This is the season when most of us resolve to live healthier by setting our sights on at least one fitness goal.
If completing a half marathon is on your list, I wouldn’t be surprised. Over 1.9 million Americans completed a half marathon in 2016, and the event has been the fastest growing road race in the nation since 2000.
I can’t tell you why this growth is happening, but I think the half marathon is achievable for the novice runner and challenging for the experienced runner. Yes, even if you’re new to running, you CAN complete a half marathon! How enjoyable your experience is depends on how you prepare. I’m here to encourage you to chase after your half marathon goals, and to offer a few tips that you’ll want to keep in mind as you get started. We’re going to talk about your goals, your gear and your head game.
GOALS—Set your sights on a particular race. Mid-to-late spring is a popular time of year for half marathons, and there are several to choose from. Once you’ve selected your race, determine your specific goals for it. Do you want to finish in a particular time or simply finish? Do you hope to run the whole thing, or are you OK with a run/walk approach? Your goals for the race will dictate how you train for it. Realistically, you will need 8-12 weeks to prepare. If you can run 30 minutes consecutively at the beginning of those 8-12 weeks, you’re ready for a run-only training approach. If you aren’t quite there with consecutive running, you can be successful with a run/walk approach, such as running for 1-3 minutes and then walking for 1-3 minutes.
GEAR—Once you’ve set your goals, get your gear. Running is one of the most affordable sports, but you cannot skimp on the key things. First, all shoes are not created equal, and every runner’s needs are unique. Visit a running or multi-sport specialty store and ask for a professional fitting. Keep in mind that shoes expire. Even if you’ve found the “right pair,” they’ll need to be replaced if you’ve been jogging/walking in them for three seasons.
Also, be mindful of weather, safety and nutrition. If it’s cold, dress in wicking layers and cover your head and fingers. If it’s dark, wear lights or reflective gear. Carry personal ID in case of emergency. If you’re out for more than an hour, you need to carry nutrition and plan to take in 6-8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes.
HEAD GAME—Your mental approach is important. Make the event real for you. Say it out loud to other people. Sign up and pay for the event. Next, summon your mental stamina. Your training will consist of early morning alarms, inconvenient dates with the treadmill, days when the weather doesn’t cooperate and days when your body doesn’t feel its strongest. But, there will also be days of victory, when you feel yourself making amazing gains and you experience the benefits of making healthy choices and taking responsibility for your fitness. Keep a positive mindset and celebrate the strong days. This will give you the stamina to push through the not-so-strong days.
Now, it’s time to take action. Pick your race–and if you want more information about personal training, contact the Prisma Health Life Center.
Kendra Rorabaugh is a certified personal trainer and group fitness supervisor with the Prisma Health Life Center.