How has this not happened already? I have learned a lot about running through my experience! Here's my running background:
- I HATED running in high school, I only did it to stay in shape for softball and soccer.
- I picked it up in college because I was no longer playing any sport.
- I started running a "quick 2 miles" everyday.
- I decided I wanted to start doing long distances and worked my way up to running 8 miles.
- I then decided I wanted to train for a marathon.
- I ran my 1st marathon in May 2008 in Cleveland, OH with a time of 3:56:51, this was a 9:02 minute/mile pace.
- I ran my 2nd marathon, the Dallas White Rock Marathon in December 2008, in 3:57:58, 9:05 min/mile pace. This race was tough because for about 10 miles around a lake I had to fight against really strong winds!
- I ran my 3rd marathon December 2010, the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon which was quite hilly. I ran this is 4:01:16. So, you're probably thinking, why did your time get worse each time? Well, I was not incorporating speedwork into my training and I also was not FUELING my body correctly and would completely be hitting a wall at the end of the race. The Charlotte Marathon, I was so dead I had 4 miles left so I tried to figure out the pace I could run to still finish under 4 hours and was running 10 minute miles at the end, SHOCKER I did my math wrong and ended up with over 4 hours because I was relying on my Garmin GPS watch which is not exactly accurate with mileage and I forgot to keep that in mind.
- I'm excited to run another one to see my new time, my goal is to Qualify for the Boston Marathon within 1-2 years!
- Some of my 1/2 Marathon results, I can't find the results for a few of them:
- I ran my first half marathon in 1:50:08 (8:24 min/mile pace)
- Then 1:50:54 (8:28 min/mile pace)
- 1:46:02 (8:06 min/mile pace)
- 1:47:53 (8:15 min/mile pace)
- 1:46:37 (8:09 min/mile pace)
- Most recently 3/24/13: 1:44:17 is my PR (7:58 min/mile pace)
Okay, so there's some of my pre-race times, but what have I learned from my training and racing? I have put together some of my most valuable running tips that have helped me become a stronger runner.
My Best Running Advice
- REHYDRATE! NEVER do a long training run without bringing water and some type of energy and electrolyte replacement (I use GU Energy Gels, click HERE to learn more.) There are energy jelly beans, energy blocks, etc. There are so many brands and types of products, find one that works for you.
- USE ENERGY REPLACEMENT! I use my GU Energy Gel EVERY 30 minutes on my long runs and I take it with water. I used to take it when I felt like I was dying, and it was too late. THIS IS LIKE CRACK. It has made SUCH a difference for my long runs.What's in the GU?Carbohydrates - GU provides athletes with a dose of 100 calories in the form of 70-80% maltodextrin and 30-20% fructose (The ratio depends upon the flavor.). Why the mix? It’s a complex carbohydrate, and studies have shown that some complex carbs are actually digested faster than simple sugars like table sugar and honey.
Amino Acid Blend - GU features a unique blend of amino acids to combat muscle fatigue, accelerate the conversion of carbohydrates into usable energy, and maintain mental focus.Electrolytes - Sodium and potassium to replenish what is lost during strenuous activity.Caffeine - Some GU flavors are caffeinated while others are not. We add caffeine for two reasons: It acts as a stimulant and it lowers the perceived effort.
- Update your playlist often! I notice my runs drag when my playlist is outdated, I always train with music, but don't usually race with it. Make sure you have upbeat music to push you, slower songs sometimes allow you to slow down.
- Find new routes! Running the same trail/neighborhood everyday can be boring and monotonous and take the joy out of running. Use www.mapmyrun.com to find new routes and know the exact distance you will be running!
- INCLUDE SPEEDWORK! If you don't push yourself, you will never get better! Get on a track and run a few 400, 800, or 1200 meters. 1 lap = 400 meters, 4 laps = 1 mile. TIME YOURSELF!
- GPS WATCH! If you are serious about figuring out your pace, invest in a GPS watch. I personally use the Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS watch, found for about $200-$230 on amazon. Here is a link to look at what the watch does. http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Forerunner-GPS-Enabled-Sports-Monitor/dp/B0046BTK14/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1366037768&sr=1-1&keywords=garmin+forerunner It calculates distance, pace, heartrate (if you're wearing the heart rate monitor) and calories. It also comes with software so you can upload all your runs to your computer to keep track of your training progress. It's a lot of money, but it is one of the BEST investments I have made for my running career.
- "FEEL THE PACE" DITCH the watch every once in a while though so you are NOT solely relying on GPS to tell you your pace, you should still "feel" the pace and be able to gauge about how fast you are running.
- FIND A RUNNING BUDDY! Man, I wish I still had running buddies here in Charlotte that were my pace because we really pushed each other and runs were always so much more fun! Try contacting Charlotte Running Company- they have multiple locations and actually have running groups for people of all fitness levels to run together. Not from Charlotte? Google running groups from your area and show up to run with them! You can meet new people and enjoy a new route!
