Training for my half-marathon has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had. I finished my 7th week of training today--successfully completing a 9-mile run yesterday morning. If you remember from my first post, the longest I had ever run was 6 miles.
As the weeks pass, I notice positive changes to my mood, physical appearance, strength and endurance. I can comfortably run 5-miles, something I thought impossible 7 weeks ago.
I tweaked Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training: Novice plan to fit my schedule, and it has helped me keep up with my runs and make significant progress. A typical week looks like the following:
Monday: 60 minute cross training (kickboxing class)
Tuesday: Short run (4-5 miles)
Wednesday: 60 minute cross training (kickboxing class)
Thursday: Either a shorter run in the morning or a 60 minute strength training class
Saturday: long run (6-11 miles)
If you're considering training for your own half marathon, here are some tips:
1. Plan ahead. When life gets busy, it's difficult to find time for longer runs. Also, it's difficult to get up on a Saturday morning to do a 9-mile run after going out on Friday. For example, when I went to Las Vegas, I had to rearrange my entire schedule to fit around my trip.
2. Invest in a watch that will track your pace and distance. I've become addicted to my Garmin Forerunner 305. Yes, it's expensive; however, it's become a pivotal part in my training process. I can track my distance, path, heart rate, calories burned, pace and more.
3. Make sure you're doing enough cross training. I went through a 2-week period when I didn't go to any strength training classes. Strength is key to a successful race, especially when you start to get tired. When your running form starts to fail, stronger muscles will help propel you to the end.
4. Watch your diet. Especially being a vegetarian, I have to make sure I'm getting the nutrients I need. Green vegetables are key to keeping my energy levels up. I can physically feel when I haven't had enough--I'm lethargic and struggle to run only a few miles. I've also started eating more salmon, almonds, avocados, spinach, lentils, dark chocolate (yes! chocolate actually helps prevent soreness after runs--35% cocoa or higher), peanut butter and bananas.
5. Timing is key! Almost always, I start my runs before 7:30am. I don't handle the heat well, and it's also helping me prepare for my 7:30am race start time.
6. Make an awesome running mix. I try to plan my more 'upbeat' songs for the end of my runs to give me a little more motivation and kick.
7. Stay hydrated. I'm refuse to give-up coffee or soda (although my dentist would not be happy to hear that.) Both of these dehydrate the body so I make sure to carry my water bottle around everywhere. I try to fill it up at least twice a day because it is very difficult to run when I'm dehydrated. Instead of Gatoraid, try coconut water. It's an all-natural, fat-free, mega-electrolyte water.
8. Wear proper attire. The day I decided to wear my H&M cotton tank instead of my microfiber shirts was a painful mistake. The seams of the tank chaffed against my arm to the point where it scabbed (I know, it's gross.)
9. Don't push yourself too hard. Make sure you're taking enough rest days. If you're supposed to run 5 miles and your body just isn't feeling it, swap that day out for an easier one. You always want to listen to your body to prevent injuries.
10. Have fun! Enjoy the process and feel proud of yourself for all you've accomplished. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon is October 2, 2011. I have about 5 weeks left to train. Whoot whoot!
If anyone has tips to add, please contribute :)