How I trained for my first Half Marathon!
I was this chubby girl through high school and participating in any sport related activity wasn’t really my thing. Of course I was conscious about my weight and how I was going to be perceived by people around me, so I never gave myself a chance to even attempt running, let alone running a race.
After moving to the States things changed and like everyone else who moves and grows, I evolved and so did my body. CrossFit and HIIT workouts became my thing over time, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush after an intense workout, even now its the best feeling in the world and I wouldn’t trade that for anything! I worked out 4-5 days every week (still do) and occasionally there was 1 mile run squeezed into the workout. BUT, I could never run more than a mile, I believed in not being able to run so strongly that everything hurt and I was gasping for breath at the one mile mark.
So here I was in the summer of 2017, with no preconceived notions, training to run my first ever half marathon. How did this even happen!? It all began as a recreational-good weather-Sunday run with friends in a park that had a mud trail. This was followed by my first race local charity 5K, then another 5K and then a 10K…there was no stopping now. Next, I signed up for a half marathon and gave it my all and it was the most exhilarating and emotional experience of my life.
I’m no expert but would like to share how I prepared for my first half marathon and hopefully it can inspire some non-believers out there!
- Of course the first step would be to pick a race and then plan to train for about 2 months prior to the day of the the half marathon. I chose the DIVA Half Marathon as my friends were running that one and it helped that it was local. Running with friends is a plus, don’t think I could’ve ever done this alone!
- My trainer came up with a plan that I tried following as closely as possible. The long runs were reserved for weekends and couple of short runs interspersed during the week along with HIIT workouts. I didn’t run more than 2-3 times a week.
- HIIT workouts and strength training on days I wasn’t running worked out great and prepared my body to endure the long distance runs.
- The long run days will be brutal, especially as you get closer to race day. So its easier to plan the long runs on weekends, I ran mostly on Sundays.
- Stretch for at least 15 minutes before and after the run, I wasn’t good about this but highly recommend it. This is one thing I would like to work on before the next long race.
- Train right, don’t over or under train. It took me about a day to recover from the half marathon and I really owe that to an effective training plan.
- I didn’t change too much of what I normally ate during the week, which included a good and balanced mix of vegetables, protein and some carbs during the week for every meal.
- Weekends meals included khichadi (Indian recipe of rice and lentils cooked with spices) topped with some ghee (clarified butter), legumes, chicken.
- I always ate a small snack and sipped coffee before my long run – half a banana with almond butter, half an RX bar, or a toast with coconut butter.
- I mixed some collagen in water and drank it every single day and continue to do so. This is the best thing I could have found for my skin, bones and joints. I highly recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, this has helped me immensely to recover from long runs. In fact you don’t have to be a runner to consume collagen, its the best supplement I discovered!
- HYDRATE – can’t stress on this enough, drink tons of water and get 8-9 hours of sleep before the long runs.
- Limit alcohol intake and abstain from it few days before the race. In my case, I just didn’t consume any alcohol over the two months of training.
- I ate this gel during the long distance runs, especially after the 5 mile mark. Fueling during the run is as important to be able to sustain till the finish line.
- I did invest in a decent pair of running shoes by Nike. ASICS makes good running shoes as well but you have to find a right fit for your feet and running style.
- When I first started training I used an app on my phone to track time and distance, this wasn’t a good idea at all. I invested in a Garmin GPS enabled sports watch. My phone GPS was way off on distance as compared to the watch, so this was worth the investment.
- I had a runner’s knee issue last year and my right knee still bothers me occasionally. This is the one reason that made me doubt my ability to run a half marathon (before I actually signed up). However I taped my knee with KT Tape for additional support, especially for the long runs. I swear by this and I will use it for long distance runs in the future even if I don’t have a diagnosed injury.
- Bluetooth headphones are a must for all who need to listen to music while running. I bought these Senso headphones or you could opt for nicer ones from Bose.
- This belt worked great to store my phone, fuel to sustain, car keys during the run.
- Training my mind is what helped me run the distance. I think 90% of effort involved in running this was accomplished by making my mind believe that I could do it, the remainder 10% was actually running it.
- There were days when when I was told that maybe I was trying to over achieve or this was a hasty move with not enough training – listen to your body. You will know when its not the right thing to do, your body will tell you!
- Rest days were as important as training days both for the body and the mind.