To Run or Not to Run the Marine Corps Marathon

It’s been a month of uncertainty and heartbreak for me, professionally.

My husband and I had just recovered (barely) from him being laid off from his job in May when I received the news three weeks ago that our entire workforce was laid off.

It came as a shock and I scrambled to apply all over the place, reconnect with friends and former colleagues and figure out what to do next.

The first 10 days following the lay off, I was on my own while my husband (with my blessing!) hunted six hours away. So what did that mean? Well, it didn’t mean a whole lot of running since I needed to watch the kids full-time and pick them up and drop them off at school. The handful of times I managed a run, it turned to doing a whole lot of walking…and processing.

No one anticipates a lay-off and our circumstances were pretty extreme in this case.

During the day, it’s all applying for jobs, taking care of kids and finding some personal time for myself. My only rule? Don’t look too far ahead; focus on just what I can do TODAY.

…Oh ya, and then there was that time a week ago when I was rear-ended sitting at a light…

So now, I sit here nearly a month in, picking up the pieces and clutching a $214 weekly unemployment check staring a month ahead for the first time.

Ahead to the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25 in Washington D.C.; the event I’ve SO looked forward to for the past six months. Training has been BRUTAL through these intense summer months and I’ve battled to get my time and/or miles in to stay on track.

Ahead, wondering what my job situation will look like in the weeks and months to come.

I’ve always said “running is 90% mental” and this is where it truly hits. Every mile, my mind is spinning and processing. I’m unable to focus as I prep for my training run. My body craves sleep to stave off the intensity of the day.

And, I think about what is truly “wise” in this situation:

  • If we’re struggling to make sure our bills are all paid on time (they have been), then is it wise to spend such a large chunk of money and still go?
  • If I’m still not sure what my job future looks like, is it wise to plan to be gone for a week? Or, do we NEED to do it, having gone through one of the most stressful summers of our lives?

I’m not sure what the answer is at this point. Flights are booked, but can be banked for future use. My race fee is already paid and I can’t defer or transfer at this point. Half of our time in DC will be spent at a friend’s home (thank goodness! Always my preference to stay with friends anyway). I can cancel our hotel at no cost.

Not running the marathon certainly seems like the easier choice.

But, is it the right one?

marine corps marathon

San Diego Half-Marathon = Hotter Than Hades

Oh the irony of summer running.

A few months ago, I decided to sign up for the America’s Finest City Half-Marathon in San Diego, California. My thought process?

  • Great Tune-Up Run for the half-way point of my full-marathon training
  • Cooler Weather than the 90+ degrees I have to train in super early
  • It’s San Diego

Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

I received multiple emails in the week preceding the event, each emphatically reminding us to hydrate because it was going to be “hot.”

I laughed it off.

“Hot? I’ve been TRAINING in ‘hot,’ and San Diego is NOT ‘hot.'”

Mother Nature certainly had a good laugh this past Sunday.

start of race

The America’s Finest City Half-Marathon starts on a peninsula near a San Diego landmark. We arrived via shuttle bus between 4:30 and 6:30 a.m. prior to the 7 a.m. start time. The Marine Layer seemed to hold in the moisture and the chill of the morning (welcomed!). However, by 7 a.m., it was abundantly clear that we were about to run 13.1 miles in an inferno of sorts, a mixture of humidity, heat and the blacktop under our feet amplifying the terrible weather.

marine layer

Side note: Heat wouldn’t normally be a problem for me. I mean, I’m a desert dweller so I know how to survive. Increase your fluid intake, get lots of rest, stay cool, etc.

In San Diego, however, it’s rather uncommon to have air conditioning. That was a new discovery for me as I stayed in an un-air conditioned friend’s house and ate at restaurants devoid of air conditioning. At 93 degrees with humidity, the weather was no joke so depletion prior to the race was high in likelihood.

As we lined up for the race – about 10,000 of us – we were reminded that there were time limits on this course.

  1. We had to make it to the 6.3-mile mark prior to 8:30 a.m. if we wanted to continue the race. We would not be able to finish the race if we arrived after that time.
  2. If temperatures reached 85 degrees or more PRIOR to that time, people could choose to be shuttled to the finish or simply bypass the two-mile stretch and still receive a medal.

So, no pressure, right? 😉

Thankfully, the first four miles, though hilly, included a lot of downhill. With past cross country racing experience, my coach’s words echoed in my head: Use the downhill.

