Friday, May 11, 2012

Fuel for Exercise

I successfully completed my first half marathon (13.1 miles) on May 6th!  I proved to myself the capabilities of a positive mindset and nourishing my body. 

The final days leading up to the marathon, I drank plenty of water throughout the day.  The night before, I had a big bowl of whole-wheat pasta, mixed vegetables, beans, and cheese. 

I surprised myself by waking up to my alarm without pressing the snooze button, especially since it was still dark out, and I am not exactly a “morning person.”

Luckily, the weather was on my side.  Mostly cloudy and in the 60s, my ideal running conditions. 

The first mile was an adjustment.  I started at a slower than my usual pace.  At first, I felt rather claustrophobic, nearly touching someone in every direction.  I was used to running alone or with one other person along an empty path.  But I adjusted and the road widened, so the runners were able to spread out and set their own pace.

After that first warm up mile, I slowly gained speed each mile.  I grabbed water at every other drink station.  At mile 6, I refueled with a banana (yes, I ran 6 miles with a banana in hand… I have yet to find a running belt with a pocket for bananas).  This run was all about me.  I just cleared my mind and enjoyed the unfamiliar scenery.  When I started to feel tired, I drew a smile on my face.  Never underestimate a smile and telling yourself “you can do this!”

My body felt great during the run, the instant I crossed the finish line I already felt sore.  So I went off to the side to stretch.  (This is why yoga complimented my training).

As a beginner in the world of marathon running, I set my goal to simply complete the race.  Finishing in 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 24 seconds, my goal for the next race is less than 2 hours (that’s right, next half marathon).  Once you reach one fitness goal, set another.

*Special thanks to those providing support to the American Diabetes Association and helping me train (especially Tom).

My “Healthy Weighs” for Half Marathon Training
  • Pick a day for a long run.  Start off with 3 or 4 miles and gradually increase the mileage.  Try for at least a 10-mile run 3 weeks before race day.  Then ease up on the miles the last 2 weeks to avoid over exerting your body and maintain your strength for the marathon day.  

  • Avoid the excuse of being “too busy” during the week.  Run one or two shorter runs during the week and allow rest days in between.  Extend your runs as time and your endurance allows.  Motivate yourself, but not beyond what your body is capable.  Listen to your body; do not push through pain.

  • Visit a local specialty running store to invest in a pair of shoes that fit you.  Shoes are essential for preventing injury.

  • Before my workout, I like to eat an apple.  Fruit contains water, sugar, and fiber to give energy for exercise, not to mention the added benefits of fruit such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

  • Within a half hour after training, make sure you eat and drink water!  Even if your goal is for weight loss, your body requires nutrients and needs to replenish electrolytes.  I recommend a serving of low-fat dairy: either yogurt or milk for protein and essential nutrients. 

  • My favorite post-work out drink is dark chocolate almond milk!  Tastes delicious and beats the commercialized protein shakes. J

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