It has been a bit over a week since I ran my first half marathon. Until the day before the race, I kind of forgot how nervous I was when I first signed up. I started to feel stronger during my training and my nerves took a back seat, but when I arrived in Disney World, I quickly remembered (some of those nerves were because I finally was meeting the man of my dreams, Mickey Mouse). Now that I am a half marathon survivor and looking for my next race, I thought I’d share some tips that I used as a first timer to train, other than running.
First things first, strength training:
I read that when many first timers are training, they nix any other type of exercise. Believe it or not, doing this makes it harder on your body. Now don’t interpret this as needing to get out there and bench press 400 lbs. (unless you can, then go you). Just doing light weights really helped build my muscles to be able to give me that extra strength I needed when I was running. I typically used a 10 lb. dumbbell set for arms and legs.
Along with free weights, I used medicine balls for abs and stretching:
Medicine ball workouts can be fun; just grab a partner and start tossing and twisting. I used them with my husband, Matthew, to mostly work out abs. Our two favorites were:
- Stand back to back (well more like butt to back for us, he is 6’4″ and I’m 5’6″). I had the medicine ball and I twisted to my right side, his left, where he would take the ball. He would then twist to his right, my left, and I would take the medicine ball. Repeat as many times as you want.
- Lay on a mat (do not fall asleep) and do a sit-up holding a medicine ball while your partner stands at your feet (for me, he stood on my feet; sit-ups aren’t my forte quite yet). Once you are at the top of your sit-up, you pass the ball to your partner. They pass it back to you and repeat the process until your ab muscles are banding together to take down your brain.
We also used them to stretch out. Either standing to stretch your back or sitting to stretch out your legs, it is nice to add a little weight to get that extra stretch in. (I recommend partnering to stretch with someone who is 6’4″ and inflexible, it’s an additional ab workout when you are hysterically laughing).
After you are laughing, stretching, and feeling sore, you start to feel proud, so take a selfie!
Ok, this is less physical training and more mental training, but it’s important (why else would I tell you to selfie yourself with sweat all over you). After your workout, when your muscles have stopped being bitter towards you, your endorphins break out the confetti and streamers. You see yourself the way you should: a capable, unstoppable, on-top of the world, rock star. You worked hard, even though you didn’t have to and are getting stronger with every workout, so you deserve to remember that moment! It is less about how beautiful you are on the outside and more about how beautiful and amazing you feel inside. (If you look like the swamp thing on the outside though, you may not want to share publicly. I decided to share regardless, I kinda think he’s cute).
Now, with anything, you need to know what to wear.
When I say you need to know what to wear, I don’t mean hit up J.Crew for a new outfit, I mean, you need to have something that will protect your body while you are running. Chafing is a real thing for men and women (that’s all I’m saying). Make sure you plan for that and dress accordingly. I personally love Lululemon because it has great products that stay in place while running. As far as your hair goes, just keep it off your face. You don’t want to have to worry about anything extra, so pull it back and keep it there. I used this awesome, no slip headband from Sparkly Soul. Besides being covered in glitter, it literally does not budge, it is perfect. Lastly, socks and shoes are really important. I used a padded running sock (I’m not ashamed to say I was padded). As far as shoes go, it’s about preference. I used asics gel kayano-20.
Just for good measure, here are some tips from some pros.
Here’s to negative splits, being a master of the miles and reaching your finish line: