Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Post-Race

Photo by Phil Roeder | Republished with Creative Commons license

Photo by Phil Roeder | Republished with Creative Commons license

It’s about time that I post my final installment of tips for running your first half marathon. So far, I’ve covered what to keep in mind before the race, as well as on race day, but work is not done once you cross that finish line. So once you receive your finishers’ metal, what’s next?

  1. As tempting as it may be to sit down after you finish, don’t! (I may be guilty of this following the B.A.A. Half…) Instead, walk around to keep the blood flowing and help prevent leg cramps or fainting.
  2. Stretch. Once you’ve caught your breath, find an open space to stretch and flush out lactic acid. Here are some good stretches for runners.
  3. Rehydrate. According to Active, a good rule of thumb is to drink one quart of fluid for every half-hour of running.
  4. Refuel. Most road races provide some kind of post-race nourishment, from bagels to protein bars to fruit. A balanced post-race snack includes carbs, protein and some fat about 30 to 60 minutes after the race to start replenishing your glycogen storage.
  5. Avoid the temptation of a hot shower. A cold shower directed at the legs or ice massage with an ice pack constricts blood vessels and muscle tissue and prevents blood from pooling in your legs, says Active.
  6. Celebrate! Go ahead, brag on social media and call all your supporters. You did it. However, practice moderation, as alcohol inhibits the re-hydration process.
  7. The day after the race (or maybe even for a few days) avoid any fitness. Instead, use a foam roller to tend sore muscles, and do plenty of stretching.
  8. Reflect. What can you learn from this experience, and what can you do differently next time?
  9. Start to slowly return to your normal workout schedule. Cross training is a great way to ease back into things without giving your legs a pounding.
  10. Sign up for your next race. Well okay, maybe not just yet. But many runners tend to feel some post-race blues after such a climactic event, so having an idea of your next running goal will help you overcome this.

I hope you enjoyed this mini-series. Let me know if you would like to see more in the future, as I never seem to be short on advice!

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November Project

November Project, a free grassroots morning workout tribe, has attracted hundreds of members in the Boston area and across the nation. I’ve been a returning member for several months, and love the energy that the founders and participants generate at 6:30 a.m. This video takes a look at Boston’s Wednesday morning stairs workout at Harvard Stadium.

The tribe meets every around Boston Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m. Newcomers are more than welcome, so I suggest you check it out. The movement has also begun to expand nationwide.

UPDATE: November Project recently landed a spot on the COVER of Runner’s World magazine. Check it out!

Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Race Day

Today could not be more appropriate to provide my second installment of tips for running your first half marathon. This post will focus on race day preparation, and just hours ago, Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo, both of Kenya, crossed the finish line in Central Park to win the New York City Marathon. For additional features and coverage of the five-borough race, check out the New York Times and Runner’s World. The New York Times also created a Run Well training tool, where you can fill in your information and receive personal training schedules from around the web.

Photograph of the New York City Marathon in 2009, taken by Rebecca Wilson. | Republished with Creative Commons license.

Photograph of the New York City Marathon in 2009, taken by Rebecca Wilson. Republished with Creative Commons license.

But anyway, let’s get to the race day tips for your first 13.1:

  1. Have everything laid out the night before, including your clothes, breakfast and other race day essentials. If you are using an mp3 player, make sure it’s charged and your playlist is ready.
  2. Wake up early enough to ingest plenty of water and allow time to digest. You can find what works for you by treating your long run mornings as if they were race day.
  3. Don’t eat or wear anything different. Again, by now you should know what works for you because of your long run preparation. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 15 degrees warmer than it is. However, wear plenty of layers to stay warm up to the gun.
  4. Take some time to mentally prepare. Envision yourself crossing the finish line feeling healthy and proud.
  5. Get to the race location early. Calculate how much time you’ll need to pick up your packet/bib and check your baggage, and add plenty of time for bathroom lines.
  6. Line up properly. Situating yourself in the wrong starting corral could lead to a race run too quickly, too early.
  7. Break up the half marathon by setting small milestones. The marathon for me was a mental battle, and I won by seeing the race as a series of three 4-mile runs, which was more doable in my eyes than thirteen 1-mile runs.
  8. Be your own cheerleader. I found it helpful to talk to myself, often acting as my own personal trainer. “Come on, what’s three more miles? Twenty-five minutes and I get a cheeseburger!”
  9. Create your own “pacer.” I find that I run better when I’m competing with others, so I picked out two to three people that were running at my pace, and even a few seconds faster, to push me to stay strong.
  10. Remember why you’re running. If it’s for a charity, or just to accomplish a personal goal, you chose to do this. Most importantly, HAVE FUN.

What do you guys think? I hope this advice make race day seem less intimidating. Stay tuned for a final installment of post-race tips, which focus on what to do immediately after and in the days following your first half marathon.

Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Before the Race

Photo by Ed Yourdon | Republished from Flickr with Creative Commons License

Photo by Ed Yourdon | Republished from Flickr with Creative Commons License

As the New England winter rears its head and marathon season draws to a close, I’ve had some time to reflect on my big race. In the post about my first half marathon, I promised a follow-up blog with tried and true half marathon advice. Below are 10 simple tips to consider in the months leading up to the race. Over the next few days, I’ll also include posts with tips to keep in mind during the race (mental toughness is key) and after the race (don’t plop on the couch just yet). So check out the tips below, and I hope they inspire you to take the first step towards your 13.1.

