Monday Musings on Running

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I would never classify myself as a runner (and still don’t). I remember saying more than once that I would never run a half marathon. However, in a weak moment this summer, I signed up for the Madison Half Marathon on November 9th. We seem to be at the age when everyone is either running a race, getting married, or having babies, so I guess it wasn’t that odd.

Spoiler Alert – I finished. It hurt. But I finished.

Running-7Throughout the training process, no one was more surprised than me that I actually started enjoying running. My legs craved it, and it was an awesome release after a difficult day. I found some great training routes in Boston, Madison, and in Rhode Island. It certainly wasn’t always fun (read – long runs) but I am so proud that I finished, and beat my goal time by a bit! Now, I am no expert (this was only my first half) but below are some things I learned about running and training for a half marathon.

What I Learned About Running

Get the right shoes – I started training with a pair of sneakers I had owned for about a year and a half and I started getting bad shin pains about 3 weeks into training. I bought a new pair of shoes and the pain disappeared and didn’t return for the rest of the training. Along with the shoes, get good socks, your feet will thank you!
Find a buddy – Training with Tim was a lot more fun than training by myself, and I needed someone to push me, especially to get me out of bed for long runs on a weekend!
Stick to the training plan – I did this fairly well. I used the Hal Higdon 12 week Novice 2 program. Find a routine that works for you, and stick to it. Having a program helped me because I had fewer excuses, and was able to follow it well.
Listen to your body – A bit in conflict to the above, but if it hurts, don’t do it. If you need to skip a day, it won’t kill your training, but be sure to not miss too many in a row.

What I Would Do Differently

Pick a Half Marathon earlier in the fall – I really liked running in the morning, and once the fall hit hard and it was darker in the morning, it was much harder to get motivated to get up. Also, it got dark earlier at night, so I was afraid to run alone in Boston. I didn’t mind running in the heat, so I would definitely pick a marathon in early October next time.
Get a better/more reliable watch – I got the Nike+ SportWatch and there were days when I would wait for it to find the signals for ~5-10 minutes before I would just start running. On the day of the half, it wasn’t ready until I was already 1.5mi into the race. It was incredibly frustrating.
Have a better attitude about the long runs – I was always very apprehensive about the long runs, and as a result, I was pretty salty during the runs. Next time (if there is one), I will be in a better place knowing I have already run that far once before.

What are your running tips? Anything you learned?