay, I keep it somewhere visible in my living room so I remember to use it.
Thank you for reading and good luck with your training! xx, BA