It’s been a while since I’ve officially raced a half marathon (just a little over two years to be exact) but Rock n Roll San Francisco is just around the corner so its time, once again, to suck it up buttercup. While my end goal this year is full marathon number two, believe it or not, 13.1 still makes me nervous. As I pondered the race this morning in the shower (you know, the place where we ALL get our best ideas), I thought back to my very first half marathon, which ironically, was also in San Francisco. What did I do to prepare? What would I have done better? Why did I decide to eat an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on the drive home afterward? (See also: why WOULDN’T I do that?!)
I remember having all of the questions, and none of the resources. Running was still somewhat new to me so I didn’t have too many friends that I could reach out too. Of course, there was the internets, but who reads blogs and trust strangers? Thus, I present you with some helpful tips for preparing for your first half marathon.
- Picking the race: go with a run that includes some fun! Pick somewhere that you’ll have to travel to, but not too far or tricky to get to. I’d go with a place you are somewhat familiar with, but will still present you with some new scenes to pass the time on your run. That’s why I went with San Francisco – it was a short 3.5 hour drive from home that I had been to a few times, but hadn’t seen enough of. I knew how to get there, could plan a strategy around booking a hotel and the finish line and had a few pre and post race restaurants already planned out.
- Part two: One thing I love about the Rock n Roll Races is that there’s always a free concert that coincides with it. At my first RNR, I got to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis before the race and was so pumped on the show that it fueled the rest of my run! Find something that has a fun component to it. Tiffany necklace? Beer garden at the end? Running through Disneyland? This just gives you some extra motivation for getting across that finish line.
- Pinterest allllll the training plans. Seriously – look at a few and decide which one is most feasible for you. I tend to go with fewer short runs during the week, one long weekend run and three to four days of strength training. Why? Because it better protects my hips and I don’t get burnt out from running as quickly. The best way to figure out what will work for you is to just go for it. There’s nothing wrong with changing your plan to better conquer your challenges and Pinterest is there to help you get it done! I guess I am too – so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help picking a plan.
- Buy a new pair of running shoes. DON’T be like me and think you can run long distances in $30 sneakers from Payless or classified “running” shoes from the Nike Outlet. Take an hour to visit your local running or sports specialty store and ask someone to help you find the perfect pair. My life (and my feet) changed the second I stepped foot into Reno Running Company for some new kicks. The right store will analyze your running style, narrow down the type of shoe you need and even try and find something that fits your style (hello purple and pink Mizunos).
- Make a running playlist. Making a new one of these has been on my to-do list for a while. My personal computer recently died and with it went years and years and years of my favorite songs. What’s left of it, are my iTunes purchases and a very minimal list. Thanks to Spotify, I’ve been able to at least quickly select some playlists made by others (Punk Rock Workout being my favorite). Pick out 20-30 songs that make you dance, smile and move and group them together. They’ll keep you going along the way and help you pace out your miles. Don’t be ashamed to add whatever it is that will get you going – remember, this is for YOUR ears and feet. (queue Esther Dean’s “Drop It Low” in the background of my life).
I’ll never forget that last half mile of my first half marathon. I cried, I pep talked, I even picked up the pace. It helped that a fireman in a tuxedo was waiting at the finish line with a Tiffany’s necklace for me, but that’s not why I’ll never forget it. Me, who at her heaviest was 263 pounds, was conquering the world. My hope for every aspiring runner is to have their finish line moment, there are few things in the world quite like it.
Sign up for Rock n Roll San Francisco, April 8 in the Bay! Use the code RNRRNB2018 to save $15 on registration. See you there!
