Wednesday, March 23, 2011

lessons i'm learning from running

 As some of you might know, I am training for my first half marathon, to be ran on my 29th birthday! woot woot! I'm only up to mile 7 on my long runs, so I've got a way to go until I can cross this half marathon thing off my bucket list. It's nothing to brag about yet... so here's what I've learned so far.

*If you're signing up for an event, register early- it motivates you to train and will probably save you money. I signed up online, and googled my event before checkout. I actually found a $5 dollar coupon code. sweet! So remember to look for a coupon.

*Map out a training schedule. See Runners World and Hal Higdon for good resources.

*Pick a day for your long runs (mine is Saturday). If you can, find a friend to run with and go early to get it out of the way. We went at 6:15 last weekend and it was awesome. If you're already committed to running that day, commit yourself one step further, wake up at the crack of dawn, and get it out of the way so it doesn't cut into family time. I can't go that early every Saturday, but when I can it feels so good.

*I don't have a gps watch, I wish I had a gps watch, but I'm getting by with a regular old sports watch I've had since high school (my first Valentine's gift I ever received Troy)! I know my average mile, and I just time myself when running outside to estimate my total distance.

*Train with Gu, sports beans, etc. That's what i've been told. You don't want to surprise your body come race day throwing the stuff up cuz you weren't used to it.

*Hydrate and eat enough. Be responsible and take care of yourself properly! My husband will not let me go to bed until I've drank at least a whole glass of water.

*Cross train. I've been doing 2 short runs (3-5 miles) a week, and 2 days of strengthening. I've noticed I had to build up the muscles surrounding my knees and elbows (of all places) or else they will get really sore.

*Learn about proper breathing. I read a really good tip from Sheena, a fellow blogger and runner here. (if you're into running, read the whole post, its great)!

*Run in the right shoes. Proper shoes have always been a big deal to my family. When my grandpa (ultra-marathoner and shoe salesman) found out I was running my first half, his first question was, "What kind of shoes are you running in?" Sadly, I was still using the Mizunos he sold me over 5 years ago. But with our tax return, I was able to get a new pair. Another smart money saving tip from Sheena came in really handy for me. I went to my local running store, was properly fitted, and then asked if they had any models from last year. Lucky for me, they did, so I bought brand new running shoes- that fit me properly- at half price. (I'm all about online shopping, but since I need an extra narrow, it's hard to find the exact fit without trying them on first. And many online stores don't ever seem to have the correct sizing for my foot anyway).

*Ask all your running friends for good advice.

*Pamper your feet when you get home. After my shower, I use a few foot tools from target to scrape away the dead skin and blisters. Then I slather on the lotion.

*Don't cut your toenails before a 7 miler. ouch.

*Weaning your baby in the middle of your training is tricky! (tmi? sorry!) I have literally been pregnant/nursing/pregnant/nursing/pregnant/nursing since 2005. It's been awesome, and I wouldn't change a thing for the world, but I really have to say that it is so nice to be reclaiming my body! I feel so freeeeeeeeeeeeee!

*Have your husband or friend make a sweet playlist with some surprise songs to train with.

*Run without headphones once in a while!!! There is a half marathon in the redwoods, and one of the rules is you can't use headphones. Can you imagine taking in the beauty, with soft fern beneath your feet, smelling the delicious trees, listening to nature all around you, really using all of your natural senses. i can't think of a more perfect setting to run a half. My mom grew up there, I've spent many summers there, and miss all my family who lives there. I realllly want to run this one day.
Alisa Knight. Do you read this blog? Can I run this with you someday?

*Who said running has to be all about you? A smart suggestion from a friend that I've been doing with my kids- after my workouts at the gym, I take them to the track and let them run around it 3 or 4 times. Sometimes they race. They LOVE it and it's great exercise for them too. I signed them up to run the kids race on the morning of my half marathon. So now its a family event, and they love "practicing" for their big day.

*Run outside! Until last weekend, I'd been doing all my running at the gym, some on the treadmill, and some on the track. I'll continue my short runs there, but running outside is a whole new experience.

