Before my first half marathon, a 5K in college was my max distance race.
And I was slow.
There were participants right behind beside me drinking beer on the course.
So if you’re thinking, “I really want to do a half-marathon, but I have only ever ran one mile, and it was the one required for junior high P.E. class.”
Friend, this post is for YOU.
Congrats on registering (or considering registering) for a half-marathon! I love half-marathon weekends, and nothing makes me more excited and motivated than clicking that “register” button.
YOU. WILL. NOT. REGRET. IT.
Here’s a few tips from my ever-growing bag of tricks that I learned after running my first half-marathon (pictured above at the finish)
1. Shoes. I’ve said this before, but get cha some good running shoes! Go to a running store and let the experts fit you for the shoe that best suits your stride- you won’t regret it. You WILL regret thinking that your shoes fit when actually they don’t and your toenails begin to turn unpleasant colors. Dark blue toenails aren’t cute; They’re scary and your friends will be concerned for your toes of many colors.
2. Hydration.Note: hydration is NOT all water consumption. Hydration is actually having the proper amount of electrolyte balance to keep your body going. On short runs, I always take water with me. I honestly can’t train myself out of it (maybe I haven’t tried hard enough?). On long runs, I take a mix of blue gatorade with water in a sexy little fuel belt. Figuring out which hydration method works for you is key. Try different methods like coconut water, powerade, gu, energy gels. It’s also important to hydrate the day before, especially on long runs.
3. Developing a training plan and stick with it. B-E Consistent. For me, this means laying my running clothes across the room next to my alarm clock so I have no excuse to say no.
4. Cross-train. This is the best way to prevent injury. Add weights, and work on those abs and glutes. A lot of running injuries are caused from weak or tight glutes and abs. Planks are your new best friend. (other ideas for cross-training: CrossFit, yoga, barre, kickboxing, cycling, pilates…basically any movement that’s not running)
5. Keep going. If you think “when will this enddddd” then keep going. Once you’re out of your funk later and reflecting on your run, you’ll be bummed that you didn’t pick up your feet and keep it up. Your mind will quit LONG before your body will. Don’t let your mind fool you. YOU are the boss. Keep moving.
And on a similar note…
I know I say it all the time, but keep moving forward. Just because you reached your goal (distance, speed, finish line, or whatever) doesn’t mean that you’ve reached the end of your goals. Don’t get complacent! The world needs your energy. <- That sounded incredibly hippy and peace and love, but you get me. Keep on keepin’ on!
HAVE FUN! Just go running. It’s actually supposed to be hard. Love the process.
P.S. ASK QUESTIONS! Runners are generally happy people, and I’m sure someone would be happy to help out if you have any questions. OR if you don’t have a crazy runner friend, ask me!
For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in 2012, the year before my college graduation. I had never heard of ulcerative colitis until my diagnosis. I remember thinking, “Thank God- it’s not cancer.” Because after two-three hellacious weeks of losing over 25 pounds and not recognizing what the heck was happening to my body, I was sure that it was something drastic.
I ignored people, even some who I loved, pleading with me to take a medical leave of absence; my GPA even increased during this time, probably because: 1. I was quarantined to my house with no social life since I was shitting 30 times a day, and 2. I was determined to prove that my limitations weren’t limiting me.
I remember the doctor explaining “there’s no cure, but it is treatable,” and thinking “Well, why bother telling me there’s not a cure if it’s treatable?” But I know now that what he meant was, “We’re going to try a lot of different medications, and see how you respond. Over time, they may lose efficacy, and you’re going to have to try new meds. Some of these medications may require lifestyle adjustments, like having to go to the hospital every few weeks for an infusion for the rest of your life. You’ll try dietary adjustments. You may feel anxious and face sleepless nights; you may become a person you don’t recognize; you’ll lose your hair and have weight fluctuations, but you’ll gain the best kind of people for friends. You’ll have a struggling social life, but you’ll adjust. Each and every time, you’ll overcome, and you’ll be stronger for it.”
^That’s what he implied. Honestly, it’s taken me years to figure out that this is a lifelong thing. Sometimes I still don’t get it.
That year of college was memorable. I recall not knowing if I’d have the energy to make it up the stairs to class. I promised myself that if I had the ability to move again, then I would.
That following May in 2013, my roommate and I completed a sprint triathlon.
Then I graduated, moved out into the real world, found a job, and got angry.
I started researching. I realized that I wasn’t alone in this unglamorous, poop struggle, and not many people talk about it (not victim-blaming. It’s not a sexy disease).There’s over a million people in America alone with this disease…but there’s no cure. Absurd. I was angry that there weren’t cures. I was angry that I was going to have to deal with rollercoaster flares. I was just…angry.
