Reading this, you may be one of those people who thinks running longer distances seems like a waste of precious free-time, a brutal punishment to the body, or a loner’s activity. I hear you- until about 2 years ago, I was one of those people too. I thought distance running was reserved for those extreme Iron Man or ultra-running athletes. Never did I imagine that when I started some light jogging, as a cardio supplement to yoga, that I’d become so passionate about running longer distances-specifically half marathons.
Yet here I am, more than 1000 miles of training, dozens blisters, more “legs up the wall” sessions than I can count, 2 half marathons later, and I am a self-proclaimed runner. Doris Brown Heritage, the first woman to run a sub 5-minute mile, helps articulate why I’ve found such joy and peace in the many miles I’ve trod. “Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance- you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.”
Running a half marathon can seem really daunting, but I challenge anyone who has even a remote interest in the idea to take a risk and go for it. Get excited about the possibility of accomplishing something that scares you. Be rewarded with a new sense of calm that comes from settling into the familiar breathing patterns and the rhythmic pace of pounding the pavement mile after mile. Leave your life behind for a brief moment and prove something to yourself. Competing teaches patience, perseverance, dedication, and allows for tangible rewards to the process of growth.
Here are a few tips to get you motivated for your first half marathon:
Grab a buddy: Whether you partner up with a friend or join a running group in your area, find comradery within the sport. Most areas have regional run clubs that are full of wise mentor figures and rad running companions. The miles will fly by if you have someone to share them with.
Get the gear: It’s recommended to get fitted for specific shoes that will protect your body’s alignment. No two bodies are the same, and with new and sophisticated technology, you can make sure to get the right shoes to help you go faster and further in your training, without injury. Find a fun top, or a comfy pair of shorts to wear- make the process fun, and look forward to getting ready!
Create a playlist, but don’t get addicted to it: Whether its listening to your favorite tunes, or a newly released album, the perfect playlist of pump-up jams can help get you through the most grueling miles. But be careful, it’s important not to become reliant on music to keep you going. Make sure to rest your ears every once in a while- be present in your surroundings, and listen to your own breathing.
Fuel your body: Running, like all forms of exercise, requires fuel. Filling your body with healthy, and sustaining nutrients will help you build muscle and stamina, as well as keep your body happy as you conquer more miles. Add more protein to your diet, as well as healthy fats and carbs before longer runs to keep you going. Most important of all, drink water before, during, and after your run. Hydration is key!
Find an App: There are several apps out there to guide your progress, make sure you are adding miles safely and steadily, and connec you to other runners training for races. Nike+Running, MapMyRun, RunKeeper, and Endomondo are just some of the choices available on most smart phones.