It’s been a while since I had my last half marathon, maybe last 10 months ago from the time when I’m in the US or maybe a year, I lost count. I thought then I should get back to serious running. Besides, spring is in, summer is coming and I need to lose those weight I invested in during the winter days. So I registered to the “Go! St Louis Marathon and Family Fitness Weekend”. I’m guessing its one of the best running events in St Louis, Missouri so I go for the half marathon. As long as tech shirts and medals are included, I’m fine with it.
Honestly, a week before the run I’m not confident enough to the thought that I can run the distance the same way I was running it before. Two weeks before the race, I did a challenging 10k trail run and it did made me wonder if I can run longer with the same cold weather and difficult road elevation. So I did have hesitations, trying to look for signs if I should go or not. But then, I went on during the week trying to prepare myself in between my busy work schedule. And I should say thanks to my years of running experience that I was able to conquer another half marathon. This time, in a different route, in a different country and city and with a different weather I’m not used to. So here are some of the things that helped me prepare for this run. I also added some points and tips that can help beginner and experienced runners in their own half marathons…
I only have a single planned training and it’s a week before the race. I just need at least one 10k run on the weekend before the race. Saturday, I was able to do a 7k. I blamed the heat, the very challenging road in Creve Coeur, and the forming blister on my left foot. I did not plan for another run, but came Sunday I was back on the road. This time I put on my other older shoes (I was using a new pair on my Saturday training) and didn’t bring my hydration bottle with me. I finished my 10k training. I had the same blisters but was able to get through with it. Friday before the race I was able to do another easy run with 5k distance.
I wouldn’t recommend this training to half marathon beginners. The best approach in any training, even for experienced runners like me, is to have at least 3 runs in a week in at least 2 months before the race. At least one of those run in a week is a long distance one. For half marathon, I can say 10k to 16k can be the long distance training. Better if you can go further than that as well. There are a lot of site or apps that provides training calendar. The Go! St Louis website has a Training Program that is also useful.
- Food and Nutrition
I was on a strict diet for almost a month before the race. I wouldn’t say it’s a healthy diet. I eat whatever fits on my required calorie content for a day. A week before the race, I took a break on the calorie counting and went back to eating rice. I brought bananas and a daily dose of vitamins in my everyday meal. A day before the race, I munched on carb rich foods as much as I can. Since I was used to eating less before, the carbo loading is like an eating challenge I need to get through with.
This is one important factor to help you gear up on the race day. Do not do long runs a few days before the race. Cramming is not good in sports. If you have not done your long distance run a week before, trust on your previous training and focus on getting stronger through nutrition and enough rest.
Sleep early before the race day. Some people can’t find sleep a day before the race. It happens because it might not be the usual bedtime you are used to. A week before the race, practice early bedtime and go for the 8 hours recommended sleep. My practice before race day, I sleep over during the day as I also have problems sleeping early the night before the race. If you have a gun start anxiety like me where I worry I won’t be able to wake up on time and might missed the gun start or just too excited to run, you can do the same.
- Running Clothes and Gears
In any running distance, runner’s rule is to not try anything new on the race day. As I am more comfortable on my older shoes which I also used on my trainings, I had to stick with it. For half marathons and other longer distances, I usually put on my compression tights. Based on my experience, it does help lessen the pain during and after the race. Also, I put on kinesio tapes for my feet. I found that during and after my long run trainings before the race, my feet hurts I end up limping my way home. So I said I need to do something about it. Kinesio tapes are actually used to minimize pain and injury and it works well on me during and after my race.
The Go! St Louis marathon day was predicted to be a sunny one. So I put on my running cap, brought my sunglasses and applied sun screen for protection. It is very important to know the weather during a run, especially in the US where temperature changes almost everyday. Mornings can be cold and people gear up with jackets or long sleeve clothes and then end up putting them away in the middle of the run. As for me, I preferred to stick with the short sleeve tech shirt and just bear the cold at the start line.
I didn’t want to bring a lot of my stuff during the run and that’s where I utilized the gear check in. Running lighter is running better. I only had my running belt where I placed my phone, energy gels, race bib and my hydration bottle and I’m good to go.
- Food and Hydration
It is also important to plan food and hydration on the race day. At least an hour before the run, take a light snack. I usually have banana and bread with butter in the morning. Do not eat big. The one thing you don’t like to encounter in a race is an upset stomach. Fifteen minutes before gun start, I load up one of my energy gel. I brought additional 2 energy gels that I will consume every hour thereafter during the race. Roctane and GU gels are usually the ones I alternate to consume on races.
Even though I trained my 10k without hydration, I planned to bring one on the race. Checking the race map of Go! St Louis, they have hydration aids every 2 miles. In Manila, the usual hydration distance is every mile. In anyway, I need my hydration bottle for fear of getting dehydrated. I brought my simple hydration bottle that is light and hooks perfectly on my running belt. Water is always the best choice during runs, but if energy drinks are available in hydration aids I alternate it with water.
I don’t have a lot to say here but I did enjoyed my first half marathon in the US. The crowd and the cheers are encouraging and I had fun reading their shout out signs. Based from feedback, the Go! St Louis has a better route this year as it had less of the uphill and downhill roads. It’s a good thing that I’ve trained in one challenging route.
After the race, the best thing to do is go around the expo, show off your hard earned medal and grab all freebies you find. Too bad I was not able to do that during the Go! St Louis event as I have to leave early for another appointment. The best part of completing a long run is having the privilege to eat bigger meals. So I indulged in a good meal, had a refreshing bath and rested my tired legs and feet. It will be pain in the next couple of days but those are sweet pains of achievement.
I hope to have more long runs this year and with the same quality and fun as the Go! St Louis Marathon event. Keep running!