On Saturday I ran my first ever Half Marathon in Indianapolis. No, I’ve never really run any considerable distance before more than 2 miles and yes, it was difficult. But the reason why I ran made it easier to do being that I’m not a seasoned runner. This whole experience was challenging and I learned a lot along the way that I wanted to share with you all. These are in no particular order and I’m sure as soon as I hit “publish” there will be more things that pop in my head so this list might be ever-growing and changing.
What I learned from my first half-marathon (and maybe my only half-marathon):
- stretching is almost as important as the running itself – I dealt with quite a few weeks of injury during my training. I’d venture to say that almost 50% of my training time I was under some sort of pain. I learned near the end of my training that stretching really is so important. On the days where I took time to stretch for an extended period of time, my joint pain lessened. When I added a foam roller to the mix to get the muscles that I couldn’t quite stretch on my own, it helped even more.
- it’s easier to run long distances with people cheering you on – before the run I heard people say to start slow because the adrenaline and people will make you start too fast. Boy was this the truth. I did start too fast but even in the times where my body needed me to walk, having those around me that were strangers but took time to cheer me on meant so much. And it’s motivating when you see people passing you to keep on moving too.
- essential oils, epsom salts and ice are our friends – my body was SO mad at me on Saturday night after the race. Specifically my knees. Ice was and is my best friend now. So are the essential oils that I used (PanAway and Dorado Azul) both topically and in my epsom salt bath. For the epsom salt bath I used 2 cups of an epsom salt/baking soda combination with 6 drops of essential oils and I soaked for 30 minutes. It did wonders to soothe and loosen my muscles and joints.
- don’t decide the fate of your next run on the day of your run – as soon as I crossed the finish line I said “never again.” Now that it’s over and my body is feeling better, I’m learning to never say never. God could call me to run again and raise money for clean water or sex trafficking or something else. I might want to run a half through Disney World. Time will tell. Right now I’m feeling like I’ll stick to 5K’s but never say never.
- split the run into small milestones to avoid “the wall” – when I started the half-marathon, I new that my parents and kids would be cheering me on at mile 5. I looked forward to that. I kept counting down the miles until I knew I could get a high five from them. After mile 5, I set other milestones for myself to keep myself going.
- listen to your body, to a point – the mental game with running is so hard. There were times during my training that I just wasn’t feeling it. My body wasn’t hurting, but my mind told me to walk. I had to will myself many times to keep going. There were other times where I simply had to listen to my body though and walk or skip a training day in order to prevent further injury. And you know what, it was okay! Skipping a training day (or sometimes a whole week) was what I needed to do in order to allow my body to heal so that I had a better chance to do 13.1 miles when I had to. You need to listen to your body but sometimes you just have to tell your mind to shut up.
If you’ve run a half- or full-marathon – what other things have you learned? Leave a comment and let us know!