What I’ve Learned From my First 1/2 Marathon

A few months back a good friend of mine sent me a text and asked if I wanted to run a race with her. Without question I automatically responded with a “Sure!”. I like being active, so I figured why not. I was also drinking margaritas at the time of text so that may have effected my decision making skills. Little did I know the race invite I just accepted was a half marathon taking place early the next morning in Central Park. My friend selfishly convinced me (LOVE YOU Ash) that I would do great because she didn’t train much and she believed that the recent kickboxing classes we were going to was training enough (rightttttt).

Running a half marathon has been on my new years resolution list for the longest time. I just never got around to doing it. Probably because of the love/hate relationship I have with running. Or maybe it was because I didn’t feel like taking the time to train. Either way I always had an excuse for why I couldn’t run one. It might have been the margarita talking but I decided I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I fully committed to waking up at 4am, trekked my way to beautiful Central Park and ran my first half marathon (without training) and did pretty well. Obviously my first race was full of rookie mistakes, but if I had the chance to do it all over again I would. I plan on running another half this year and here are a few things I’ve learned from my first experience that I am going to make sure I do this time around…

1. Train: (Duh). Surprisingly I never felt out of breath. Butttttt at around mile 8 my muscles and joints weren’t very happy with me. Let’s just say that I couldn’t walk correctly for about a week. And the day after I could barely move. Lesson learned…training is of upmost importance.

2. Fuel Up: Obviously proper nutrition and hydration is important to get your body through a long distance race. Any time you plan on running for more than an hour your body needs carbohydrates. I stocked up on whole wheat pasta the night before and ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich with an apple about 30 minutes before the race started. If you don’t fuel your body with proper nutrients you are more likely to hit a wall and your body will shut down faster.

3. Get there early enough to get to the bathroom: We got there about 25 minutes before race time and spent the entire 25 minutes on the line for the porter potty. We almost missed our start time. We may not have been the fastest runners but I’d say we won the gold metal in peeing the fastest.

4. Warm up: Since we had to wait on the bathroom line for so long the only warm up I had was my .5 mile walk from the hotel to Central Park. I was frantically doing static stretches seconds before the race started (which I know basically did nothing for my muscles). Definitely plan some time to fit in some dynamic stretches beforehand. A proper warm up can decrease the chance of injury.

5. Wear comfortable clothes & supportive running sneakers: This is one tip I got half right. I checked the weather the morning of the race and dressed accordingly. My outfit was on point, comfortable and functional. But my sneakers however were so worn. I was still dealing with the pain due to lack of support 10 days post race. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable when running long distances. Do yourself a favor, every 300-500 miles invest in some new kicks.

6. Have an upbeat playlist: Some people don’t like running with headphones but for me music is key. It kept me motivated the whole race and it kept my pace up when my legs were begging me to slow down.

7. Appreciate the supporters watching or volunteering to help out at the race: One of the most exciting parts of running races is the motivation you get from the people who are cheering you on! Go out of your way to high five the little kids that have their hands out, smile and wave at the people cheering you on and laugh at the funny signs they are holding. A few of my favorites said, “Ryan (Gosling) is at the finish line” and “Run now, Wine later”. Also remember to thank volunteers who are handing you water and making sure you are running in the right direction. They are taking the time to help you!

7. Rest, Ice and Rehydrate: After the race was finished I felt a great sense of accomplishment as they placed the finisher metal around my neck. I also felt extremely nauseous. Every joint, muscle and ligament in my body was instantly sore and throbbing in pain. Ice was my BFF for the next week. Take care of your body. Hop in an ice bath, and drink lots of water to help rehydrate your body!    

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Happy Running,

M

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