Just as you would expect with a car, if you brake going down a hill, you’re expending a lot of energy and not taking advantage of a terrific edge – natural speed. I credit this stretch for helping me get to 6.3 well in advance of the cutoff, but I did see quite a number of unfortunate people getting stuck at the cutoff as I was leaving the two-mile segment.

mile 7

I slogged along, running into the sun and feeling the heat waves bouncing off of the asphalt beneath our feet. Each water station offered increasing respite, gratefully. At mile 10, we had a “rain forest” to run through; a makeshift water misting system with false flowers and vines draped over the sides. Then, mile 11 was complete with two water hoses set to the mist setting AND a much more robust sprinkler system that felt more like a shower (thank you, GOD!).

From there, we were on our own. And, if you thought you had earned your medal for making it that far, you were sadly mistaken.

The final 2.1 miles were in the main downtown area, winding you UPHILL toward Balboa Park. As you climbed to the top of one ginormous hill, you would turn a corner to the left only to discover yet another one.

Again, hills are no big deal…except we were all struggling already. My socks were soaked from splashing water over my head and shuffle jogging through mister systems. My head felt a little light, but I was trying my best to avoid using hydration to cool myself off for fear of hyponatremia.

It was pure “survivor mode” for the remainder of the race.

For the $120 entry fee and six hour drive, this race was definitely not what I had envisioned.

But, it was better than training in 117 back home so I guess I’ll take it.


5 Things I’ve Changed in My Marathon Training

A peek into my marathon training log

It’s hard to believe that I’m now nearly halfway through my marathon training!

The Marine Corps Marathon is October 25, which may seem like a really, REALLY long way away given it’s barely August, but we are now at the critical part of training.

I’ve experienced injuries on my journey to 26.2 in the past and let me tell you, it is NO fun. I’m determined to stay healthy and safe this training season and so far, I’ve taken the important precautions to keep it that way.

Here’s a peek at my “training log” of a few things I’ve needed to tweak this time around to achieve my goals to stay healthy and strong this season.

5 Things I’ve Changed in My Marathon Training

#1 My Shoe Inserts

I started my training with a brand-new pair of my favorite Asics, the Kayanos. Known as the “Corvette” of Asics running shoes, they’re a pretty penny, but worth every cent in my opinion. This time around, however, it seems that Asics changed the heel cup a bit…they may have lowered it? In any case, I was noticing some of the tell tale signs of plantar fascitis (yup, I’ve had it before!) so I knew the first thing I needed to do was give my feet more support. Fortunately, my Powerstep orthotic inserts have done the trick, providing more support in my arch and heel.


#2 My Supplements

Keeping my electrolyte and sodium levels stable are also top priorities for me right now. Having experienced hyponatremia too many times, I knew summer hydration would be kicked up significantly, which meant I had to figure out my supplements fast. On the advice of a running friend, I headed to REI in Tempe, Arizona and picked up Skratch electrolyte and sodium drink mixes, some new Gu Mocha-flavored packets with caffeine (heaven!) and some chews. I’ve never been one to like eating while I run, but the Skratch chews are actually pretty good AND don’t seem to stick in your teeth (bonus!)

#3 My Hydration Pack

For eight years, I’ve run with the Amphipod hydration belt, which as served its purpose well. However, I began to notice a few problems with it: 1) Not enough storage space even if I added extra pouches. 2) Annoying on my GI tract. A newer addition to the marathon and ultramarathon running community is the hydration pack, which is basically a sleeker Camelbak water dispenser with improved engineering to remove bounce, chaffing and weight. I wanted to make sure that I adjusted to a new way of hydrating early, so I picked up a Camelbak Circuit prior to my eight-mile long run this past weekend and tried it out. I also added a new Camelbak Podium water bottle with a handy twist nozzle and both seriously transformed my run. Bottom line: Change your hydration pack early on in training so you can get used to it!


#4 My Training Schedule

The original training schedule I am basing my running off of requires three middle-distance runs (think: 3-8 miles) during the week followed by a long run on the weekend. My weekend distance runs were supposed to be on Saturdays, but I’ve found myself switching periodically to Sundays. I’ve also reduced the weekday runs to sometimes twice a week if I was experiencing achiness and increased fatigue. I’ll go on a long walk or lift weights instead unless I’m really feeling terrible. Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual when  you’re putting in the miles during the hottest time of the year. I have a feeling things will balance out better in the coming weeks as my body adjusts and I get better with my hydration and supplementation.


