Brain Brawn & Body
Brain Brawn & Body blogs on health, nutrition/fitness, lifestyle, leisure and finances.
Are You a Miler or a Half-Marathoner?
I started running in high school. As kids we always chased each other, but running in a straight line was new to me. I lived out in the country on a long, hilly road. Once I started to run on my own, my normal route was to run to the highway and back – 1 mile out and 1 mile back. To get there, I had to go up a little hill, then go up a really big hill to complete the first ½ mile. It was always a challenge but one that I enjoyed. Now when I run races and see a hill coming, my adrenaline surges. I’m so excited to charge that hill because I’ve been doing it all my life!
The race landscape has changed over the years. There are many 5K runs, some 2 mile fun runs and walks and this year I heard of my first quarter marathon. Whatever your preferred distance, realize that you can run any distance you want. Really you can! The healthy human body is so amazing and is limited only by our mental attitude. We like to ask newbie runners if they can run a mile. Usually they respond yes. Then we tell them that if you can run 1 mile, you can run 3. Then, if you can run 3, you can run 5. If you can run 5, you can run 10. If you can run 10, you can run a half-marathon – 13.1 miles. So, if you can run 1 mile, you can run a half!
When I decided to run my first half-marathon, my running friends got on board and gave me all their words of wisdom. I welcomed every piece of input and hope you will too.
First, they recommended a training program from Runner’s World, a respected running magazine. Just like anything you do in life where you want to see success, you need a plan. This running plan has been tried and tested by veteran runners and it works. My friends used it, and I successfully use it for every half-marathon I run.
The nice thing about this plan is you only run 3 days a week, and each run has a specific purpose. Without getting overly technical, you are recruiting different muscle fibers in your body that allow you to keep running when one group gets tired. The different runs also boosts your fitness faster than other methods, and it is only a 10 week training program.
The first thing you do is pick your goal time. Do you want to finish in under 2 hours? Then 9:02 is your mile pace. Are you looking for a personal best? When I ran to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I needed to beat a total time of 1:45, so my pace was 8:02. If you are looking to run in a group or for social reasons, the group can decide. Brain Brawn & Body will have a team running the Summerfest Rock ‘N Sole half-marathon. Aaron Perry, the acclaimed diabetic ironman is our team captain. He picked the pace of 10:00 min/mile, so we will come in around 2:11. Aaron will be featured as one of our New Faces in June, and we are excited to run with him. (If you are interested in signing up to run with us, register for the race and then reply here to meet up with us.)
The rest of the training program can be found online at Runner’s World. The training plan also covers half-marathon nutrition. The main point is to eat an energy bar or gel between 7 and 10 miles to ensure you have enough energy to finish the race. The linked article also discusses carb loading the last week of training.
Find a training program that works for you and just get running. Since this training program is only 10 weeks, my first training run is the week of April 6. So, get started!
Another great running program is Blackgirlsrun.com which encourages African American girls to get out there and run. There are some national events in which to participate. They also had a great blog about a first half-marathon race. Read it and enjoy.
A final tip for you. If you haven’t run a long race before, I found this to be one of the best tips my running friends provided. Use BodyGlide, an all-over body lubricant to prevent chafing. Basically, on the morning of the race as you are dressing, apply Glide to any body surface that will have fabric covering it. Then means all areas of your feet, torso, legs, etc. It prevents post-race soreness you would rather avoid!
Get training and see you at the finish line!