Goal #134: Run a Half Marathon
I am very much a Type A personality. I like lists, I like structure, and most of all I like to be prepared. However, with the recent passing of my dad, I've had to adjust my mindset a bit ... sometimes you don't always have the chance to plan, sometimes you have to live in the moment and jump head first into things without being prepared for it. SO, I had the bright idea of signing up for a half marathon just short of two weeks before the date ... crazy, I know.
I originally had planned on running the Scotiabank Half in October, but plans came up that I couldn't miss, but I also didn't want to miss out on my chance to finally complete a half marathon - something that has been on my goals list for 2+ years. I threw a search into Google of "half marathons in the GTA" and conveniently the Nutrience Oakville Half Marathon popped up, and without batting an eye I signed up.
Hopefully you know by now that I like making my blog posts informative, so I thought I'd share how I prepped last minute for this half marathon - my training, pre-race fuel, race day necessities, self-talk during, and my post-race recovery.
I would consider myself a frequent runner, I generally incorporate a variety of interval training sequences and distance runs into my weekly training regime, but nothing over 10km. After chatting with some of resources it seems that training for longer-distance races looks different for everyone, but a great place to start is to incorporate longer, easy-pace runs with shorter, faster-pace runs during your weekly schedule.
For example, running 12-14km at a sloooooow and easy pace one day, then completing a track workout with 800m intervals at race-pace with recovery between sets. Similar to when I program for athletes, as the volume increases (generally) the intensity decreases and as the volume decreases, the intensity can increase.
The same thing I tell my athletes about pre-game nutrition holds true to pre-race nutrition. Although getting a hearty source of carbohydrates is VERY important to filling your body's gas tank (energy stores), it's also important to incorporate a high quality source of healthy fats, as your body will go to those after a certain period of time. And we can't forget about protein too! A general rule of thumb for figuring out what to eat pre-race is ...
Find something that sits well in your stomach and doesn't cause any discomfort
Ensure you're getting your fuel from high quality foods
Ensure you're eating enough 24-48 hours prior to your race
Test out your meal before a long run during your training to see how it affects your body
My pre-race meal of choice: steamed & mashed sweet potatoes + all natural peanut butter + banana + cinnamon + sea salt (don't knock it till ya try it).
SHOUT-OUT to Erin Baun for the suggestion!
Every athlete knows the saying "look good, feel good, play good" well race day is no different! Make sure you're wearing something comfortable and suitable for the weather - the last thing you want to worry about is your shorts giving you a wedgy or your sock slipping off your foot. Other things I thought were important ... picking up my race kit a day before the race, going to the bathroom before take-off, warming up, and having an epic playlist ready to take me through the whole run (thank God for Spotify).
Running for upwards to two hours is a MENTAL GRIND - there is really no easy way to put it. I'll let you have a peak inside what went on in my head during the race ...
"okay, that was so quick, this is going to go by so fast"
"I am feeling GOOOOOOD today"
"boom, first 5km is done - that's probably the hardest part right?"
"okay 10 km done, wahoo! no more single-digit signs, all down hill from here!"
*sees brother and boyfriend*
"I'm right behind the 1:50 pacer, they probably think I'm fast now"
"we're laughing now, less than 10 km to go!"
*the most challenging part for me*
"okay, I have 5km left, that's like half of the 10km race"
"wow Alena, you've never actually ran this far in your life before, are you sure this was a good idea?"
"I wonder how many donuts are acceptable to eat after this"
"maybe I should slow down a little bit ..." *someone passes me* "NOPE" *sprints forward to get ahead*
"how many laps around a track do I have left?"
"I kind of need to go to the bathroom"
"I wonder if there's more water stations"
"oh look! a butterfly (my dad)"
"I think my body is shutting down, but I'm not entirely sure ..."
"ugh, I can't be THAT girl that starts walking with 1km left."
"why the f**k did I decide to do this ..."
"okay I'm almost done and then I get to eat vegan donuts the rest of the day"
This is going to be real straight forward ...
FOOD - I chose to refill my tank with vegan soft serve ice cream and donuts (shout-out to Kelly's Bake Shoppe) but in all seriousness, it's super important to replenish all the nutrients and fuel you lost throughout the race - SHOUT-OUT to Doreen "D-Block" Bonsu for the suggestion!
HYDRATE - both water and electrolytes!
REST- I spent the afternoon in bed watching Netflix
STRETCH - Take time to stretch, roll out and alleviate some tension in your muscles. You can also try out a couple yoga classes in the days to follow to help.
EPSOM SALT BATH - hot water and 1-2 cups of epsom salt to ease sore muscles and help your body recover
MAGNESIUM - huge for muscle recovery and relaxation
Honestly, the best thing I did was reach out to my Instagram community and ask for advice - that's pretty much how I managed to piece it all together. Use your resources, talk to people that have been through, and try things for yourself - what worked for one person may not necessarily work the same for you. You better believe I'll be running another half marathon within the next year but one I will most definitely be a little more prepared for ...
That one was for you, Pops!