#5 My Thinking About Races During Marathon Training

I decided to commit to the America’s Finest City half-marathon race in San Diego on Sunday, August 16 as my official “halfway point” in training. With cooler weather and no pressure to hit a certain time, I’m looking forward to the change in scenery and seeing how my body is doing in better weather. It’s also a great way to gauge how my body is adjusting to the distance and give myself an extra motivating “halfway point.”


So that’s what I’ve learned so far this marathon training season! After doing so many half-marathons and five full marathons, I know one thing for sure: you always learn something new every time you do it.

Happy running, friends! 🙂

10 Ways Runners are Experts at Everything

You may not realize it, but runners are experts at everything.

No, really. You’d be very surprised to discover just how much runners know about a variety of disciplines.

Here’s proof from what I’ve observed as a marathon runner…and it’s only 10 ways runners are experts at everything. I swear the list could be longer…

1. They’re practically gastroenterologists. They agonize over their bathroom breaks. Seriously. Whether it’s figuring out how to make themselves poop, what to eat before a run to ensure they DON’T need to go No. 2 or what to do when explosive “events” are about to happen mid-run, runners are absolutely obsessed with bathroom stuff. Forget going to your gastroenterologist. Just find a runner.

2. They know more than your nurse does about Vasoline. They have about 59 important uses for Vasoline. I won’t get into all of them, but let’s just say from nipples to “down there,” runners know how to use Vasoline unlike anyone else. There’s a reason it’s handed out on tongue depressors during races. Nurses can’t even. For reals.

3. They know more about your foot than a podiatrist. They really obsess over their socks. Socks?! Don’t you just buy the cheap sports socks from Target and call it good? Oh hell no you don’t! You need arch support and then there’s ankle versus no-show. There’s thick to fill out a shoe with too much room or the thin to take up less room. There’s compression to improve blood flow and a host of other styles intended to enhance your running performance. Trust me, the guy at Sports Authority can’t spit game about socks the way a runner can.

4. They know more than your shoe guy. They have a shoe for every occasion. Want to go for a hike? They know which shoe to grab that has the extra tread, but isn’t too heavy. Want to feel lighter and speedier? They’ll point you in the right direction to find the racing flats that’ll fit best. Feel like doing a triathlon? Oh, they’ll know which brand and style to grab too. Talk to any serious runner and they’re likely to have at least three pairs of shoes in their closet intended for specific workouts.

5. They know more than your nutritionist. Fiber: Bet you didn’t think fiber was going to make this list. It’s true. Hearkening back to point numero uno, runners have to know what’s loaded with fiber because, well, for better or for worse (mostly worse), fiber is the culprit of many, MANY bad runs (pun intended). They can tell you the most fibrous foods to eat….and when you SHOULDN’T eat them (read: within 6+ hours of important race is a good rule of thumb and at least two hours before a run). See? No nutritionist necessary here.

6. They know more than your masseuse. Who needs a professional masseuse? Runners have every torture muscle device under the sun! Whether you’re looking for a firm Stick to work out the kinks, a hard, soft or medium foam roller to squeeze out the lactic acid or simply something to make the bottom of your feet better, go see a runner. They’ll introduce you to a torture chamber worse than 50 Shades of Grey (seriously).

7. They know more than the guy at Best Buy. Gone are the days of carefree jaunts in the park. No, every runner out there has a GPS watch, ear bud, music device and a billion apps that’ll calculate their calories burned, heart rate during every second of every minute of every mile of the race, the steps they took, the pace they should run….you get the picture. Runners are so strapped with devices they likely wouldn’t make it through any normal metal detector.

8. They know more than the girl at GNC. You’re planning to run your first marathon? Good for you – get ready for the part no one every told you about: replenishing! From salt tablets to energy gels and electrolyte drinks, runners have tried them all! Decide now if you like to chew while you run because that’s a critical factor to share with your expert runner so they can decipher which refueling option will be best for you.

9. They know more than the weather man. Only Grandpa rivals the obsessive nature of a runner when it comes to weather. Forget Googling the upcoming 10-day forecast. Just talk to a runner.

10. They know more about traffic signals than a police officer. A wise runner knows how to pay attention to where traffic is flowing, who to pay attention to at any intersection and how to navigate any tricky traffic scenario. If you’re curious about how you can successfully run on the roads without getting hit by a car, find a runner.

