Nothing below is intended as medical advice. Check with your physician for questions and counsel about an exercise program.
Saturday I completed my second half-marathon which makes me an expert on exactly nothing related to the subject, excepting, perhaps, my own experience leading up to and running it.
My purpose for writing is to encourage anyone contemplating running a half. This post is descriptive, not prescriptive. I can tell you what I did; you can decide if it will work for you.
I started training early. The only other half-marathon on my resume was from three years ago. My training was interrupted about 3 weeks before the race, and I injured a calf muscle the week of the race, so my finish was less than I had hoped for at the outset. It took thirteen minutes to run the last mile. The Flash was not worried. Neither was the lady pushing a stroller who passed me half a mile from the finish.
This year, I wanted to finish without a virtual collapse, so I started training 4 1/2 months early. Training was not perfect–there were terrible weeks–but starting early allowed some amount of compensation for bad weeks. Even a training run cut well short by illness did not destroy the entire regimen. Each of the first five miles of the race was faster than the previous, and I did not collapse at the end.
And, no strollers passed me in any of the 13.1 miles.
I invested in good shoes and socks. If needed, go Finish Line, Foot Locker or your local running store. Try on different brands until you find the one best for your feet. It is not only length that’s important, but width, toe box, arch support, and heel box. Neither one size nor one style fits all. Adidas are consistently best for my feet. The Adidas Duramo 6 are my current choice.
I began training wearing Champion low cut socks. After a run during which one of my toenails cut its neighbor (the piggy that had none gauged the piggy with roast beef), I ordered two pair of Injinji Run No Show Toesocks. Trust me on this one: toesocks are vastly superior to all-toes-together socks, and Injinjis are worth every penny. They are gloves for the feet. Not only do Injinjis help protect your toes from knifing each other, they effectively wick sweat from your feet. Sweaty, cramped toes do not make for a good run. (Before some well-meaning pedicurist asks, yes, I had cut my toenails prior to the run.)
I paid attention to my core muscles. My friend Jay Sanders hammered this home. Take heed would-be distance runner: a strong core makes for a better experience. A 13.1-mile run jars your body a bit more than three and a half hours watching a sporting event from the Lazy Boy. The core muscles work together to provide stabilization for your body. They transfer power from the legs to the upper body and vice versa. They also function to keep your insides inside as God designed.
The good news is you do not need a gym membership to strengthen the core. Sit-ups, leg lifts, and Supermans can all be done at home. The benefit to these few exercises, 15-minutes at a time a few days a week, cannot be overstated.
I stretched all the time. Everyone knows stretching before a race is important, but the older I get the more I need to stretch throughout the day. Keeping my muscles loose helped in training and on race day.
I heeded my body’s complaints. There were only a couple of times during training I hit a wall. Staying hydrated at all times, not only when running, was a key component of training this time. On those ridiculously humid days I did the best I could even if I missed the weekly goal by a mile or more.
I paid attention to my diet, especially the week of the race. My goal of eliminating sugar completely was not realized during my training, but sugar intake was diminished substantially. The week leading up to the race was given to carb-loading. I had pasta at least one meal every day. Spaghetti, Italian baked chicken with bow-ties, leftover bow-ties, my own creation with rotini and, the night before the race, chicken fettuccini alfredo.
The difference in how I felt post-race (between my two half-marathons) was substantial. This time out I wasn’t deathly fatigued the afternoon of the race, and felt great the next day.
If you found something to be particularly helpful in your training for a half or full marathon, share it in the comments.
Thanks for reading and sharing. Don’t forget to subscribe to email alerts at the top of the sidebar. Your gift to help underwrite the publishing of Kingdom in the Midst can be made via PayPal button in the sidebar.