So I thought, “I think I’ll go for a run.” Because honestly, I’m rarely angry. I remember being angry and upset only a handful times growing up, and I went running, huffing and puffing my way around the neighborhood each time.
But this time was different. I wanted to prove to myself that I was tough, despite my weakness. I wanted to push against my limitations, and I wanted to feel strong. I needed to know that I was not damaged goods, and I wasn’t the diagnosis code on a medical chart, but that I was even more capable than ever before in my life.
My way of dealing was running.
Around my angry/I want to feel better and make some trouble on behalf of others/time of chronic badassery, I found Team Challenge and trained for a half-marathon while fundraising for cures to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease- and I channeled my anger into some productivity.
And today I keep running.
If you want me to be real with you, I took a break from October until this month…zero runs, because I physically and mentally couldn’t, because of a nasty flare that has required time, energy, and commitment to dietary adjustments and more meds to shake me outta my funk. I haven’t felt like me…
I’ve spent days in bed until nearly afternoon. I’ll drop Zack off at work, go to bed, and then pick him up after a day asleep, only to go back to sleep. He has been the real slim shady through all of this.
And it’s okay. Struggles are temporary.
Finally, my meds have started working, my dietary adjustments began healing my gut, things started clicking, and the wheels started turning.
Tonight I ran two miles without stopping. Two miles of up and over hills, around neighborhood corners, and hopping over sidewalk cracks, and I feel alive. I can feel my lungs struggling to get their rhythm, and I can feel my legs swinging happily beneath me while my feet pound the pavement, and I’m thankful for my 90’s playlist in my ears and the wind through my hair.
(Shoutout to Mother Nature for allowing me to run with my hair DOWN today- freedom!)
In short, I run because I can and for me, that is the greatest reason of all. I don’t think about ulcerative colitis. All I think about is making it to the next light pole, around the bend. And suddenly I’m there, and I keep going. I run because I get to keep going, past my limitations and beyond sickness.
Because I can :).
Why do you run?
P.S. When I can get a bit more organized, I’m thinking of making a couch to half-marathon training list with the help of one of my running coach friends.
A UC patient from the couch to a half-marathon…or two or three
Hope you’re enjoying your Wednesday! This week is flyin’.
It’s important if you’re working out, you realize that you’re putting (good) stress on your muscles, which can sometimes lead to oxidative stress. To help optimize your body’s recovery process it’s important to include some antioxidants, like blueberries, dark green veggies, or nuts to help combat that oxidative stress. This smoothie is high in antioxidants AND protein, and it makes for a great recovery snack.
The deets: Did I just say “deets?”
-1 scoop Vega chocolate sport protein, 30g protein (for low FODMAP take a little less than half of the scoop so the pea protein is still compliant, and add some liquid egg whites for extra protein if needed)
-1 tbsp PB, 4 g protein; 8 g (good) fat (over half is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat; and ~30% is polyunsaturated fat) source
-1 cup blueberries
-1/2 cup raspberries
-handful of leafy greens
-1/2 cup plain, lactose-free yogurt (for low FODMAP) OR probiotic Greek yogurt
-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla almond milk is good, too)
BLEND & serve 🙂
Top with some almonds and strawberries for fun
Hope you enjoy your day! Today is nutrition homework day for me. Keep moving forward!
Have you ever thought, “I’d really like to run, but there’s no way I can run __ miles.” OR “I used to run all the time! But I haven’t in forever.”?
Fear not, I’m here for ya. Solidarity.
When I started running my longest distance was a 5k obstacle race that I basically walked with my kind, patient runner roommate back in college, and that was a good four years before I decided to lace up with effort. In high school, I was a baton twirler who avoided running like the plague, so you get my drift. Not. A. Runner. SO from a non-runner turned runner, the BEST advice I can give to someone who wants to start running for fun, for distance, for whatever your motivation is:
1. Start running, and run outside. Find a little neighborhood that you wish was yours if you’re like me and you live in the scary as shit inner city. Find a park, run around the street, go to an old high school track and run bleachers. Wherever makes you a happy, go there and put one foot in front of the other, but DO NOT run on a treadmill if you hate treadmills. Get outside, friend.
2. Set attainable goals,especially with running. Don’t lace up and expect to be the next Usain Bolt, and don’t lace up on your very first run thinking, “Five miles, baby. No stopping.”
Setting distance goals are AMBITIOUS AND WONDERFUL, but start small and work from there. Don’t hurt yourself-that will NOT help you learn to love running! If you’re running and you find yourself struggling to keep moving, set an even smaller, realistic goal like “I’m going to make it to the sign by that tree, and then I’ll walk for one minute.” Next time you run that route, I’ll bet you make it past the sign by the tree.