So, the next time you need advice on anything, just turn to a runner. Really, they’re the experts at everything.

Happy running, friends!

5 Ways to Build Endurance for Long Runs

The most common thing I hear when someone finds out that I run marathons is this:

“How do you do that?! I can’t even run X miles!”

My response is typically this: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Like any huge challenge or goal in life, you have to break it down into small, attainable goals in order to reach the finish line.

So, how do you build your endurance for long runs? Here’s my advice:

1. Focus on time first. Rather than thinking about how far you need to run, switch your perspective to time instead. Let your watch be your guide. For instance, instead of saying you’re going to run three miles today, make it 30 minutes or 20 minutes instead. The next time you run, add 5 minutes to it.

2. Walk-run. People often ask how I can run 26.2 miles straight. The answer is that I don’t. Many notable marathon runners such as former Olympian Jeff Galloway recommend a “walk-run” method. Typically, it means you run for a certain amount of time and walk for a certain amount of time. This builds endurance while also being kinder on your joints, which can also often reduce the likelihood of injury. You can set some watches to chime during specific intervals so you are running for five minutes and walking for two minutes, etc.

3. Be consistent. Starting and stopping or only running once a week for a long time will not produce terrific endurance results (believe me!). The more you run the same distance well in advance of your race, the better you will feel and the more comfortable your body will be at that distance. So, if your goal is to run a 5K, you should be doing a 2-mile run, a 3-mile run and perhaps a 5-mile run every week, consistently, for several weeks. When you finally arrive at your 5K race, it’ll feel like a breeze.

4. Refuel. Sometimes, when you’re growing your endurance, you’re burning more energy than what’s left in the tank. To stabilize your energy during a longer run (whether you’re at 4 or 14 miles), be sure to adjust your replenishment. Lower mileage like 4 miles might mean bringing a small water bottle with an electrolyte drink cut with water to give your body a boost mid-run. Longer runs will usually mean a caffeinated energy gel, electrolyte drink and/or sodium-electrolyte tablets or capsules.

5. Keep your eyes up. It’s easy to look down at the ground as your slogging along, but resist the temptation! Keep your eyes up and focus on a point ahead of you. Set mini goals along the way such as “I’m going to jog to that light pole and then take a breather.” Challenge yourself to go a little farther than what’s comfortable to push your limits.

Happy running, friends! 🙂

5 Reasons You Should Add a Half-Marathon to Your Training Schedule

If you’ve ever run a full marathon, you know what the training can feel like.


Mostly because you’re running (much of the time) on the same paths, on the same days at the same times.

But, running a full marathon rarely happens on those same paths. It’s important to switch things up.

With that in mind, I recently signed up for the America’s Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego, California this August as a mid-training schedule prep run for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve run a half marathon while training for a full marathon…and one when I hadn’t even trained (whoops!). It was the race distance I LOVED and did over and over again until I took the plunge into 26.2 miles.

Here’s why I’m adding the half-marathon into my marathon training schedule:

1. It gives you another milestone. Just like marathon training, you’re constantly looking ahead to the next mile marker to keep you going. By giving yourself a race to look forward to within the three- to four-month training slog, you can successfully break things up so the time frame isn’t so daunting

2. It keeps you on track. There’s no cheating your mileage or long runs when you have this run intentionally built into your training calendar. Having a half-marathon smack dab in the middle of your full-marathon training schedule will help you stick with your long runs week after week so you’re prepared for your first race.

3. It gives you a glimpse of your weaknesses. If you time your half-marathon correctly during your training calendar, you’ll begin to notice a few things during the race. Maybe hills were a disaster during the race. Guess what you need to incorporate into your workout regimen prior to your full marathon race? Hills! Maybe you didn’t have any gas left at a certain point or felt off with your hydration. Guess what you need to practice or retool more? Your fluid and electrolyte replenishment!

4. It gets you excited. There’s nothing better than the day of a race! While nerves might kick in initially, the joy you feel as you run in a different area, take in the sights and breathe in the energy of so many other fired up runners will give you the highest runner’s high that you’ve ever experience. Talk about inspiration to take your training to the next level!

5. It’s practice. Practice really doesn’t make “perfect,” but it will certainly help you feel more mentally prepared for racing conditions and what it will be like on race day, especially if you have to travel to get to your full marathon race. (That’s a post for another time!)

So, if you’re ready to incorporate the magical 13.1-mile race into your full marathon training schedule OR you want to try it out for the first time ever, take a peek at this link where you can see upcoming half-marathon races.

