Tips for Training for a Half Marathon:
Marathon season is upon us here in Chicago, including the Allstate Life Insurance℠Chicago 13.1 Marathon® coming up on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (Major tip: We are giving away a free registeration to the race. If you would like to be included in our drawing, which will take place on May 1, 2012, please e-mail Chicago@aboutguide.com and include "Half Marathon Giveaway" in the subject line.) If it is your first time running a half marathon, not to worry. Chicago's Jenny Hadfield, best-selling author, running coach, endurance athlete, and owner of Chicago Endurance Sports, offer these basic tips for dominating the track on race day.
Start Off on the Right Foot:
Find a training plan that suits you. The key to building endurance is to start from where you are rather than where you want to be. If you jump into a program that requires a large jump in mileage, frequency or intensity, you will be on a fast track to burn out. The body is able to adapt and improve at an efficient rate so long as you make small changes along the way. Hadfield offers this advice for those just starting their training regime, “The first week of the training plan should closely match that of your current training plan. Think of this like an education and take it one grade at a time. Your body will pay you back in dividends by recovering from the workouts so you can progress along the way. Less is more when you’re first getting started. Hold back the reigns of excitement and take it one step at a time.”
Listen to Your Body:
We are told that it’s good to feel sore the next day, but be mindful of what your body is telling you. Although aches and pains can arise along the training journey, most can be easily resolved by a rest day or cross-training to allow adequate recovery. It is best to keep a journal and monitor how you are progressing and feeling throughout the training process. By tracking your progress you will begin to unlock the mysteries to your personal training recipe and further understand ways to improve your workout.
Train Outside the Box:
Strength training, flexibility work and cross-training activities are equally important when it comes to preparing for the big day! Workouts such as foam rolling, weight lifting and cycling will improve running efficacy, muscle balance and reduce mental fatigue and muscle tension. “Think of it like making a tasty bowl of chili. It’s the balance of the ingredients that makes the meal,” says Hadfield. Watch this video for a tutorial on the foam rolling exercise for endurance runners.
Your long training sessions are dress rehearsals for race day and the perfect opportunity to practice everything from hydration to pace and pre/post race nutrition. Use your training schedule as a log and keep track of shoe mileage, mood, pace, effort level and what you eat before, during and after. The more details you dial in now, the less you have to worry about during race week when the nerves start to set in.
Don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Taper Madness, is a condition induced by less training, increased race nerves and more time on our hands. “When taper madness strikes, take a deep breath, stay calm, and have faith in your preparation. You are well trained and adding anything to the schedule will only take away from your performance on race day! Take the time to rest, eat well and spend a little more time with the folks in your life you may have ignored due to training. Rest the body. Stimulate the mind,” says Hadfield.
Go with What You Know:
Remember, don’t try anything new race week. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and begin to make drastic changes in your diet, training and equipment. The time to make changes and adjustments is during the season. For example you'll want to avoid drinking tons more water. When you get tempted to make a change, remember this golden rule and stick to what your body knows.
Bring Your Mental Game Plan:
Review the course map and break it up into smaller, more digestible pieces It's easier to stay focused and engaged for shorter periods of time than for several hours. Pack power words and positive mantra’s to carry you through the race. Words like “slow and easy early in the race will remind you to avoid going out too fast and later in the race go with empowering words like "strong and steady" to keep your mind focused.
The number one thing you can control on race day is your pace. It is very easy to get caught up in all the excitement at the start of the race. Just remember, racing is all about energy management.
More About the Allstate Life Insurance℠ Chicago 13.1 Marathon®:
The Allstate Life Insurance℠ Chicago 13.1 Marathon® will take place on Saturday, June 9, 2012, starting and finishing at the historic South Shore Cultural Center with a race path highlighting the Lake Front Trail, Osaka Japanese Garden and the Museum of Science and Industry. For more information, visit the race's Web site. And remeber: We are giving away a free registration to the race. E-mail us at Chicago@aboutguide.com by May 1, 2012 and in the subject line put "Half Marathon Giveaway" to be entered into our drawing.