I am so excited to share with you one of my passions: Running Races (notice I didn’t say just running). Races are the one thing that makes me LOVE running. My husband and I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon last week and we loved every minute of it (well… maybe not miles 23 to 26). But we loved everything else!
I didn’t start running races until I got married. My sweet husband convinced me that I would love it so I gave it a try. I ran a 5k and I really thought I was going to die. After that, I was determined to run more. I signed up for another 5k and I beat my time by 10 minutes. I was then officially hooked.
As time went on I decided to train for a half marathon. It was hard at first but it really became easier with time. My first half was very slow, but I finished! I was so happy!
I have now run 2 marathons about 15 1/2 marathons, many 10ks, 5ks, and I even finished a triathlon which I placed 2nd in.
About 2 years ago I got a group of 20 girls and together we ran a 1/2 marathon. Some of these girls had never run more than a mile when we started. But they all did it! If they can do it… so can you!
I am not a professional by any means. These are my own tips that I use when training! I hope they help!
1. Find a Plan
If you have never run, just had a baby, or haven’t run for a long time, I highly suggest trying the program: Couch to 5k. It helped many of the girls who hadn’t run for a long time!
If you are already running, there are so many good plans out there! Now you just need to find one that is good for you. Some of my favorite schedules are from Hal Higdons programs. He has them for beginners all the way to advanced runners.
(He has many more programs for more advanced – check out his side bar for all his options)
2. Give yourself plenty of time to train
This is a very important one! One I know all to well from experience. After my last baby I started training for a marathon way to fast. I injured my knee and pulled all kinds of muscles. I couldn’t run for almost 6 months. So my advice, start slow and give yourself plenty of time. Before you start any kind of training, you should be able to run 3 miles easily. (if you are not there, again I highly suggest the Couch to 5k program)
3. Get a Good Pair of Shoes
I will admit…. I was one of those who would buy kids tennis shoes because I could fit into them and because they were much cheaper. My husband really laughed when he saw what I was wearing. He bought me my first good pair of running shoes and I have never gone back! They really make running shoes for the purpose of running. Some of my favorites are: Asics Kayanos, Brooks Adrenaline, Mizunu Wave Prophecy.
My advice is to go to a running store and take a running/shoe test. They can tell you what shoes will fit you best. I like to look around for the best price (being on a budget and all) Amazon many times has crazy deals on running shoes!
4. Find a Partner (whether it be a real person or an Ipod)
I love running with people. That is one reason I love running so much. It gets me out of bed if I know someone is waiting for me.
This last year, my husband’s schedule was so crazy, I couldn’t run with anyone consistently. It was my first time training for a race all by myself. It was hard at first but after awhile I began loving the alone time. I also loved listening to my music. My husband would run the long runs with my thankfully.
My other favorite running partner was my running watch. It showed me how many miles I had gone, my pace, and some even show your heart rate. My favorite running watch is a Garmin – but be sure to check other watches out so you can find one that fits you.
5. Your long runs can be slow… it is okay!
When I trained for my first marathon, I was so worried that my long runs were way to slow. There was no way I could run faster and longer in one race. Wrong. It is okay that your long runs are slow, in fact, you want them slower than you are going to run in your real race. If you pushed them hard and fast there is a good chance you will get injured, and a good chance that you will be burned out.
6. Ice Baths and Recovery
I know you are thinking that I’m crazy for even mentioning ice baths. Ha Ha! Don’t worry, they are not as bad as you think. My amazing husband found a solution to make ice baths feel good. Curious? Here is what you do:
When you are done running a long run, fill you bath tub about 1/2 way up with freezing cold water. Once it is filled 1/2 way, turn on your shower to hot. Climb into your freezing bath and sit in the freezing water while the hot water sprays from your shower onto your head. I try and stay in there for 5 to 10 minutes. You will notice a huge difference in your legs when you are one with your ice bath! I highly recommend it.
I also mention recovery. After a long run, it is very important to take the next day off and recover. Your legs will need it and your body will too!
7. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes on long runs it is hard to stay hydrated. The night before a long run, we would go and drop water along our route so that we could get a drink. You could also pick a route that has a few drinking fountains or water stops in it. With this last run, we used something called the BottleBand. It may look like a simple product, but my husband and I loved it! It can fit onto any water bottle, big or small, and it makes it so much easier to carry your water. When my husband and I went on trail runs where we couldn’t drop water, we always brought our water with our bottleband.
It is also very important to drink water before and after every run!
Nutrition is an important part of training. Eating healthy will make the runs much easier and you will just feel better! We usually eat pasta or carbs the night before each long run (here is a list of my top pre-race pasta meals). We would also try and eat or drink some protein after each run so help build back some of our muscle. My favorite is chocolate milk. I look forward to it after each run!
9. Race Day
This really is like Christmas to me! I love race day! Some of my tips for race day are:
Go to bed early the night before
I like to eat a piece of toast and 1/2 of a banana about 2 hours before my race starts. My husband likes a tiny bowl of cereal. Practice when doing a long run what your body needs so you will be good to go race day morning.
Go to the bathroom twice or even 3 times. You want to be as empty as you can get before you start running.
Get to the starting line early. I like to get there about 30 minutes before it starts so I can stretch and make one last potty run.
Start out slow. Everyone gets so excited at the beginning. Keep a slow steady pace and you won’t be completely dead at the end.
10. Make it fun!
Lets be honest… you probably won’t win the race. Which is still awesome! The majority of runners don’t run to win the race. They run to be fit, active and to beat their old time (Those are my reasons anyways). Take a minute and look around you before the race begins. It truly is an amazing feeling being by thousands of people who love to run, just like you! Good luck with your race whether is it your first or your ninety-first! Runners Unite!