You can also search for other races across the country here.

Happy running, friends! 🙂

10 Ways to Get Motivated to Run (Again)

How I rediscovered running again

It’s really easy to stop running.

I mean, REALLY easy.

Your toddler woke you up for the umpteenth time last night. You ate the wrong thing the night before. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s hot. The bed is comfy. My favorite running pants are dirty. I’m not sure where my socks are. My running shoes are worn out. I don’t feel like it. I’m tired. It’s going to be a long day….

…you get the picture.

And, in full honesty, this has been my life since completing the Boston Marathon early last year. Between injuries, stress and just plain ol’ ordinary excuses, I made it very easy on myself to stop running.

So, I did…mostly.

Without any real training commitments, I had no real motivation to get up and go…until I decided to try my luck and put in for the Marine Corps Marathon.


In February, I received the email notification and my fate was sealed.

And I had to start this whole get-back-into-running-shape thing ALL.OVER.AGAIN.

Okay, so if you’ve been struggling to get motivated to run again (like me), here’s my best advice now that I’m two solid weeks in.

10 Ways to Get Motivated to Run (Again)

1. Ignore the weather. Yes, I get it. It’s muggy or freezing or hotter than h*@l where you live. Guess what: unless you live on the beach, the weather will NEVER be perfect so forget about checking the weather app.

2. Run early. I’m sure all the night owls are going to hate me for this one. Yep, I make myself go to bed EARLY so I can get up at the crack of dawn. You know why? Because the end of the day is a HECK of a lot harder to make sure my workout happens than at the beginning when the kids (and my husband!) are still asleep. It’s “me” time, y’all!

3. Eat lighter at night. Overall, the “eat lighter” concept is one that I’m taking to heart as part of my “get-my-butt-in-gear” goals anyway. Let me tell you though: eating steak the night before a run (whether it’s 3 or 13 miles) is NOT a great way to prep for a workout. Meat takes forever to digest and one of the things that drives me insane is having to make a pit stop at a gas station while I’m en route to my destination. Ain’t NOBODY got time for that!

4. Tell everyone. Do you know how many people ask me how my running is going? Um, just about every friend or colleague I know. Why? Because I tell them. It’s not about bragging; it’s about accountability. Who LOVES to admit when they’re failing at something? Neither do I.

5. Pick (and Post!) your schedule. I trolled Google, printed out a bunch of blank calendar sheets for the next three months (up until marathon Sunday) and wrote out how many miles I needed to run on particular days. Then, I covered it in magnets on the fridge and mark on it every time I complete my run. It’s a constant reminder and also a great way to feel like you “checked the box” for the day.

6. Don’t overdo it. Runner’s high is pretty amazing, I’ll admit. In fact, in my first week back at it, I hardly wanted to take a day off, especially when the weather turned and it was *suddenly* 73 degrees on a Saturday morning…in July…in Arizona. (MIRACLE) Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to rest up in between runs. Your muscles and joints are taking a pounding. A good rule of thumb is to never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent. Try running two or three times in your first week, but gauge it by how your muscles are doing.

7. Roll out. That lactic acid is going to creep in as you get back to running, so your job is to push it out of your unsuspecting muscles so you’re not extra crampy. Get a foam roller, the Stick and even a golf ball (you’ll thank me!) so you can get to work. I actually like to roll out my quads and calves prior to a run to help loosen them up and make them a little more flexible before I hit the pavement.

8. Focus on drinking (water). Ugh. Who wants to drink boring ol’ water? I’ve tried filling up a giant water cup and drinking out of a straw; scheduling water breaks to get up and fill up…nothing seems to work. Then, I brought a personal water infuser to work, a cucumber, and some lemons. Voila! Insta water excitement. The flavor was a lot better than nasty Arizona water so I drank quite a bit more. There’s something out there that says to “drink 1/2 your body weight in water,” but as a person who has suffered from hyponatremia multiple times, I don’t like that at all. You should judge your hydration by two things: the color of your urine and the amount of fluids you lose during a workout. Basically, the lighter the urine, the better. If it’s clear, back off on hydrating. If it’s amber colored, you’re majorly dehydrated. Always weigh yourself before your run and after. You’ll get an idea of how much you were sweating and you should aim to drink that amount plus the norm. As a native Arizonan, hydration has always been a critical component in distance running, but I haven’t always done it well. Learn from my mistakes!

