I am officially a half marathon runner! And I am officially addicted. I never knew I would enjoy the feeling of running a race with other dedicated athletes as much as I did. So much in fact I cannot wait to register for my next race. If anyone has a favorite race or event I should do, let me know!
When I redid my blog recently, I mentioned I wanted to add on a new fitness category to my blog. So here is my first post! I do plan to make my fitness posts useful and information packed with my own personal tips and workouts, but I wanted to first share with you my experience running my first half marathon.
Now, people keep asking me how I actually ran 13.1 miles or how I did so well in my first race — I ran it in just under 2 hours!!! Something I was incredibly shocked and proud of! — and the truth is, I have always been a runner, just not distance oriented or really goal oriented in any way. I mostly just ran to burn calories. When I was younger I did play soccer where I did a lot of fast running. I have always been very quick and therefore, I actually had trouble pacing myself in training because I would just take off at the beginning of a run and be burnt out after a couple miles.
I figure the best info I can give you is my top running & training tips, what worked for me, and what I will change next time around.
Running Rules I now live by:
Run with a heart rate monitor - Getting my Polar HRM seriously changed my life! At least my running life that is. Being able to monitor your heart rate helps you keep a steady pace, increasing your endurance. I learned I was running way too fast and my heart rate was in the high 180′s — much too high for distance running! I found out mine should be around 150-170. Mine was around 165-175 during my half marathon — topping out at 195 in the last mile when I sprinted. For a simple chart to find out what your heart rate should be, click here!
Train hard, rest often - I was notorious for exhausting my body. I used to work out 6 – 7 days a week — all high intensity cardio and on some days, weights. My body would be so exhausted that in the end, I wasn’t working out, I was damaging my body. You have to take days of rest. I don’t mean to sit on the couch and veg, but if you do a 6 mile run on Monday, do yoga or take a brisk walk on Tuesday. If you are doing long runs, limit them to once or twice a week, and spread them out.
STRETCH and foam roll - This is sooo important. I know you’ve heard this before, but take the time to stretch about 10 minutes into your warm up and after. I also found that stretching while watching TV before bed was really beneficial for me — to relieve soreness and also for relaxation. I also foam roll before a workout and at night. It helps loosen muscles and doubles as a massage! I got my foam roll at TJMaxx for 12 bucks — not expensive and completely worth it!
Eat before you work out - It’s crucial to have something in your system to power your workouts, especially for long runs. I never used to eat before a workout, and I would be famished and exhausted during and afterward — but I didn’t want to take in the extra calories. Truth be told, you’re more efficient when you’re body has something to run on. The best things to eat before a workout are complex carbs and protein — an apple or a slice of whole wheat toast with a little natural peanut butter and sliced banana, a protein bar with 100-200 calories and at least 10g protein, or a hard-boiled egg and a banana — a few almonds and a banana or apple would be a good choice too. Nothing too heavy, and make sure you eat at least 30 minutes to an hour before you workout.
In the mornings, I don’t have the time to wait 30 min, so I cut Quest bars in half and go. It’s great protein and sits well with me during a workout. PS — Quest bars are the BEST tasting protein bar I have ever come across. They even have an all natural line. The Cinnamon Roll flavor is aa-ma-zing! Bottom line, to have energy to run, you’re body must be fueled.
Strength training is a MUST — Some people think that all you need is cardio. I used to be one of those people. But not only does weight lifting and strength training beautifully tone your body, it also strengthens it to improve your runs. New workout trends like cross fit is a great option. I also enjoy cardio kickboxing and bar classes like Cardio Barre. I also recently discovered Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up! They have amazing, free workout videos that are quick and effective. Try it out! Some of my favorite videos so far are Sunkissed Abs and Malibooty, but they are all awesome so check them out!
Okay lastly, I have began to go all natural and clean, at least 80-90% of the time, and I have been feeling much better. While I do eat healthy and try to base my diet on lean proteins and fruits and veggies, I still used Splenda and ate other processed foods that weren’t great and I started to feel like my stomach was stuffed with cotton balls. I just want to rid my body of toxins and want to start eating cleaner. More clean recipes to come!
That’s all I have for now. Thanks for reading.