A while back I shared I was training for a half-marathon. I’ve since then completed two half-marathons all in the month of May. It has been quite a journey. I’ve learned a lot. And I’m contemplating doing a third half-marathon. I know, I may be certifiable but at least if I sign-up for a third, it won’t be until this fall.
It’s been one crazy ride, this goal of completing the half-marathons. And as with everything there were some high’s and lows. I learned a lot with the first one and even more with the second one. I want to take a few minutes to share with you what I learned.
1) It takes time to train Ok so this may seem obvious but to be completely honest, I didn’t realize exactly how much time I would spend training. Initially I was jogging on a treadmill at the gym three times a week. However, once I hit 6 miles it seemed very tedious to run on the treadmill and the weather was warming up. Unfortunately once I got out of the gym I didn’t want to go back. I found my distance decreased because of the weather. I always managed to get my long jogs in, but I skipped several shorter jogs. I spent every Sunday jogging in the afternoon for up to 2.5 hours. When you begin your journey remember it will take you to several hours a week of training.
2) The outfit matters: I knew shoes were important, but your clothes are also important. I took a long time searching for a pair of running capris. I had some strict criteria, I didn’t want them to be see-through. WOW! That was very difficult to find a pair that I felt comfortable wearing. After I found a pair, I bought two as they were super comfy and fit well. For a top, I just used a razor back exercise shirt but you do want to consider your shirt. I found some rubbed funny once I’d put in several miles. When picking out an outfit, pay attention to comfort. Also, wear the clothes for training jogs this way you can see if it rubs anywhere.
3) Make sure you can eat Nutrition is very important both while training and pre-race. I highly recommend maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet while training. During training I would eat a large lunch and then jog 1-2 hours later. The first half-marathon I’d planned on eating before the race. I didn’t factor in two things, one during training I was eating a pretty heavy meal prior to my longer jogs. Two, I didn’t plan on having difficulty eating so early in the morning. Race day I was up and attempted to eat at 4 AM. My stomach couldn’t tolerate food. I ran out of energy very quickly into the race. In preparation for the second one, I woke-up several days and practiced eating my planned breakfast. This made race day much easier.
4) Fuel as you go I learned early on that I needed to fuel on the run. I tried a few different fueling options. GU seems to be one of the most used ones. Both races offered it at some of the water stations. They also offered a sports drink at some of the stations. I tried the GU and carried it with me, but overall I found the texture problematic. It did work, about 15 minutes after eating it, I did notice a slight boost in my energy. I also used Jelly Beans and I had the same boost. During my second half I found Gatorade chews. The texture of these were more favorable than the GU. I didn’t feel the kick of energy like I did from the GU but I didn’t feel tired either. The most important thing about fueling is to do it before you need it. The first half, I waited until I felt the tired set-in. That is too late! The second, I started sooner and felt stronger for longer.
5) Plan to rest following This really took me by surprise. I was expecting some soreness but I wasn’t expect the recommendation and much needed minimum of one week of resting. Even after that week, my hip was painful with exercise. I found jogging a mile difficult. Slowly I was able to jog further distances and by the time my second half arrived I was able to do 10 miles without a whole lot of trouble. Unfortunately, I needed to walk over the last mile. If I had another week or two, I would have been better prepared. I recommend spacing out your races further than 3 weeks for adequate recovering time.
I know I’ve learned so much more than those 5 items. However, I believe those are the most applicable to others. Personally, I also learned that I truly can do more than I think I’m capable. For those well-trained and athletic, the achievement of a half-marathon might not seem that great. But for me, it was an amazing accomplishment.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may mature and complete, not lacking anything James 1:4