9. Find a buddy. I admit; I’m a bit more of a lone wolf when it comes to running. I love the quiet opportunity to reflect or zone out and running with a buddy can be a bit distracting in good and bad ways. Sometimes, especially at first, you need a buddy who can get you going, meet up with you and push you. Find someone who’s at or just above your fitness level and you’ll be happy and inspired.

10. Get happy. If you’re feeling like you’re dragging yourself out of bed and hating your life before you go for a run, it’s time for a perspective change! Take a few moments before you head out the door to think about why you’re doing this and what you hope to see outside on your run. Load your iPod/iPhone up in advance with some of your favorite songs and speed ahead to a favorite one to get your run started. If all else fails: SMILE. It’s super hard to be a Negative Nelly with a smile plastered across your face.

Happy running, friends! 🙂

Unfriended: The Dangers of Running Groups + Social Media

4 Quick Tips for Managing Your Running Group in Social Media

It came out of left field.

Before heading out for a run on a beautiful spring day, I realized I hadn’t seen any posts in my Facebook newsfeed from the local running group I had joined about a year earlier. While I hadn’t been able to make it out in a very long time because of a nagging Achilles injury following the Boston Marathon, I enjoyed interacting with other runners and getting little bits of inspiration watching them accumulate medals and revel in another trail run.

Searching for the running group, it dawned on me…

They had unfriended me.

Just a few weeks prior, I had finally been able to compete in a race again. A half-marathon under my belt and excitement bolstered, I blogged about my experience and shared it with the group.

It was promptly deleted and I then received a message from one member who wrote saying he enjoyed the post, and another from the group’s facilitator:

“I didn’t see you at the Phoenix Marathon. Will you be joining our group?”

I responded with my story about my injury; that I was getting back into running and was intimidated by the pace and the morning runs didn’t work with my work schedule at the moment (smiley emoticons sprinkled throughout). 🙂

No response.

Of the 689 members, apparently, my not showing up or properly introducing myself to one of its organizers was enough for me to get booted.

I was shocked. I felt rejected and upset.

In 20 years of competitively running (even with high school girls!) I had never experienced this before. The runners I knew were friendly, welcoming and cheerful, doped up on runners’ highs and sports gels.

I wrote her back asking for clarification, wondering if posting a blog about running wasn’t okay or if I had broken some other rule. Nothing in the rules on the group page mentioned anything about not posting articles or requiring that you pay a membership fee or show up to workouts in order to be part of the group. In fact, the message on their page says, “Please do not be intimidated or afraid to come out and meet us!”

Though that had been my exact response, she never returned a message to me encouraging me to feel otherwise.

It’s tempting to want to shut down and stick with being a lonely canal runner, I’m reminding myself that this is just ONE bad experience; that there are plenty of other runners I’ve encountered who are friendly and welcoming regardless.

I choose to run happy.

I share this story not to come across as a whiner or say “woe is me,” but to encourage awareness, especially when it comes to social media and how you choose to interact with potential group members.

4 Quick Tips For Managing Your Running Group in Social Media:

1) Be Exclusive or Be Inclusive. You can’t be both. If you choose to be exclusive, make sure you are clear about the parameters you expect for someone to be part of the group. Whether it’s a mile pace, membership dues or the fact that you must love Star Wars, just be sure to write it down somewhere and share it openly.

2) Unfriend Cautiously (and Kindly). The running community is truly a small one. I’m respectfully keeping the group’s name out of this article, but it will be difficult for me to speak highly of the group or feel good seeing them at upcoming races. It’s a small world; be careful of who (and how) you unfriend someone.

3) Share Group Guidelines. If you’re just a Facebook group of runners who interact, be sure to post what’s okay and not okay to include in the group. Whether it’s offensive material, self-promoting blogs, or trying to sell something to the group, spell it out and then encourage new members to read the guidelines.

4) Have Grace. If someone happens to break a rule you’ve stated, manage the post and message the person to remind them of your guidelines. Ultimately, don’t make it a deal breaker unless it truly is one. People make mistakes so start by giving them the benefit of the doubt.

The SMART Half-Marathon Recovery Plan

How to recover from a half-marathon even faster

phoenix half marathonJust a few days ago, I ran my first half-marathon (the Phoenix Marathon) in more than five years (I’ve been on the full-marathon track).

And I didn’t train for it.