Before the race:

  1. Start off small. You should run a 5K or 10K at some point before your first half marathon. This helps with nerves and makes sure you’re capable of the next step.
  2. Pick a customized plan and set a realistic goal. There are tons of free plans available online, but pick one that is tailored to your fitness level and weekly availability.
  3. Prepare with the right gear. Most importantly, make sure you have a good pair of running shoes that you can break in before the race.
  4. Practice proper breathing, pacing and form. Your long run days provide a good time to get this tricky trio down.
  5. Research your race and train accordingly. Learn the course, and run it at least once before race day. Know what surface it’s run on, what the weather should be, and whether the course is hilly or flat.
  6. Stay motivated and on-track with a training journal. I used the Nike+ Running app to keep track of my pace, distance and routes.
  7. Don’t skip the weekly long run, which you can treat as a practice for race day. Eat, dress, and prepare as you will on the big day.
  8. Eat right. This is often half the battle, and can make all the difference on how your body functions.
  9. Rest and recover. Don’t push yourself to or through an injury. Listen to your body and take a break when it’s telling you to.
  10. Taper in the week leading up to the event. Failing to do so could leave you sore and exhausted at the starting line.

What do you think of these? What worked for you while training for your first half?

Fitness Favorites

Happy Friday! We’ve made it. Take a break from work and check out these fitness links from around the web. And don’t let those 40 degree temps keep you from getting your sweat on today.

  1. Here are the top 10 fitness trends for 2014. Topping the list: high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  2. This weather has me dreaming of a fitness retreat vacation, something I’ve had my eye on for a while.
  3. Experts caution you to not get too focused on comparing yourself to others’ fitness and health norms. Do you!
  4. To wear shoes or not to wear shoes? Benefits of barefoot running remain unproven.
  5. Adorable video of kids trying healthy Halloween candy. Personally, Halloween is definitely a cheat holiday. Calories who?

Fitness Favorites: A Product Guide

runner

This past week has fitness gear junkies, like myself, excited about recent product announcements from major industry players. On Tuesday, October 15, Nike announced the new Nike+ Fuelband SE. The following day, rival Adidas announced its own smartwatch, a potential competitor for the Nike+ Sportswatch GPS.

Amidst all this product buzz, I would like to share with you my favorite fitness gear that has truly motivated me to get moving and helped me reach my fitness goals. I think it’s important to note that I am in no way affiliated with any of these companies, and my brand loyalty is simply derived from years of trial and error.

MUST-HAVES

  • Brooks Ghost 6 running shoes: Since my first road race over a year ago, Brooks Ghost running shoes have provided support and durability in a variety of fun colors. I bought these in blue and yellow shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing to show my support for Boston runners. I highly recommend Marathon Sports for finding your perfect running shoe.
  • Nike Pro Essential 2.5″ compression shorts: Appropriate for lifting, running or cross-training, I’m on my way to acquiring more colors to add to my grey and black pairs.
  • Nike Element Half-Zip (currently on sale!): A long-sleeve top made with Dri-FIT material that is perfect for those cool fall days, equipped with thumbholes.
  • lululemon Swiftly Headband and Ultimate Padded Run Sock: Small investments can make a big difference.
  • iPod Shuffle: I’m not a huge fan of arm bands, which often slip or need readjusting mid-workout, This clippable and colorful iPod features Voiceover, playlists and 15-hour battery life, with storage for hundred of songs.
  • Foam roller: One of these (any brand) is necessary for those days you are too sore to make it to the gym.

WISH LIST

Also, this October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are interested in purchasing products that will help fund breast-cancer-related research, support, and education, be sure to check out this pink-ribbon product guide.

Did I miss any of your favorite fitness products?

Boston Half Marathon 2013: Check.

This past Sunday, four months of training finally paid off. After a 6 a.m. train ride and shuttle bus, pre-race jitters, and four long waits in line for the porta potties, I achieved my goal. I had hoped to run the race in under two hours, and I finished with an official time of 1:53:57.

Overall, the course was beautiful (along the Emerald Necklace), but the entire route was either uphill or down, which proved tricky in maintaining a steady pace. However, there was no shortage of interesting and inspiring runners along the way. I passed two men in their 80’s, a man in a football helmet (who finished right behind me) and a man who juggled three baseballs the entire time (who, sadly, finished right before me). Additionally, the fans were incredible and would shout out the name on my bib with encouraging cheers. It was such an enjoyable time (once I regained feeling in my lower body), and I am absolutely doing another one in the near future.

2013 Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won the race with a time of 1:00:34, breaking the course record set last year. Kim Smith (New Zealand) won her second straight BAA Half Marathon for the women’ side and set a record of her own at 1:09:14. Stephen Sambu (Kenya), who placed third in the race, and Smith won the 2013 B.A.A. Distance Medley and earned $100,000 each. This was Smith’s second straight Distance Medley title.

For a more detailed recap of the race, check out the official news story from the Boston Athletic Association, or the Boston.com recap. Also, click on the pictures above to see enlarged images of Desisa, Smith and myself during the race.

In the future, I’ll post personal tips for preparing and running your first half marathon. Anything you would like me to touch upon?