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10 things I’ve learned training for my first half marathon.

Posted Jul 10 2012 6:35am

It’s 4:45 in the morning, and I’ve been up for an hour already…all because I thought I heard my soon-to-be three-year-old cry. Either I have major baby fever, or I think I can officially call myself the world’s lightest sleeper, no? While I lay there trying terribly to fall back to sleep knowing I have a 10-mile run ahead of me this morning, all I could think about was one thing:

I’m about to become a half-marathoner.

OHMYGOD!!! This is going to happen!!!! I’ve done it!!! I’m comfortable with it being thisclosetoraceday. I’m excited. I’m thrilled…and 100% ready. I’ve learned so much about myself during this training that it’s been swarming around in my head for an hour. What I’ve learned isn’t stuff you can just read in a book. It’s the stuff that only experience can teach you.

    If you can see it, you can be it. This is my #1 piece of advice hands down. Every single time I have been out running recently, I’ve gotten lost in the idea that I’m becoming something I never thought I could. I picture the starting line. I can almost sense the exciting, overwhelming energy of the race. I can see the finish line and feel the accomplishment. I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve teared up on an almost daily basis in pure pride for almost 12 weeks now. Picture yourself as a half marathoner, and by doing this, you’ll become your biggest cheerleader. Visualize your success.  see, be it, believe it, achieve it Source.
  1. Pick a race and register for it. Don’t put it off. Chase it now. Find a race that you want to run, and register. Don’t hesitate, don’t wait for “savings”, and don’t think “I’ll register when I know I’m doing okay in training.” If you’re like me, the longer you put it off, the more you fear it. I set a goal of two different half marathons last year. I didn’t make it to either of them. I never registered either. This time, I set my sights on a race and never looked back . Of course, I waited a few weeks for “savings”, and the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the day I registered is the fact that I sat there, shivering, almost in tears, asking my husband if he thought I could do this. Eff it. Do it. Register. 
  2. Be smart about giving yourself enough time to train. I gave myself 14 weeks. That was two weeks of “letting it simmer” runs and 12 weeks of training. I’m closing in on taper week now, and I’m ready. Unless you’re a seasoned runner, have done this “a million times”, and have been running consistently for a long time, give yourself the 12 weeks. At least. Give yourself time to evaluate and plan…and time for it to sink in…and pump yourself up.
  3. Put your goals out there for the world to see. Chances are, you’ll find more support than you ever imagined. If I had a quarter for every single time I have felt loved, supported, lifted up, and full of joy during this training, I’d be taking you all on a celebratory vacation of your choice. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like being surrounded by people who support you and want you to succeed. If you have people in your life that doubt you, say goodbye. If they doubt your ability or just the idea of having this type of goal, peace out. Don’t keep them around for the sake of drama. Don’t keep them around for the sake of proving them wrong. Chances are, if they’ve got the nerve enough to openly doubt you, they’ve got the nerve to stalk your progress. They’ll find out they’re wrong. So get rid of the toxic people in your life and stop trying to prove someone wrong. This isn’t about them, it’s about you – move on. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and will help you achieve your goal. It’s made a world of difference for my training.
  4. It’s okay to not follow a plan perfectly- every body is different. Guess what? I didn’t follow a plan “to a T”. I didn’t just nonchalantly jot down planned mileage just for the sake of getting the miles in. Junk miles straight up suck. Don’t force yourself into a huge jump in distance just ’cause. Chances are you’ll end up exhausting your body. Don’t move too slowly either. My “plan” included a 5K and 10K race…and a three mile jump in distance from taper week to race day. So I made some changes. There was the day I felt strong enough to add a mile to my long run -  so I did . There was the time I felt like a 5K trail race (a first for me) could have resulted in an injury for me, so I didn’t do it and instead tacked on another mile to my long run. I listened to my body.
  5. Pick one goal. Not five. Don’t force yourself into a million goals. Don’t try to set records for fastest half marathon ever. If this is your first half marathon, then get into it just for the sake of finishing! After your first, you can set shoot for personal records. If you make racing all about beating something or someone, where’s the enjoyment in that? I’ve completely and utterly enjoyed every aspect of this training, because I refused to tarnish the experience with the pressure of being the “best” at something. Sometimes, if you just be, you’ll find yourself beating records without even thinking about it.
  6. Log your training – don’t just cross off a workout. If you log your training, it’s pretty awesome seeing how much you’ve grown as a runner – whether it’s pace, distance, or ease. Ran all the hills this time. Ran for 4 miles straight. Ran my fastest mile. Having those tiny, yet ginormous, milestones really helps boost your confidence. Think of it as unintentionally crossing off mini-goals.
  7. Hydrate. Nourish. Rest. Go naked. Drink your water. Eat wholesome foods. Give yourself ample rest. Rocket science. ;) Go naked? Leave your Garmin home…with your iPod/iPhone. Give yourself a chance to be in your run once in a while. Don’t make it about the mileage or pace. Make it about listening to your breath and your feet meeting the pavement. Make the connection, because as cheesy as it sounds, oh there’s a connection. Quiet your mind. It’s freeing. I’ve only run 3 training runs with my iPod – the rest of them were quiet and just me, and who knows…if you let go of the iPod for a little while, you might find that someone will find it an open invitation to make your daylistening to your stride, stride, running stride Source.
  8. Invest in two bags of frozen Brussels sprouts and some YogaToes.Or your own tools for recovery. Hehe.
  9. Be open to advice from those who have been there.With the help of my friend Isabel, I was able to figure out that my plan wasn’t exactly…comforting. Having to tack on 3.1 miles in one week, on race day, didn’t sit right with my friend. It worried her…so she told me. She explained that she was worried I wouldn’t get the miles I needed to get to race day, and I took the advice and ran with it. She’s got the medals to show for her numerous races…so why wouldn’t I? Be open to advice from those who know. There’s a difference between hindering and helping, and you need to know the difference. That open-mindedness could mean the difference between being comfortable or being a basket case on race day. I’m ready.

I know this is sort of a long post and I still have a week and a half to go, but at 3:45 in the morning, this is what was on my mind. I couldn’t pass up the chance to share…I’m a raging ball of INSPIRED.


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