• Anna

What I Learned After Finishing my First Half Marathon

Let me start off by saying I wasn't always a "runner". I don't particularly love running when I first get going (does anybody?) (Does anybody else ask yourself "why am I doing this?" for first couple miles?). Being comfortable running didn't come easy to me. Sprinting is my forte. From being a mid fielder in soccer and jogging and sprinting in bursts to an attack position in women's lacrosse I knew I could beat nearly anybody on the field without much effort, but running long distances? Ooph - it's a challenge. I'm perfectly comfortable cranking out 3-6 miles. after that it's a complete mental and preparation game.

A couple of weekends ago I participated in my first official half marathon. While I've done half marathons distance wise via hiking, or running by myself it's always been on trail with a great deal of elevation gain and an equivalent, downhill back home. Which brings me to another point. I am not a road runner. I like the soft, squishy, unpredictability of trails.

The Eugene Half Marathon 2018 marks my very first official half marathon - and I LOVED it. However, I learned a few things from this half.

1.) Treat my body better, earlier.

I don't think a huge change in diet is necessary. However, next time I plan to cut out sugar a little bit earlier and be stricter on alcohol intake. Fuel up on protein, and carb up the 24 hours before. I learned that you can run a lot farther and faster when you omit alcohol completely.

2.) You can over hydrate.

I waited to hydrate until... mmm 24 hours before the half marathon. Which, yes, on one hand it takes about 24 hours for your body to fully reap the benefits of drinking water - that doesn't mean you should save ALL of your hydration until the day before. This caused a need to pee roughly every half hour of my run, likely adding 10 total minutes onto my time.

3.) Wear Pants.

I normally wear shorts on my shorter runs - up to about 6 miles and I didn't think anything of it on the day of the half marathon - but if have muscular legs or are on the curvy side and are about to run 13 miles or more, wear pants. You'll thank me later.

4.) Fix your body.

I have a shoe problem - not just any shoes ( I could care less about my daily work shoes and formal shoes) I have a running shoe problem. I love them. Somewhere along the line I started to believe the 100 miles per shoe rule, or the trail shoes vs road shoes vs cross training shoes... and I'm sure there is some truth to it all. But ultimately you need to fix your body first, and then the appropriate shoes can help with that. I have achy knees - that's probably not because of my shoes, it's because I need to stretch my quads and hamstrings more. I also have a sore back a lot of the time. That's not because of my running shoes, it's because I sit at a desk all day and neglect to once again, stretch my hamstrings. I have tingly feelings in the bottom of my feet - it's not because of my shoes, it's because I don't massage my arches and ice after runs like I'm supposed to.

I also learned that this can be a fairly expensive sport if you play it the "need-the-best-gear" way. So I'm learning to fix my body first, deal with the potential need for new gear later. After all, people run these tings barefoot.

5.) Run.

This sounds like a "no duh, Anna" lesson to learn- but nonetheless it's one that I learned anyway. I'm a pretty athletic person. Give me a sport and I'll play, tell me to run, I'll run. Weight training, I'm all over it. BUT The months leading up to the half marathon I was putting all of my effort into weight training because it was kinda gross out weather-wise - ya know, #pnw. I was lifting heavy and feeling extra strong which was awesome - until my legs feel like heavy led pillars when I was trying to pick them up one after another repetitively for 13.1 miles.

Running makes lean, light muscle. Next time I plan to run two 5k's a week with one longer run on the weekends, adding 2 miles to my longer run each week and continue weight training, but with less weight and higher reps.

It's my goal to do three half marathons this year. If you have lessons that you've learned running - shoot me a message or comment. Accepting all advice :)