How to run a half: running mama's guide.

"Can you get a bus for part of it?"

No, you can't get a bus. You have to do the distance. That's what the fun part is. So, what's the plan? How do I run a half marathon? First of all, why would I even want to?on't bother if you're not motivated. Why would you? But if you've started running and you really like it, and you think you might want to run a race, here's how:

A IS FOR ATTITUDE: you gotta have it. No attitude, no race. See this lady here?
She has attitude. She's been saying to herself, ya, I can do this.

B IS FOR BEST: here's the key - when you run, whether it's a mile, a 5 k, or an ultra, you are running your Personal Best. That means that you are not competing against anyone except yourself. Don't kid yourself, you're not an elite, and if you're reading this article, you'll probably never be one. So, when you run, you want to do YOUR VERY BEST. That is, your best for the day. The best you can even though you are tired, feeling sad, hungover, in a rush to get to work, whatever. That's the BEAUTY of the BEAST.

C IS FOR CLOTHING. Find some clothes you like to run in, and wear them. Essentials: good shoes (see "S"); a good bra if you need one; socks that don't chafe; comfy underwear. If you're running in the heat, wear clothing that lets you sweat. In the cold, check this out:

Remember, you don't need the latest most expensive gear! You should save your pennies for a good pair of shoes, and that's it. I've picked up some great running gear at my local thrift shop!

D is for Distance. Whether you're running your first mile, your first five k, or your first marathon, you will put every ounce of effort into it and get the same sense of satisfaction from it. I remember when I ran my first five kilometers without walking. I was so proud! This May I hope to run my first Marathon ... more on that to come ... maybe one day I will run the original Marathon!

E is for effort. It ain't always easy being a runner. Take today, for instance. I was supposed to run with my buddies at 6:30. I really want to get this post finished - and I came home from work to lots of unfinished housework, and I have to cook dinner and shop and ... will I make the effort to tie on my shoes and run? I hope so!

F is for Fartleks. Basically, this funny word means that you play around with your speed. So when you are doing a long run, change it around by running at full speed for a short distance. It helps your body build strength and adjust to different paces.

G is for Goals - what are your running goals today? This week? What is your ultimate running goal? I would love to run an ultra one day ... Figure out your goal and work towards it, one step at a time.
H is for Hamstrings. You should stretch after a run, if you feel tightness or you are healing from a previous injury. Here is my favourite ten-minute post run stretch: the Mogul Muncher.

I is for Injuries. They happen! Running is a little unusual for the human body, especially on sidewalks. I've had an IT band issue, and some Plantar's Fasciitis. I sorted my IT band - I did exercises that strengthened my hips and that did the trick. The Fasciitis, well, it's a struggle and I just have to be careful. You will have your own injury that haunts you - do your research, go to a sports clinic if you can, and most importantly, REST when you are in pain. I also use Arnica homeopathic tablets or cream (Boiron).

J is for Joy: You gotta love it! If you're not enjoying it, do something else. I'm not saying that you have to love that feeling at 2k when you wish you had slept better, or at 14 k when you feel you're going too slow, or at 5k when you really have to pee. But if you're not having fun overall, then running's not for you. Get happy!

K is for Knees. Be careful with your knees, and if you start getting pain, look into it right away. ITBS will give you a very specific pain on the outside of your knee. Other knee injuries can be related to ill-fitting shoes or poor form. Don't run through the pain! Have it looked at by someone who knows what they're doing, and then follow their instructions. For the immediate pain, I use ice, rest, ice cream (to feel better), and long hot bath soaks. 

L is for Long Runs. Long runs are a must when you are training for a half marathon or more. Do a long run every week. If you don't have a training plan, thats ok but make sure you do one long run every week, until about two weeks before the race, and reduce your distances. You don't have to run longer than 22 kilometers but do try to do that at least once, about a month our from your race.

M is for Medals. I love getting my medal!

N is for Nike, the goddess of victory. Running isn't about victory over other people - ok, it would be amazing to be first. At least first in my age group... sigh ... But the real Victory is over yourself. 

O is for Orgasms, of course. Does your sex life get better when you run? Start running and find out!

P is for Pee. Yes, it's one of the very rare times when I wish I was a boy. They can pee anywhere. I have finally figured out how not to have to pee during a half marathon: hydrate gradually through the week before your race. Drink 3-4 litres of water a day, more if its hot weather. Don't drink too much the morning of. Don't drink coffee the morning of. And practice control. Just tell yourself you actually don't have to pee. Forget about it. You are usually losing enough water through sweating that in fact you don't really have to pee. If you do, try going commando or wear pants, shorts or a skirt with built-in briefs so you don't waste precious race time with your knickers in a twist.

Q is for Quality. If you discover that running has become yet another chore that you have to stick into your busy day, then stop for a while and pick it up again (soon!!) when you feel less stressed about it. Running time should be quality time.

R is for Rest. If you love to run, that doesn't mean you have to overdo it. Your body needs to rest. Take at least one day a week and rest - don't run - especially if you are an older runner like me (well I'm not ninety yet but 61 counts!).

S is for Shoes. Find yourself a good pair of running shoes - get an expert to help you. I ran with Minimalist for a few years and loved them! Then my feet started to hurt a little and I went with Sayonara Wave ... but you have to choose the shoes that feel good for you.

T is for Training. Find a training plan if you want to run a race. There are lots of them everywhere on the internet. Runkeeper has some good ones that are free.  If you don't want to "train", then don't! Just run to your heart's content.

U is for Us. I am so happy I have running buddies. We run together, stick together, and have fun together. We talk about work, life, relationships, kids, or we just run ... and then there are my running buddies who don't actually run. They just meet me at the finish line!

V is for Victory!!!

W is for Water. So important to drink water! Every day, even if you're not a runner. But if you're running, make sure you drink 8-10 glasses a day, and if you run for longer than an hour make sure you carry water or you know where the drinking fountains are on your route (not if its below zero ... )

X is for X-country. Also known as trail running. This is super fun, and a completely different type of running. Remember to wear good shoes, know where you're going, and stay safe.

Y is for You! Just put your shoes on, open the door, and step outside. Its a wonderful world out there!

Z is for the Zen of running. When I run, I feel calm. Its my way of meditating. I hope it can become yours too!


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