I’m writing this on five hours of sleep with a 2:50 a.m. alarm. Today was one of the rare, but ‘part of my job’ days where I had to be at work at 4 a.m. There are certain triggers that make me my most productive, most creative or most delirious. Today is a little bit of both and the trigger was being up before the sunrise. The other big trigger is when I’m sick. Seriously, 8 p.m. on a Friday and you can bet your ass I’m on the couch with a glass of wine on my third hour of binge-watching. But, strike me with a nasty cold and I’m waiting to accept my tenth mission from the chore-gods. I deliriously digress…
As I was sitting in a meeting yesterday, we got off-topic and started talking about working out on lunch breaks. YES, it sucks to get back to your desk and be a sweaty, hot mess the rest of the day. YES, it sucks to slip back into your work attire from said sweaty, hot mess. But when it’s 5 p.m. and you realize you can just go straight home because you got your fit girl on instead of your fat girl on (we have the most irresistible peanut butter cookies in our employee cafeteria…) it makes all the four hours of gym smells worth it. In said discussion, I went on and on about my lunch time workout hacks, when finally a lightbulb went on. “Hey! I should write a blog on that!”
So here you go. 6 Lunch Time Workout Hacks (so there’s no excuses).
- Baby wipes are not just for babies! I love me some green tea or aloe vera-infused Huggies. While nothing is as good as an ice cold shower after a sweaty betty sesh, a nicely scented wipe down can get you through the 4-5 hours you have left in the day.
- Pack your hair dryer. Now, I know you aren’t washing your hair in the employee bathroom sinks, but your hair will be wet from perspiration, as will other areas. Use the cool setting on your Revlon 5000 to eliminate any moisture. A small desk fan can be helpful, too.
- Freshen up with some dry shampoo, pack your foundation for touch-ups and don’t forget to carry a travel-sized deodorant and some perfume to re-apply post workout.
- Bring some dryer sheets or foot powder for your work shoes. Either will absorb the sweat and eliminate the stink.
- Pack extra underwear. You may have read before that I’m pretty particular about my undies when it comes to working out. If I’m going to workout at lunch, I have a pair to workout in and a fresh new pair for when I get back into my work clothes. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
- If still doubtful, remember that even a 30 minute walk is great for your heart. Bring some tennies (don’t hate on the pencil skirt and Nikes look) and explore the walking areas outside your workplace. You won’t get quite as sweaty, your makeup won’t smear and you never know what new discoveries will come about.
Well – I’m still on “running rest” but not losing hope just yet. The pain in my foot is diminishing daily and I’m hoping I’ll be able to log some miles this weekend (60 degree weather!!). To ensure I stay on track, I’m determined to get to the gym 4-5 times a week, even if it means limping my way from dumbbell to dumbbell. Not being able to run isn’t the end of the world (so I say to you, but in my head I’m thinking otherwise) and it certainly doesn’t mean the end to my good health and awesome muscle improvement on my shoulders and back. If you ever see me at the gym, then yep, I am checking myself out.
I was pretty proud of the workout I invented yesterday so I thought I’d share it with you all – copyrighted, trademarked and… just kidding, don’t try this at home. Ww = with weight. I used 15 pound weights, but go at your own strength. If you’re just starting out, I recommend an eight.
- One mile on the treadmill, at your own pace (Okay, I ran a LITTLE during to test the waters. Fifteen minutes later….)
Round 1, 10 reps each:
- Hammer curls, ww
- Hip Raises, ww
- Shoulder Presses, hips up, ww
- Shoulder Flies, hips up, ww
- Ankle grabs
- Repeat x 4
Round 2, 10 reps each
- Dead lifts, ww
- Tricep push backs, ww
- Bicep handouts, ww
- Side plank dips, each side
- Repeat x 4
Round 3, 10 reps each
- Ice Skaters
- Tricep dips
- Bicycle Abs
- Squats, ww
- Repeat x 4
Depending on your speed, this should take you about 30-40 minutes to complete, but don’t rush! Runners often hear and say, “Enjoy the miles” so in lieu of my running rest, Enjoy the muscles…. that won’t work well when you go to the park afterwards to play baseball.
Before every big race, I have pre-big-day traditions that, like carb-loading and hydrating, I wouldn’t feel ready to run without. In anticipation of running the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland in ten days, I thought I’d share one tradition that has turned out to be one of the most important, albeit, life changing.
Buying new socks.
