On May 2, 2010, I will do something I’ve never done: Run 13.1 miles in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon!
I’ve been an athlete all my life. Nothing hardcore, just have always participated in sports. From field hockey to gymnastics to softball and lacrosse, I’ve played nearly every sport. Lacrosse was the sport I kept up with the most – playing from sixth grade up until I graduated from college.
I’ve been running since about sixth grade when I began the running sports of field hockey and lacrosse. From gym class where they made you run a mile for the President’s Challenge (I have Bill Clinton’s autograph thank you very much) to required runs for sports, it’s been part of my life. In high school I started running outside of sports for exercise and just stuck with it. Last May, after some friends of mine ran the 2009 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I decided it sounded fun and in July 2009 registered to run the 2010 Pittsburgh Half. Now that it’s April 5, I am getting more nervous but I’m very excited to do something I’ve never done. Sure, I’ve ran a lot in life, but NEVER this far. I’m not fast by any means, but I’ve got the endurance to keep going.
So with that, the top five ways I’ve been training for the half marathon:
I first had shin splints in high school during one of the tennis seasons. I played tennis all four years and all that fast stop-and-go movement was recipe for shin splints. They went away but crept up again late last fall. Thanks to advice from Twitter friends @danahanzlik, @onlinerants and @MichaelSally, my shin splints have gotten MUCH better and are almost completely gone. The best thing I’ve done is ice my shins, stretch, and built more muscle in the legs. Then more ice. I go to bed icing my legs. Ice is my best friend. Ice, ice…baby.
Looking hot and listening to hot jamz
OK actually I probably look like a sweaty hog when I run (see above Homer photo) but I don’t care! Proper gear is more important than looking good. I invested in a great pair of ASICS that are great kicks and also helpful in combating injury like shin splints. I also love lululemon gear. On my ipod are songs that are fun and get me pumped, but also calming songs. Depending on my mood and energy level, a good song can make all the difference. I can listen to Nick Drake sometimes, but usually it’s more upbeat like Shots by LMFAO. Good jam. For a list of what I’m listening to, visit one of my last recent blog posts.
The great thing about social media is you can choose to tell your network everything or nothing. I try to not get too personal, but I have been letting everyone know I am running a half marathon. Same goes for my real life network of friends and family. This is great for encouragement and it’s great to share you just ran that 8 miles you never ran before. Plus if you don’t run, people will know. I’m even doing Tweet My Time during the marathon so family and friends can follow along with me during the race, even if they aren’t there.
Eating spinach like nobody’s business
Food is an important part of training. I’ve been trying to eat enough during the day (which is NEVER a problem) so I have the energy to run the 5 miles after work I normally run. I am a sucker for foodie blogs, and one trend in the food blog world is what they call Green Monsters (http://greenmonstermovement.com/). These babies are amazing. You put like 3 cups of spinach into a smoothie but the good news is you can’t taste the spinach and they are tasty. Plus you amp it up with Amazing Grass, which has so many health benefits and gives you energy. My recipe is the old standard:
One cup soy or almond milk
1 tablespoon flax oil
1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood
1 frozen banana
A sh*tload of spinach
Blend again, VERY well
Sticking to the plan
The most important thing I’ve done since I officially began training on March 1 is sticking to a plan of running and cross training. Skipping days just won’t work in making my body ready to run, so even if I am exhausted after work, I change into my running gear and get going. My training plan can be found here, compliments of Runner’s World. I only run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays so Mondays and Wednesdays are for my own version of cross training: YOGA. Fridays are for rest and I try to do some resistance exercises after my Tuesday and Thursday runs. Best thing you can do for yourself is do yoga if you’re a runner…or anyone for that matter. It really stretches and elongates your muscles and flushes toxins from the body. It also makes you super strong. I’ve missed a couple of Monday classes but made up for it by doing my shorter weekend run on Sunday and then taking class Sunday as well. Not sure how bad working out twice a day is for you if you’re training for a marathon, but my body is OK with it, and that’s what’s the most import part of training – listening to your body, stopping when you need to, and most importantly: having fun.
Follow me on Twitter for updates from the race that day. MAY 2 OR BUST!