Running Q&A

I’ve gotten a few emails and Facebook messages asking about my half marathon. Here are some of the details below. Please keep in mind that I am by no means qualified to give advice, other than *this is what works for me*.

· Garmin/Polar running devices – I have a Polar but I rarely use it when I run. It was very helpful when I was first starting out as a runner, so that I could track my miles and pace. After running for a year and a half, I just listen to my body. I know what a 10 min/mile pace feels like, and I usually run at a faster pace. Maybe I will start using it again to force myself into a 9 min/mile training pace. I didn’t care to work on pace for this half, but I probably will for future races. I ran one 5k with my Polar and I found it too distracting. I was too focused on what the device was telling me and not listening to my body. I would have done better to have just gone with my gut. That said, I try to always bring it to the gym for cardio and weights – I love seeing how many calories I burn. Also, my friend Cody, who coaches runners for marathons told me to work on distance and my pace will automatically improve…he was right.
· Mapping runs – One advantage the Garmin has is a built in GPS. However, I found it to be too heavy and bulky for my small wrist. If I’m going out for a really long run, I’ll use www.mapmyrun.com to chart out a course beforehand. Like I said above, I rarely use my Polar when running anymore.
· Starting out – Almost two years ago I could not run 1 mile without stopping for breath and water. I could have gone a couple more miles after the Zooma half marathon if I’d needed to. I used Couch to 5K to “learn” how to run (google or buy it on itunes). It teaches you how to build up to 3 miles. After that, you can safely add one mile per week with no problem.
· Race Breakfast – Previously, I never wanted to eat much before a race. Chalk it up to nervous jitters and the time I threw up at the end of a 5k. Before my first half I only had a muffin. This time I had: small bowl of Raisin Bran with (full fat) milk, Eggo waffle with fake butter (Country Crock spread) and full-sugar-full-calorie Aunt Jemima syrup, one blueberry muffin, cup of apple juice, glass of water. That sounds like a LOT and it really is, compared to the amount of calories I usually consume in a day, but I ate it at 5:30 and the race started at 7:30 or 8. It was all digested by then and I actually never got fatigued during the race. All of those carbs kept my energy going.
· Carb Loading – I don’t *totally* believe in carb loading. Like, I won’t eat a huge pasta the night before (I had a side order size of fettuccine alfredo before the Zooma). But I once read that it’s important to up your carbs for the couple of days leading up to a long (over 10k) race, so I did that this time. I don’t change my eating habits for any other distances.
· Hydrating – The best advice I was ever given was to drink a cup of water at every single hydration station, even if you aren’t thirsty at the time. It’s true, you never know when the next table will be 2+ miles away!
· Sports Drink, GU and other supplements – During my training I don’t use any supplements, so I don’t really use them on race day either. I do keep a couple of Clif shot blocks in my pocket, just in case, but I’ve never really needed them. I personally just don’t want to try something new on race day and risk messing up my stomach. I took two GU packets at the Zooma’s (approx.) 8 mile table, but I just carried them to the end to try later. When training, I drink about a cup of water every 30 minutes, I don’t use Gatorade or any other supplements. During races, if I’m extra sweaty or feel like I need a little sugar, I’ll drink a cup of Gatorade, but I also try to drink two cups of water with it. No real reason, just what I’ve found works for me.
· After race food – Bananas and bagels are too hard for me to digest after a long run, so I usually eat about half an orange right after crossing the finish line. I get a real meal in me an hour or so later. I loved the snack boxes at Zooma (mini whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, hard-boiled egg, cheese) and I may start packing a mini-version of this to eat after 5ks and 10k…at least the eggs and cheese. The protein was a welcome change from the usual bagels and fruit offered.
· Running clothes – A guy at my favourite running store (who wins a lot of races around here) told me that if my shoes fit properly I don’t need to splurge for socks. I tested his theory out and now I just wear my regular old socks .I’m not fancy at all. I wear “comes in a pack of six” socks from Target and never have any problems. I own Wigwam and they are in the rotation, but I cannot tell a difference. I have a few Champion brand sports bras from Target and I always run in a tech-tee, never cotton. For the Zooma, I actually wore a workout tank with built in bra that I got for free from Soma intimates a couple of years ago, because it was the only tank I could find that was clean. I save my Lululemon and other fancy workout wear for the gym, where people will actually notice it! My shoes are pink Asics, but I loved my old Brooks much more. I just buy whatever is cheapest when I get fitted. Maybe sometime Saucony will be on sale when I stop in Luke’s Locker! I love that running is such a cheap sport, the only thing you need to spend money on is shoes, and you can totally get GOOD shoes for under $75.

That was a lot longer than I originally intended, but I hope it helps some new runners! I’m pretty sure I covered everything, but if I didn’t, just send me a note and I’ll email you back.