Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tips for Suriving a Half-Marathon!

Mary Ann, myself, Jamie, Taylor, and Nicole before the race!
This past Saturday, I ran in the 17th Annual Indianapolis Half Marathon with some of my friends from Bob Roncker's running group.  It was a fantastic race and I would recommend it to anyone!  The race was extremely well organized, the course was beautiful- we ran through Ft. Harrison state park and the autumn foliage was gorgeous- and the race volunteers were extremely friendly and encouraging. After over 5 months of training, it was great to be able to have the accomplishment of finishing a half-marathon with a personal record time of 2:16.25.

I know that some of you may be signed up for a half-marathon or interested in running one in the future, so I thought I would share some of my and my running friends' favorite tips on how to survive a half-marathon.

Pre- Race:

  • Eat and drink properly the week before the race, not just the night before:  Everyone has heard about carb loading the night before the race, but it is important to eat extra carbs and drink extra water in the days leading up to the race to get your body prepared.
  • Get prepared the night before:  Lay out all of your race gear and make sure you have everything.  I usually go ahead and put my timing chip on my shoe and pin my race bib to my shirt or belt, just so it is one less thing I have to worry about. Also, it might not be a bad idea to set two alarms just in case!
  • Glide is your friend:  To prevent chafing, Glide is awesome! It looks like a roll of deodorant and you can use it on your feet, legs, sports bra area, arms, etc… And according to my friend Ann, if chafing does occur, use Caramex!
  • Dress for the run, not for the pre-race waiting period.  The absolute worst part of a race is getting there early and waiting for the actual race to start, especially when it is cold. Even though it is tempting to put on extra layers in the chilly morning, you should always dress as if the temperature is 20 degrees hotter than it is, because once you start running you will warm up fast. 
  • Look at the course ahead of time: You do not need to memorize the course, but you should have an idea of what the elevation looks like – if you know there are a few hills at the end you may want to save some of your energy or not kick into gear as quickly.  
During the Run:
After the race- we survived!
  • Pacing: Of all the tips, I think pacing yourself during a half-marathon is the most important. It is critical not to start out too fast! It is really easy to do, because you have pre-race adrenaline and also you are running with a bunch of other runners and it is easy to get caught up in matching their pace.  And trust me, while you may be able to match the pace of a 6 minute runner for a few hundred feet, you will never survive the entire race that way! If you don’t have a group to run with, or a running watch to pace yourself by, look for a pacer at the start of your race so you can achieve your race time goal and run a steady pace!  
  •  Drink water at water stops- especially in the beginning it is tempting to skip the water stops because you might not feel thirsty.  However, remember you have 13.1 miles to run, your body is going to need the hydration- you do not need to gulp down tons of water, but at least get a quick sip.
  • GU’s/Energy Supplements: There are a ton of different energy supplements out there which you can take during the race to replace your depleted glycogen supplies during an endurance run.   During a half marathon,  I usually take a Gu around mile 5 and around mile 10.  I like the Vanilla Bean flavored Gu’s, but some of the other energy supplements that my running friends and I like are Stinger Organic Chews and Clif’s shot bloks.
  • Run with your friends: Seriously, joining a running group or committing to run a race with a friend (s) can make all of the difference in the world.  The miles fly by when you have friends to talk with or to encourage one another.  Also, it makes pre-and post race more fun!
  • Push through mental blocks:  Running for over 2 hours is a really long time- and many times your mind will give out before your body does.  When the little voice inside your head starts to tell you that you cannot finish or that you need to walk- IGNORE IT! Do whatever you need to do to silence that voice!  More than anything remind yourself that you have trained for this, you are ready for this, and your body can do this.  
  • The last mile (or even tenth of a mile): In every race that I have run, this last mile has always been the worst. This is the time when I really have to push myself and I start measuring the distance left it in terms of tenths of miles. This is the time where you just have to push yourself as hard as you can, knowing it will be over soon!  
-After the Run: 
Finished with a personal best time!
  •  Celebrate: This is a huge accomplishment! Savor the moment and wear your medal proudly!
  •  Ice Baths: This suggestion comes entirely from Nicole, because I have not been brave enough to try it- after a race all I want is a hot shower! However, Nicole swears by ice baths after a race to reduce any pain or soreness!
  • Stretching/Foam rolling: Stretching and using a foam roller can also help prevent aches and injuries and get you ready to start training for the next race!

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