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Take it and Run Thursday: Half Marathon

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Half Marathon….oh how I love thee…let me count the ways.  Seriously though, half marathon is my favorite race distance and I have tried just about them all…5K, 6K, 5 mi, 7 mi, 15K, and full (surprisingly no 10K yet).  The one I have enjoyed training for and running the most has been the half.  In fact if you recall from my post about Motivation last week I am scheduled for 7 races in the next year…3 of them are half marathons and I am contemplating adding another.  So why the half marathon?

  1. It a good challenge.  One of the reasons I love running is that I can constantly challenge myself and the half marathon is one of those challenges.  My goal for this year in fact is to try to improve my half marathon time and hopefully set a new PR.  Being a half marathon I feel like this a goal I can constantly work towards instead of having to set aside a certain amount of weeks for training.  Bring it on! 
  2. It is long enough be to called a “marathon” without getting dirty looks from other runners.  Many people don’t know the true distance of a marathon.  I have heard people new to the sport say they ran a marathon and you find out they ran a 5K race.  In fact last week I was watching a news story about a little boy who is a double amputtee and they kept saying he ran a “marathon”.  Their idea of a marathon appeared to be a 1 mile race.  While that is fantastic for that little boy and I can view him as VERY motivating he didn’t run a “marathon”.  Needless to say I scoffed a little at the misrepresentation of the news media on that one.  I would have been equally impressed at this little boy’s ability to run a 1 mile race without the let down of finding out it was a 1 mile race.
  3. You can run your long run without sacrificing your entire Sunday.  That was one thing that made it hard for me to get my long runs in for my full marathon training.  I had to sacrifice around 4 hours on the road along with 1 hour of prep time and a couple hours of recovery time.  For a half marathon I only need 2 hours on the weekend for my run and maybe the hour of prep time, but it doesn’t take me several hours to recover from my run.  In fact I can fit a 10 mile run in after work and before bed and don’t even have to wait for the weekend to come if I don’t want to.
  4. It’s all about the bling!  Yes, I will admit it, part of the reason I love halves is that it is long enough for you to get a medal.  I loves me my medals.  In fact if I am looking at a half and it doesn’t say I get a finisher medal then I stop looking at it, lol.  Hey, at least I am honest. 
  5. It is a very friendly distance.  Not that 13.1 miles is not a hard distance to run, but the people that run it are awesome!  They tend to be people that have been running for a little while and have run a few other races before so they have good road ettiquette.  Most of them are very easy to talk to and are more than willing to strike up a conversation to help pass the time whether you are waiting for the start or making your way to the finish. 
  6. My parents don’t have to wait too long for me to get to the finish.  I felt bad for them at my full marathon because they had to drop me off at the start at 4:30 for a race that didn’t start till 6 and then it took me 7 hours to finish.   Talk about a long day!  At least with the half they only have to wait for between 2 and a half or 3 hours before I get to the finish.   

I could keep going and going, but I think you get the idea.  I loves the Half Marathon and I am not shy to tell people I do!  😉 

Read more on half marathons from other Take it and Run Participants.

Take it and Run Thursday: Motivation

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Ahh motivation. That one thing I either have in excess or don’t have at all. Sometimes I feel like the Energizer Bunny and at another times…well I feel like like Homer Simpson. If only I could find that happy medium. That place where I have the energy to get out the door and not start out so fast that I fizzle before I hit my running goal. But I digress…
To help me keep moving forward I use goals. The best type of goal to me is to have another race scheduled. In fact, at this time I am already registered for 7 races reaching all the way into January of 2009. So maybe that is a little excessive, but it is what works for me. Knowing that next race is just weeks away, or in the case of right now days (I have a 5K on Sunday) is usually enough motivation to get me out the door.
Of course there are days when thinking of my next goal isn’t enough to get my shoes on my feet and my hat on my head. That is when I tell myself just 1 mile. If after the 1 mile I still am not in the mood for my run then I allow myself to come home and get on with my day. I think I can count on one hand how many times I have made it through that mile and actually stopped. Of course sometimes getting out is not the problem, it is getting to the end that is.