I instantly feel fifty years older after typing that, but it’s true. One of my favorite race day preparations is heading to the Reno Running Company and scoping out the two synthetic foot coverings that will take me anywhere from ten to soon twenty-six-point-two miles. What color should I get? Should I stray from my favorite brand? Would it be weird if I sniffed them gleefully in the middle of the store because I never thought I could know such happiness?
Sorry, that got weird.
Truthfully, socks are often overlooked by runners (including myself for a long time) and like a great pair of running shoes, they can, and do, make all the difference. From protecting your ankles to warding off blisters and cuts to helping with blood flow — here are four tips for picking the perfect running socks:
- Avoid cotton at all costs. Since our feet happen to be one of the parts of our body where we sweat the most, you need a fabric that will control moisture. Otherwise, you risk a soggy foot and bigger chance at a few nasty blisters. Instead, look for socks with synthetic fiber that will wick the moisture off of your feet.
- Get the right fit. Since I’m a long lost cousin of Big Foot (size 11s represent…), I tend to buy mens socks because they provide full coverage and better ankle support. And because no part of your body is safe from chafing, a good fitting pair of running socks will protect you from the aforementioned worst feeling in the world. If you’re purchasing at a running store, they’ll most likely have some samples you can try on, or at the least, a good exchange policy.
- For faster recovery, try compression socks. Lots of runners wear them on long runs to support blood flow, while others will wear them post-run to reduce lactic acid build-up.
- Get funky! Pick your favorite color, pick a bold pattern, pick something that’s you because when your feet hit the pavement, nothing is more important than feeling confident that you’ll have a rockstar performance.
And there you have it! My favorite brand is Feetures, but I’ve also purchased from Brooks and Nike. What’s your favorite brand?
Forgive me Gym Gods, for I have sinned… it’s been three days since my last real workout.
No big deal, right? Pair that with four days of cookies and casseroles and you’ve got yourself a real problem at that next workout. Thanks, Thanksgiving.
Today was like day one all over again – only in more ways than one. I started working with a personal trainer at Evoke Fitness. I’ve done their infamous 30 Day Body Challenge a few times now, and always like what I see at the end. In fact, Evoke is the place where I’ve felt my strongest and weakest. I’ve jumped higher, lifted heavier and ran faster under the 30 Day Challenge. But I’ve also beaten myself up over the weight I didn’t lose during my second challenge and landed myself in the ER after a catastrophic game of Burpee Tag… no really. Try explaining that one to the doctor as he’s X-raying your ankle. I digress – today was day one all over again.
Strength training is the one thing I’ve never put much focus on, despite knowing that it would help me run faster, prevent injury, lose more weight, tone up and just be an all around stronger athlete. So when I signed up for the Marathon, I made a deal with myself that I would focus on more than just cardio. Strength training is important for runners for many reasons. The biggest thing for me is that I’m building muscle on the parts of my body that help me run further and faster, but with less impact. Pavement can be so hard on your body – it’s nice to slow things down a bit. Plus, running works your muscles the same way every time to the point where it’s clockwork and you’re no longer building, just maintaining. The other plus of strength training? It boosts your metabolism and wakes up those hormones that burn fat.
Additional reading: Ten Reasons Why Runners Should Include Weight Training
My body felt weak today from the Thanksgiving destruction. I couldn’t believe how badly I was shaking. I certainly am going to feel it all tomorrow. But the important thing is that it’s done.
Personal Training Session #1:
- Half-mile treadmill run, moderate pace
- Round 1 (Repeat 3 times)
- 90lb leg presses, 15 reps
- 40lb leg lifts, 20 reps
- 20 weighted, alternating lunges into bicep curls
- 15 tricep dips
- Round 2 (Repeat 3 times)
- 75lb sled push 10 yards
- 15lb shoulder presses, 10 reps
- 15lb shoulder flies, 10 reps
- Full sit-ups, 10 reps
- 10lb skull crushers, 10 reps
- Round 3 (Repeat 3 times)
- 60lb lateral press, 15 reps
- 10lb elevated front raises, 12 reps
- Elevated leg lifts, 15 reps
- Round 4 (Repeat 2 times)
- 15lb, single leg rows, 15 reps each side
- Balanced V-ups on bench, 15 reps