Thursday, April 2, 2015

It Feels Pretty Darn Good

In mid-March I ran in my FOURTH half marathon. That feels pretty damn good to be able to say. I know many of you are long-time readers, but I have a lot of people who find me via Pinterest and don't know me - so let me share a couple things about me. (1) I am not an expert; I'm just a woman who wanted to be healthy, in order to be a positive role model for my family.  (2) I had never run until I was 30-years-old and could only run for one minute intervals when I started. (3) I am a working Mama to three littles, and wanted to make a change and be healthy, but didn't want to sacrifice time with my family. I wanted to find balance.

If you haven't run and you're feeling like you want to get healthy and want to make some changes in your life - but have no idea where to start or how to do it, let me help you. I have been there. Believe me when I say that anyone can do a half marathon, if they want to.


Tip 1. Decide what you can run and stick with it. If you can run for 1 minute, do a 1 minute interval run with a 1 minute walk. If you can run for 30 seconds, start there. Just start somewhere. For me, I did my first half marathon at a 1:1 run:walk ratio. That was all I could commit to. I had never run in my entire life (I was an athlete and a dancer, but I had never run farther than the length of a volleyball court...or the once a year mile I did in middle and high school). I didn't start out wanting to be a runner, either. I just knew I wanted to get healthy for my family. So, download a timer app for your phone (or invest in a watch, if you're thinking you're going to stick with this running thing) and get started. HERE is the timer I started with and HERE is the Garmin watch I now have.

Tip 2. Make a plan for fueling and hydrating. I really believe that it's so much easier to start good habits than it is to correct bad ones. I can't tell you how many people I see who don't run with water...or don't fuel while they run...or don't know about electrolytes and salt levels. I don't want to knock anybody or anyone, because we're all trying our best. But I believe that when you know better, you do better. And experts agree: your recovery will be better if you take care of your body before, during, and after you run. Can you go out there and not fuel on a 13 mile run? Sure. But, like a well oiled machine, is your body going to be at its optimal performance? No. I can tell you the difference between runs I'm hydrated and ones I'm not. The recovery is 100% easier when you take care of yourself. Below I've listed my plan and the products I use, but you will need to experiment and see what works for you. You may find sports beans make your stomach upset and that gummy bears or pieces of pbj sandwiches work better. There are lots and lots of options. Just do a bit of research if you find something you don't like.

(1) I cannot do electrolyte drinks. I wish I could, but they make my stomach hurt. So instead, I use salt stick caps. I follow the directions on the container. 
(2) I eat two pieces of toast with a tiny bit of peanut butter for anything over than 10 miles and half marathons. I eat 1 piece of toast plain for anything under 7 miles and two pieces of plain toast for anything between 7 and 10 miles. 
(3) My hydration plan is to drink 4 ounces, every 15 minutes. Since I run for over 2.5 hours in a half marathon, that means I need to consume about 40 ounces of water WHILE I'm running. I adjust this if it's hot out.  
(4) I fuel with sport beans. I eat a handful of beans every 2 or so miles on LONG runs, which means I usually eat a couple packages of them during a half marathon. I usually don't fuel for runs that are less than 7 miles, because my breakfast carries me through. But then, I always eat something afterwards, as soon as possible. 

Tip 3. Try out your hydration and fueling plan early on. Don't try sport beans on your very first 12 mile run, because it may make you sick and it'll be too late to fix it. Try it on a 3 mile run (even though you don't need it)...or better yet, first try it on a day when you're home, to see how it makes you feel. 

Tip 4. Buy a few running supplies. I know when I first started running, I didn't buy actual running stuff. I just went out there and walked and ran. If you want to do a half, there are some things you really should have. However, if you want to go out and do shorter distances, you should be fine without some of these.

1. You need something to carry water in. For my first three half marathons I used a hydration belt. Lots of people use those handheld bottles, that have a strap for your hand. Use what feels comfortable for you! Since I knew I'd be training for a full marathon later in 2015, I decided to ask for a hydration vest (that holds more water) for Christmas. So I've been using this ever since. I love my Nathan Intensity 2L Hydration Vest. 
2. I really suggest getting body glide. You can use it on anything that rubs (even under your socks!)
3a. or 3b. If you're going to run with intervals, you need something to help you with those. When I first started running, I used an arm band to hold my iphone and used a timer app. And then, after I knew I was going to be running for a while, I invested in a Garmin watch. I am getting ready to upgrade to a better Garmin watch, now that I know I'm going to be doing a full marathon, but the Garmin 10 has served me VERY, VERY well for the last year. 
4. SHOES, SHOES, SHOES!!! Invest in good shoes. I highly suggest going to a shoe store that will fit you and watch your stride, etc. So many injuries can be fixed with a good pair of shoes; conversely, so many injuries originate from a bad pair of shoes. You need to replace your shoes every 300 or so miles. I switched this year to the Brooks Ravenna 5's after my third half marathon and I love them! I'll probably stick with Ravennas for my full, too. 

Want more advice? 
HERE was some advice from my first half marathon!
HERE was my advice from my second half marathon!


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