In fact, the longest run I had done, which was admittedly sporadic at best, was about 4 miles on a trail.

What’s more surprising/miraculous/crazy is that a) I didn’t get injured and b) actually ran the majority of it.

Now, only three days later, I’ve completed a trail run at lunch and it felt phenomenal

How did this happen???

Here’s what I’m thinking happened and why my legs felt so good only three days later:

Race Day

  • I eased off my per-mile pace. On race day, I dropped my pace by more than a minute per mile and went in with zero expectations and all the permission in the world to walk. This was about completing the half-marathon, not PR’ing.
  • I wore a tried-and-true workout outfit. Most runners will tell you not to eat or wear anything new on race day. Well, when you haven’t prepared at all, this concept is kind of thrown out the window. The second best thing to do is choose a workout outfit that consistently performs on your training runs…including your worn-in running shoes rather than your new pair (Asics vs Hokas in this case).
  • I supplemented heavily on the course. I have a history of dealing with hyponatremia (basically throwing your body’s natural balance of sodium and electrolytes off because of too high of a water intake or use of an over-the-counter pain reliever, which affects water absorption), so every time I train for a distance race, I carefully supplement. As an Arizona runner, this means going for Gatorade rather than water and Gu instead of fluids. This race included two caffeinated shots/drinks as natural energizers.
  • I used my compression socks. Since implementing compression socks into my training and races, I’ve noticed a little more control in my legs and feet, which comes in handy when fatigue begins to set in.
  • I played “happy” music. Nothing can stand in my way when I hear Pharrell’s “Happy” start bumping on my iPhone. Keep your phone stocked with happy, upbeat (but not overly energized) music for the natural mood lifts you will inevitably need.

Okay, so that was race day. Next up: the recovery, which really begins the second you cross that finish line. I’m not an expert or a physician, but here is my SMART Half-Marathon Recovery Plan and what I did to speed up the rebuilding process (along with a cool acronym…that always helps, right?).

SMART Half-Marathon Recovery Plan

SMART= Socks, Move, Assess, Replenish & Time

Socks. Yep, those compression socks again. Time and time again, I hear runners sing the praises of these wonderful socks and boy, do they help! The compression is thought to aid in circulation. Increased circulation means blood flow; better blood flow means getting that yucky lactic acid build up out of there and the good stuff in. I wore mine all the way home, showered and then put on a fresh pair for the rest of the day.

Move. The best way to keep your legs loose and blood flowing is to do the counter-intuitive…the exact OPPOSITE of what your legs want to do after running 13.1 miles. MOVE. Walk around the house, do whatever you can; just don’t lay down for the rest of the day and be a couch potato. Enjoy a lazy bout a few days later or you will truly regret it.

Assess. Half-marathons and other long distance runs can do damage to your muscles. The bad habits your feet have picked up along the way (landing on the side of your foot or on the back of your heel, for instance) are more pronounced as you’re continually doing it for miles and miles. Assess the aches and pains and make sure they’re not injuries. Ice baths (yes, get 10-pound bags, dump them into bath tub, and sink those tootsies and your body into it–or simply go out to the pool if it’s unheated in a colder climate) can help with inflammation, but if you’re still hurting, you may have done something. Go easy.

Replenish. Your body expels fluids through breathing and sweat and your muscle tissue breaks down as you run. Replenishing your body immediately following the run is critical. Gatorade or a similar electrolyte-infused drink as well as a protein-rich drink such as a bottle of chocolate milk (yum!) or even Muscle Milk-like products can do WONDERS. I downed a sample bottle after my race and I know it made a difference in my recovery! You want to get that protein into your body within 30 minutes of completing your run. If you are already used to a protein supplement, consider stashing it in your gear check bag and mixing it up after your finish.

Time. This is probably the hardest part of recovery for many people. Anxious to capitalize on that banked endurance, some of us get a little too excited and decide to tackle a 10K run or maybe even another race following the half-marathon. Please know that while there are some die-hards out there who thrive on ultras and running race after race, most of us haven’t prepared for that. Give your body time to mend. Some people recommend giving yourself a day for every mile run, but I would suggest to you that that’s overkill. Go for a walk every day following the half-marathon and see how you’re feeling. Run on a softer surface like dirt or grass for your first run back at it to give yourself a little more shock absorption.

Congratulations on preparing for and completing a half-marathon! It’s a huge accomplishment and one everyone should pursue at least once in their lifetime.

Run happy, my friends.

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