- CROSS TRAIN! I used to run 6 days/week with only one day off. I felt so burnt out all the time, NOW I run 3 days a week and cross train 3 days a week. I either bike, swim, row, hike, or take a fitness class on my cross training days. This has helped me not feel run down and my legs feel fresh!
- Find a training program and write it down in your schedule so you know you're running X miles each day at X intensity/pace/speed. I used Hal Higdon's 1/2 and Full Marathon training forever. www.halhigdon.com and it is great for beginning runners first starting out with longer distances. He offers beginner/intermediate/novice/advanced. I am most recently using the FIRST Training Program see details HERE. I bought the book used for like $7 on amazon. Here is the link for a used copy. http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1609618025/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1366038393&sr=8-1&keywords=first+running&condition=used
- SHOES. OH EM GEE. This is huge it took YEARS for me to finally find the right shoe. I have a short wide foot and I supinate when I run, which means I run on the outside of my feet. I even walk this way, I'm a weirdo. BROOKS has been the best brand of running shoe for me and is my saving grace! I can't wear Asics, even the "wide" brand because it still felt like the bones in my feet were being crushed. I either wear the Brooks Ghost or Defyance because these are neutral shoes which help with my supination. Most people pronate when running, which means their foot tends to land rolled inward which is opposite of me, therefore most running shoes have extra padding on the inside of the shoe to prevent this. I DIE when I wear these types of shoes because it pushes me out even MORE causing pain. I suggest you go to a running specialty store where the knowledgeable staff will access your gait/run and pair you with a shoe that fits best. It feels like I'm running on marshmallows, I LOVE IT! Also, get good quality moisture wicking socks and clothing- it makes a difference! MEN- it is common for men to get bloody nipples from chafing on long runs- wear dry-fit clothing and you can also put bandaids on your nipples- I'm not kidding, you'll be sorry if it hurts to wear a shirt the next day because you didn't use precaution.
- BODY GLIDE = HEAVEN! Watch this 1 minute YouTube Clip to see why BodyGlide is so important. Click HERE. You can find it at Walmart, Dicks, or any specialty running store. I call it "chub rub" when your thighs rub together and cause little painful bumps, haha. If I forgot my BodyGlide and I'm in a pinch- I use deodorant on my inner thighs and where my shirt would rub under my armpits. Men- also put this on your chest to avoid the bloody nipples I described above. I'm telling it to you straight people!
- MENTAL TALK- Don't go out thinking this is gonna suck, or I hope I don't die before your runs. TELL YOURSELF YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU ARE STRONG, YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOU WERE YESTERDAY. Mental negativity has put a damper on SO many of my runs/races. I am focusing on being positive and ONLY lifting myself up and running has become so much more enjoyable.
- Find a reason why you need to keep going! At the end of long training runs, half marathons or marathons, you sometimes need motivation to keep pushing! I was watching an IRONMAN documentary and this one Firefighter would name a reason he was running for every lightpost he passed. I do the same thing at any tree, post, sign, etc. At the end of my last race it was every 15 seconds I told myself why I was pushing hard and why I would be better because of it. I found people in my life that inspire/motivate me as well as loved ones that I was running for the love & support they have given me throughout life. This is a GREAT way to stay positive and tell yourself how loved & lucky you are and to KEEP GOING!
- DIET/CARB LOADING! Eating clean has helped my running SO MUCH! I feel so much stronger! I make sure to eat a high carb meal such as spagghetti and meatballs the night before a race/long run to fuel my body. I always make sure to eat enough carbs about 1.5-2 hours before I run too. I have oatmeal, a banana and lots of water. You can also drink Gatorade if your stomach tolerates it. NO MATTER WHAT- do not try new foods/drinks/energy replacements the day of the race. Do it in training to find out if you have any issues! I have found research that says eat only 15% of your calories from Carbs for 3 days then eat 75% of your total calories from Carbs for 3 days leading up to the race. This means 6 days away from your race you start eating LESS carbs then 3 days away you LOAD ON the carbs. You deplete your carb stores first then REPLENISH THEM IN FULL. I do this every race, and personally this works great for me. MAKE sure you find pre-race foods that work for you and stick to them- no need to ruin a race due to GI issues. I also eliminate caffeine for 2-3 weeks before my race so that when I take my GU gels that contain caffeine I notice it more. I have 1/2 cup black coffee the day of the race with my water as well.
THOSE ARE MY TIPS! Let me know if you have any qustions. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime! I am HERE to help you! If you would like me to be your FREE Health Coach- just ask what I can do for you!
HAVE A GREAT DAY! AND GET MOVING!