There are a couple different tricks of the trade to keep myself moving while I am out. Often trying to remember my goal for that training running can get me to the end. That goal could be to run at a tempo pace, achieve negative splits or reach a new distance goal. If I concentrate on the challenge of reaching that goal it can keep my mind from wandering to the desire to stop my run short. There are days however that can prove to be even too challenging for that. For those days I have other little tricks up my sleeve.

Some days the next mile just seems too far. I know when I get that feeling it won’t last through my whole run. I just need to get myself to the place where I stop worrying about how far I have to go. I instead concentrate on the 10 feet in front of me. Those 10 feet are all that matter. When I get past those 10 feet I then look to the next 10 feet. Eventually I forget the dread I was feeling when looking at the bigger picture and start to relax and enjoy my time with the road.

Another technique is to count your steps. Might seem a little boring, but I have used this technique when I have run out of things to process. No more work problems to sift through or bills to worry about. This is when it is just me and the road and I have nothing left to think about. This doesn’t happen often.

You have to try different techniques to find out what motivates you. In the end it doesn’t matter whether it is a carrot at the end of the stick or a chocolate éclair. If you find something that keeps you heading out the door and down the road then you are ahead of the game.

Read more on motivation from other Take it and Run Participants.

Take it and Run Thursday: The Basics of Running

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

A couple weeks ago Tom over at runnerslounge.com came up with an idea he called Take it and Run Thursday. He will throw out a topic and everyone that reads his blog and wants to participate can write on the topic and link it back to his blog. It sounds like a cool idea, so I decided to join in on the fun. The topic for this week: “The Basics of Running.”

I’ve decided to approach the topic as if I were talking to someone that was contemplating taking up running. Here goes nothin’!

  1. Shoes Talk to any runner about taking up the sport and the first thing they will probably tell you is to get the right shoes. That doesn’t mean going to your local Athlete’s Foot and grabbing a pair of “Running” shoes that you find attractive. This means going to a local running store and having a professional fit you for your proper shoe. I wasn’t happy when my first pair of shoes turned out to be pink, but I can tell you that my joints loved those pink shoes. They really can mean the difference between finishing your race and ending up with an injury.
  2. Start Slowly Most babies had to crawl before they walked, and likewise you should walk before you run. If you are starting up a running program and haven’t been physically active in some way then you should start walking before you start running. Once you get yourself up to about 20-30 minutes of walking then look into a beginning running program that slowly increases the amount of time you are running. I personally used the Couch to 5K program program. It starts you out running intervals that progressively get longer and longer.
  3. Body Glide is My Friend Something I never leave the house without when I am running is Body Glide. It is a lubricant for athletes that prevents chaffing from the clothes you are wearing. There are many runs I would have never completed if I hadn’t had this beautiful little product.
  4. Cotton Can Be the Enemy Cotton has a tendency to absorb sweat and hold onto it like there is no tomorrow. If you find that moisture in your clothes is a problem you should look into purchasing some moisture wicking shirts, shorts and undergarments. I am a sweater! Cotton just does not work for me for any distances over 3 miles. As I have been running more I have found that I just prefer the lighter feel of moisture wicking fabric while I am running. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be hot out for you to sweat your way through your clothes. I find that when the weather is cold I need that extra protection of the moisture wicking action even more to help me keep my body temperature up.
  5. Safety Safety comes in many forms. During the winter months I spend a lot of time running in the dark. To help keep myself safe I wear a reflective vest, hat, and pants to make sure that traffic can see me. I also carry some pepper spray when I run. Not only is this to help protect me from other people that might be out there but also from animals that may approach me while I am on the run.
  6. Listen to Your Body Overtraining can be a real problem for runners that are just starting out. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you are feeling tired or irritable it might be an indication that you need to take it easy until your body has a chance to recover from the training you are doing. Pushing yourself too hard can make you sick or cause an overuse injury that can put you on the sidelines permenantly if ignored. If something hurts talk to your doctor to help ensure that you will reach your goals safely.

These are the basic guidelines that I follow to make sure that I can continue with this sport that I have grown to love.

Read more on the Basics of Running from other Take it and Run Participants.