*All things in moderation. Balance out your life. Don't obsess about it. Map out your schedule, eat well, get enough sleep, and keep the other aspects of your life in check. There is a time and season for all things. Be in a spot where you can handle what it takes to go out there and train. I actually went out with the X-Country team in high school a few times, but ultimately gave up. Back then, it just wasn't for me. I was a dancer, really involved with my church, and just didn't have the right mindset and commitment level to run long distances. Running is something I had to "grow into" and now I really look forward to the work, the sweat, the alone time, the ability to set my mind on cruise and just let my legs carry me. I'm thankful I'm able to do this.

*Baby steps. If you're anything like me, you won't be able to go out and run a half without training first. For me it started with a 5k. Then another 5k. Then a 10k. And now I'm ready to tackle 13.1 miles.

*Train like you mean it. Your body is one amazing machine! Even though its hard and sometimes you will want to quit, push yourself and see what it can do!

*Pick a goal and stick with it. 1 mile. 5k. 10k. Any goal. Maybe its 50 sit ups a night. Or to tone your arms. Something to improve your health or quality of life. As soon as I told myself I was going to do this, I haven't looked back. (For years I told myself "I'm not a runner." "I can't run more than 2 miles." But I got so tired of telling myself that. Why not?) So now I'm going for it. For my first, I'm not training for an amazing finish time. I just want to be able to finish. To say I can do it. For me, it's totally a mental thing.

My first race ever! 5k, 2009
My second race ever! another 5k, 2010
My 3rd race! 10k, 2010

Now I'm ready for the next step. 
13.1 or bust!

Anyone else out there have any good advice?


  1. Good for you, I think I already told you that my husband and I did a half marathon last summer. Training and running the race with my husband will always be a fond memory. We used the website To plan our runs. It tells you how far your route it and lots more. Check it out!

  2. My advice: Don't get injured!

    I'm still hoping to be there at the starting line with you! Although you'll probably smoke me since my training has been nonexistent! Go Rach GO!

  3. You will LOVE half marathons...they are the PERFECT length - long enough to work you, but doesn't beat you up like a least that is what I have learned. One thing that I found invaluable is to be sure to replenish your body after long runs (and it needs to be within 30 minutes of the end of the run or it doesn't matter) with a 1/2 cup of grapes of 1/2 pb sandwich...good luck! I cannot believe you have 3 babies!? How old is your baby? I am running a half on April 16th and I will be 21 weeks prego with my 3rd...I am not quite sure what I was thinking, but I don't want to lose my $75! Ha!

  4. How fun! I did my first half last year and am planning two this year. Good job adding on those miles, just remember not to over do it and over train so you avoid injury. (and strengthen those quads and glutes, that's key to helping out your knees) I loved Honey Stingers energy chews during those long runs. Enjoy it and then just run your race!

  5. Hey! Move Avenue of the Giants to a Saturday and I'm in! It's a bummer so many races are on Sundays. But I promised myself I'd never go there. Oddly, my best running happens without the distraction of headphones and gadgets. I'm a huge baby jogger fan because my tots are a part of the process. It strengthens me and teaches them. Remember to stretch. is handy. Look how much you're learning. It's all about discovering what works best for you. Run hard and please keep us posted!

  6. P.S. Don't think too hard about it. Running is mostly a mental game anyway. I'm excited for your progress. Good job and go get 'em!

  7. Alisa, ha i guess i didn't look at the date close enough to realize may 1 is a sunday! i'm totally with you on that rule of thumb. if the sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest, then for me that definitely wouldn't include running a race! it is tricky finding saturday races. i'm so excited that my half is on a saturday, and my b-day as well. we'll have to find a different humboldt race to run one day. thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Congrats! I am a beginning runner myself...maybe one day I will actually run a 5K.

  9. I am so excited for you. I to have been pregnant or nursing since 2005, four girls down and done. Now it's time to focus on mom. I am startig to run again ,my husband is deployed right now. When he returns I will run my first 5K.How excited am I, and scared. Trying to train with four little one's. Can't wait till school starts so the babies and I can run. Stay motivated and stay strong.

  10. I am so excited for you. I to have been pregnant or nursing since 2005, four girls down and done. Now it's time to focus on mom. I am startig to run again ,my husband is deployed right now. When he returns I will run my first 5K.How excited am I, and scared. Trying to train with four little one's. Can't wait till school starts so the babies and I can run. Stay motivated and stay strong.


Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!
♥Rach H