Work them hips, run girl! Take your health in your hands and use those feet in the streets. Whether you hit the trails or the treadmill, the benefits of running will do your body good. But once you train to run a distance race, you’ll see there’s much more to running than just exercise.
In middle school, I ran track. I wasn’t a sprinter, but more of an endurance runner, and in sixth grade, that meant running the mile. There was bit of speed in my stride, and when others could no longer continue, a boost of energy kicked in for me.
Sadly, this was my only official relationship with running…until now. I recently ran 13.1 miles in the US Half Marathon in San Francisco, and even though it was a journey up and down hills in the pouring rain, I would do it all over again. Running, I’m happy you’re back in my life.
Between the many years since high school to my ripe age of 28, I’ve probably ran 10 miles…total. From full-court basketball to chasing a departing train, running just seemed like a drag to me. Never did I think of training to run a race. I loathed the treadmill, and in the times I tried to run, I was breathless after only a few minutes. Running just one mile seemed like forever.
Then, last year right after my 28th birthday, a car accident changed everything. The pain in my back made it difficult to walk at times, but when I tried to run, it was impossible. The shock and pressure on my back was unbearable, and the one thought that continually crossed my mind was, “Will I ever be able to run again?”
After numerous chiropractic appointments, massage sessions, and hours of stretching, I started to feel normal again. I continued with Zumba, but I still couldn’t shake that I could have been hurt so bad that running would not be an option for me. It was then I decided that I wanted to go the distance and run a race.
My first taste of a race was San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers, and quite frankly, it didn’t count. However, it was a fun experience and had me thinking that if I want to run, I need to get serious about it.
When you want something to happen, it happens all around you, and I noticed that friends and other people also started to challenge themselves with running, including M.I.S.S.’s very own Trina. Even my Twitter feed from Fruition‘s first lady Samantha Jo Alonso mentioned encouraging messages about marathons.
If that all wasn’t a sign enough, I randomly checked my Groupon app for the first time, and I saw a 50% off deal for registration for the US Half. At that point, I had no excuse with a deal like that; it was a bargain that couldn’t be passed up. I bought the Groupon and started training.
You can’t just go from zero to 13.1 miles overnight, so I sought advice from numerous running veterans to help and encourage me along the way. If you’re considering registering for a run, take these tips with you:
Set a reasonable training schedule. You will literally need to look at your calendar and plan out your weeks from the date of registration to the run. This seemed like a challenge for me with an already booked schedule, but when you have a goal in mind, you want to accomplish it! Luckily, Daylight Savings didn’t kick in yet, so I had just over an hour after work to squeeze in a run. I figured twice a week would be manageable and give me enough experience to finish the race!
Skip the treadmill and hit the turf. I’ll say it again: I loathe the treadmill. It’s boring and the line at the gym is always ridiculous. I live by the bay, so sunset runs were the perfect motivation to get out and breathe in the fresh air. Plus, the marathon is held on city streets and windy trails, so in training, I need to expose myself to those elements. Treadmills can be great to train on for adverse weather, but don’t let that be your usual form of running experience.
Start off slow and build it up. For my first marathon, I was only concerned with finishing, and not with the finish time. As long as the distance was down, then that’s all that mattered to me! At first, 3 miles wore me out. I doubted myself and questioned if I had what it takes to even finish the Half. How could I go 10 more miles? But after a few days of running, my stamina increased. 4 miles seemed like nothing, and if the sun didn’t set, I could go on for 2 more! I maxed out at 5 miles during training, with hopes that the rest of the run would come easy.
Wear the right kicks. During the first few weeks of training, I ran in my 12-year-old Nike ’95 Air Max’s. The shoes were never used for a run, more for light workouts. Friends advised me to go a running specialty store and pick up a pair of shoes that work with my feet and my stride. This shoe shopping experience was unlike any other. My feet were analyzed by pressure points and arch, and then I was video-taped running on a treadmill to see what support my feet would need during a run. A pair of Asics went home with me, and wow, could I tell the difference! From then on, to break in the shoes, I wore them everywhere, including on the weekly runs.
Stretch it out. I’m usually known as “Stiff Tiff” because I’m not flexible. I can’t even touch my toes. But since my body was signed up for running 13.1 miles, I had to make sure it was flexible enough to endure hills and the terrain of the track. I summoned my massage therapist and personal trainer friends to help me stretch properly. Many of the stretches focused on the legs, of course, but stretching out my whole body made me feel like a brand new person, about to embark on a brand new journey. At times I was stretching beyond my limit, but it helped me to actually become a tad more flexible. Stiff Tiff is loosening up!
Wondering how it went during the race? Keep posted here for more tips on what to do the day of the big run!
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- M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: My First Taste of a Race
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