Every time I stand on the sidelines and cheer friends and family on as they race towards the finish line of half or full marathons, I feel exhilarated and inspired. I think, “if they can do this, so could I!” And so, after using my internship year, nuptials, and new job as convenient scapegoats, I have finally run out of excuses, and figured it was time for me to run my first half marathon! I’ve been training for the past 5 weeks, with 7 more to go, and I’ve learned a lot about my physical capabilities, mental toughness, eating intuitively, and enjoying running! Today I’m sharing with you my biggest lessons learned so far on my road to 13.1
Podcasts over Music
When I’m at the gym I watch CNN (maybe not a good idea anymore as my blood is at a constant simmer these days) or the Food Network, and until recently, if I was running outside I was listening to tunes. However, with longer runs, boredem with today’s top 40, and the frank need to sometimes distract myself from counting each tenth of a mile go by I have found myself really loving podcasts. The easy conversational tone and interesting subject matter has given me something to turn my mind to and I actually find I’m not missing my old pump up songs that I would rely on to get me through hills or one mile further. My favorite podcasts have been: “Sound Bites with Melissa Joy Dobbins”, a series of fun conversations with dietitians and food/health professionals; “A Taste of the Past”, a Heritage Radio program taking listeners through time and around the globe through food; and “The Coach Jenny Show” a podcast for runners, by runners. If you’re in a music funk, try a podcast!
SO SO HUNGRY
I have also learned what gut wrenching hunger feels like, and more importantly for me, actually listening to that hunger and giving back my body all the good stuff. The first Sunday I ran 6 miles I thought I refueled properly by having a filling protein and carb breakfast, veggie and protein packed lunch, a snack (or a few) in the afternoon, and a satisfying slow cooker dinner. Yet when bedtime hit I could NOT fall asleep because I was suddenly STARVING. I think I spent the next 3 hours on the couch eating yogurt, nuts, toast with peanut butter, and some fruit until my gut finally allowed me to drift asleep. Lesson learned to say the least. Since that night I’ve been dilligent with my meals, being sure to include complex carbohydrates and protein- usually lots of eggs and legumes- and always, always having a snack with me at work or on the go, because you never know when that hunger will strike.
With a high of 60 degrees today, and a blizzard rolling in overnight, the weather in NYC has been unpredictable to say the least. These changes in temperature have made dressing for runs a fun new experiment. Some days I leave the house overdressed, and others I’m not layered up enough and spend much of my run with clenched fists for warmth. My suggestion is to layer up your tops and even hand-wear. A tank top or wicking shirt underneath a warm running pullover should usually been enough for those 35-40 degree days , but don’t be afraid to use a long-sleeve top under your outer layer, or even to add another outer layer such as a vest or windbreaker jacket for those really cold and windy days. For my hands I had been alright with my tech gloves from Athleta, but I’m starting to think about layering up by first slipping on these thin Lululemon gloves (a gift from my awesome sister-in-law) for double layered warmth. We’ll see if these strategies work out even as the snow rolls in!
Taking the Time
I thought starting one job was going to take up a lot of time, but training for a half marathon has sort of become like a second job, eating in to after work and weekend free-time hours- I can’t imagine how a person squeezes in the time to train for a full marathon! I find myself running a bit faster than my pace during my weekday runs because I just want to get the run over with and get home to cook dinner, do the laundry, review things for work, etc. On the weekends I take my long runs nice and slow, but still end up feeling like half my day is gone by the time I finish, come home and stretch and refuel. This training thing is time-consuming, but I’m tyring not to skip days in my plan and am keeping my eye on the end goal.
Any other runners out there experience these same things? Any tips to share?