Photo Credit @ Lauren Denise Photography
If I pass out, please pause my Garmin.
Today, my girlfriends and I are exactly one month away from running our first half marathon, and together nonetheless. The process has been painful, physically pushing my body to a point it has never been before. The process has brought my friends and I even closer, giving us a shared goal to work toward and bond over. The process has been a mental test, and I have come to the realization that half the battle in distance running is forcing your mind (over your body) to keep going. With that in mind, there are three main pieces of information I have taken away from training thus far.
Tough runs don’t last; tough runners do.
- Having the appropriate gear makes a difference. Training. Running. They can both be uncomfortable. Having the appropriate gear to make such experiences less uncomfortable is more than helpful. My favorite piece of gear for training in the heat is a cooling towel that my mom surprised me with. Being lightweight and unobtrusive, I could wear it throughout my run when it was hot and it would successfully help keep me from overheating (similar item here, here, and here). My favorite items for training in the cold are some Polartec leggings from Athleta. I don’t like wearing lots of bulky layers when running, they are heavy and obtrusive. The Polartec leggings are warm enough I don’t have to wear a heavy pair of sweatpants over top my leggings until my legs warm up enough (similar pairs here and here). My favorite piece of gear for running overall are Trekz headphones by AfterShokz (here and here). I have a smaller head, so I bought the “mini” size, however, there are size adapters one can put on the regular size ones for a tighter fit if need be. One of my girlfriends that is running the race with me suggested them to us all. At first, I was skeptical if I would like the headphones enough to justify spending the money on them, but I love them. I use them at the gym as well! I love that they aren’t inner ear headphones so I can hear any oncoming traffic and/or noises, and they are safer for my ears. They are also wireless!! I love not having to mess with the annoyance of headphone cords, which was something I would have previously been messing with throughout a run.
- Everyone’s body responses to training differently. Weight gain during long-distance running is common. Personally, I’ve gained 12 + pounds during this training process. If this is something that will bother you, stop looking at the scale temporarily. Swelling and leg bruising are common. A foam roller and solid stretching have helped me. Constipation is common, and Miralax is your friend (TMI I know, but keeping it real over here).
- Make training adjustments when necessary. I have been following Emily Jackson’s Running Guide for my half marathon training. This is a 10-week training program for a half marathon. I took that 10-week guide and doubled it to stretch out over 20 weeks. Initially, I followed this guide to the letter. However, as the weeks have progressed, I have made necessary adjustments for my body’s response to this training process. In short, everyone’s body is different. Body’s respond differently to physical activity. And, my body has needed more recovery time to prevent small injuries from turning into large injuries. This is my first marathon of any kind, and I realize no matter what training program used, it will be and has been a learning process to find out what works for me and my body.
Run the first two-thirds of the race with your head and the last third with your heart.
Routine | About a month ago I hurt my knee on one of my longer runs (approximately 9 miles or so). The following week, I did not run. I did some strength training, and replaced my ‘run days’ with ‘walk days.’ I went to the chiropractor and got everything put back in place because my knee was not the only issue at this point. The swelling and pressure-pain in my knee went away by the end of the week so I proceeded forward with training after a week’s break. However, I did switch up the consistent routine I had been doing to give my body more of a break. Since then my routine has been a medium length run on Tuesday (weather permitting), a HIT workout and strength training on Wednesday, a short run and strength training on Thursday, and a long run on Saturday or Sunday. The extra breaks (and extra trips to the chiropractor) have been helping, my body hasn’t been as mad at me in the mornings lately 😉
Pros | I have more energy! Getting in a healthy habit of regular exercise has helped me have more energy throughout the day to be productive. Furthermore, it has been great for my mental health. A good workout helps clear my head and lower my stress.
Cons | The weight gain has not been fun. But that is not as bothersome as the aches and pains my body has most days. And, though I like that the weather isn’t so hot anymore, it has been very rainy and windy lately (which is equally as unpleasant in a different way). The wind was so bad today it nearly knocked me off the sidewalk a few times, and it hurt my ears. Definitely will need to start wearing some form of ear protection.
Takeaway | My biggest takeaway so far is, distance running is a mental game. For me, it’s a lot easier to push my body to run 10 + miles than it is to force my mind to do it. It’s easy to get your mind stuck on the discomfort you experience during the run instead of focusing on your goal of running. And, when the weather is unpleasant and your training conditions are even worse, the discomfort goes up. Because of this, I am going to try and make it a goal to run in bad weather at least once a week up until the race in an effort to condition and strengthen my mental toughness too.
If anyone knows of any half marathons coming up in the next six months or so, please let me know! I am interested in continuing this process!