Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yes, You Can!

If that little voice in your head is telling you that you can’t. If you see someone’s race finisher photo and say ‘I could never run a half or full marathon I envy you.’ Stop saying that. You have more power in you than you realize! All of us marathoners were once beginners…which made us nervous, anxious, scared, and excited. At least those were some of the emotions that I felt when I decided to take on my very first half marathon with no prior running experience. I have been asked by many folks about how to start training for a half marathon. Is it hard? Will it hurt? What can I do to prevent injury? My answers are simple, yes it is hard work and dedication is required, you bet it’s going to hurt but you will soon learn to love the pain, and listen to your body. If you want to set a goal to run a 5K or even a half marathon, allow me to share some of my lessons learned that may help you in  your journey.
Pick a race/distance you honestly feel you can complete! If you are a novice runner looking to get in shape and set a personal goal, then a 5K maybe right up your alley. It’s only 3.1 miles and is generally a good starting distance. If you want a bit of a challenge, choose a half marathon. For your first time out, I suggest finding a course that has a flat elevation for the majority. Both of these races will require you to train and there are plenty of training plans available online. Runner’s World and Jeff Galloway are great resources. Find a plan that works for you. I also found that registering the race and paying the entry fee will drive me to train and make sure I am ready. No one wants to waste money, especially in THIS economy.
Dedication is Key! Your training will either lead you down the path of success or be your demise. As I mentioned earlier, find or create a training plan that works best for your skill level and ability and stick to it! There will be days where you do not want to go out and run or cross-train but you have to tell that voice in your mind to hush and let you drive. Every work out you do is critical to your success. Remember races are surrounded around endurance. You’ll need all the endurance you can muster, especially if this is your first time out of the gate. Even with as many races as I do, I have to push myself to do my maintenance runs…trust me I feel your pain.
Dont Over-Do It! I find that most new runners get caught in the excitement of training and seeing results and may sometimes push their bodies beyond it’s limits. If you feel you can go farther, do it gently. Do not throw your body into high mileage or faster paces if it isn’t ready. You’ll risk injury and recovery is no fun for anyone.
Stay Encouraged! Before a training run, have your own mantra or envision your goal at the finish line. Motivation is key. Your friends or family can be this motivation, running for a cause such as cancer research can motivate you, how about your health or wanting to loose weight, or even the image of the event finisher medal can be enough motivation for some…and there are some pretty bad ass medals out there let me tell you! Find a support group of runners on Facebook,Twitter, or in your local area running club. No one ever finished a run alone. There is always something driving you to the finish…find what that is for you and keep it in mind.
Have FUN! Your runs should be as enjoyable as possible. Although, we are human and we have bad days. Use those bad days and that negative energy and turn it into fuel for your race. You should enjoy your runs. Make a playful game out of your training. Can I go farther today? I’m feeling pretty good today, can I increase my overall pace? Nike+ and RunKeeper have great tools that can help with this.
I hope this entry will help silence that voice of doubt in your mind if you are considering running a race of any distance. And hey, if you aren’t wanting to race and just want to run as a form of exercise, then I hope this helps as well. Running for me is more than a hobby…it’s become a lifestyle. Running has given me so much confidence, strength, endurance, pride, and comfort I don’t know how I can ever repay it…yes I do. I can encourage you and pay it forward. Go get your blessing…and if you ever need encouragement, just give a little whistle.