3. Probably most importantly, FIND GOOD RUNNING SHOES (and socks when you go longer). When I started running, I knew nothing. TMI, but my toenails soon turned black and were threatening to fall off, because apparently my hot pink Asics were too small. Oops. Evidently it’s not good to run in the same size shoe you normally wear for fashion. Go to a running specialty shop and ask to be fitted; you won’t regret it. (Favorites in Texas: Luke’s Locker)
4. Be kind to yourself, and be patient for results. Some runs are going to suck, and others you’ll feel the full effects of the “runner’s high”. Sometimes you’ll probably hate running, but I promise if you stick with it, you will learn to appreciate what your body can do with just a little bit of time and consistency.
P.S. If you can find a community or friends to run with, it is SO.MUCH.EASIER. to not give up. If not, invite your friends to support you at the finish line after your training has paid off 🙂
^ View from my run on Sunday’s “fall” Houston weather. No Garmin, no gadgets, and no headphones for this one. Just me, my two feet, and a beautiful afternoon = bliss.
Apparently I can be convinced to run if I know wine is waiting on me at the finish line.
I ran (and walked and trotted) the forever sold-out Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, exactly one year ago from today’s date.
I was never a runner before this race- not even a little bit. Before Napa the greatest distance I had ever committed to was a 5K years before this race, and I distinctly remember walking alongside a participant who was drinking a beer between strides…if that tells you anything about my speed situation. I honestly just decided to start running, which is the best advice I can give to anyone who is thinking about running. Just go for it!
Why now? I’m a Crohnie, and I needed to prove something to myself- I stumbled across the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s website after I discovered that my Crohn’s disease wasn’t going away, which took a couple of years for that sweet news to really sink in. I honestly didn’t realize there wasn’t a cure, and after nearly three years of on-again-off-again symptoms between infusions at the hospital every six to eight weeks, I was disgruntled and began searching for answers. That’s when I found Team Challenge. (I know, this sounds like an infomercial. It’s not! Hang in there with me…)
Team Challenge is a fun-loving group of crohnies and/or caretakers or strangers who fundraise for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and train together for half marathons near, far, and beyond (they also do triathlons, too!). The funds raised support patient programs, provide education to the public, and my personal favorite, fund research. The particular season that I joined happened to be training for Napa. Sign me up!
It was tough, especially balancing active Crohnie probs with running. But I was running with people who understood, or at least cared for someone who understood. Some mornings were amazeballs and I’d pump out a fast ten miles like it was nothing, but occasionally I’d have to cut a run short and sprint home to make it back in time to be sick. Other days I just couldn’t get out of bed, but beyond all the trials running changed me. Team Challenge changed me on a molecular level, and helped me accomplish more than I ever imagined for myself. Because of Team Challenge, I now identify as a runner (which in my mind sounds like I’m a little badass)
After the first couple of months of training, I actually began enjoying running. I even enjoyed early mornings (see? it changed me!)! Some runs were HARD, as in listening to the nike lady congratulate me through my headphones for my 12:30 pace hard. Others were amazeballs, and the good, brisk runs made me thankful for all the hard, terrible runs. Without perseverance through the hot, hard days of training, I wouldn’t have so many good runs. Every time I got a new PR, I cried happy tears- what a nice, normal sight for strangers to see. But I wasn’t in a hospital bed. I wasn’t in a fetal position on the bathroom floor. I wasn’t in my bed fatigued. I was defying sickness. I was testing the limits, and I was feeling truly alive.
Life is like that, too. Sometimes you wake up thinking, “How did this happen to me? How did I end up here?” Well. It’s not the end. You are going to be looking back one day thanking God and your lucky stars for keeping you through all the rough times, because they truly do make you stronger. Strength is something that’s hard to develop, but persevere. Reach, persist, believe, be determined, and stick it out. You will rise above. You’ll look back and marvel. And you’ll live to tell about it.
Lindsay greeted me at the finish line with the biggest smile and sweetest hug (even though I was sweaty)! I don’t know my time from this race, but it was something ridiculously slow. The point to me was to finish, and that I did! I ran up hills and down through valleys next to family-owned vineyards and past small children with lemonade stands. I ran in wine country, yall! And I did it for cures.
One year race-iversary, and I’m hooked. Never.looking.back.
Keep moving forward 🙂
P.S. I am tremendously grateful for each of you who supported me through prayer, good ju-ju, or straight up financially so that I could cross the finish line and raise hell on behalf of fellow Crohnies. Thank you for believing in me, and thank you for believing in cures! I am always thankful for you (Phil 1:3)!