I’m 7 weeks into my half marathon training, and it’s going well! No one can be more surprised about this than I am—as a reminder, I am fairly new to running (I’ve been at it for about 8 months now, after many failed attempts in the past), and have never considered myself athletic in the slightest. It’s pretty exciting to be enjoying something athletic for basically the first time ever, and making progress at it to boot.
I’m trying hard not to look farther than a few days ahead on my training program. Even 7 weeks in, I’m still panicking at the thought of 13 miles. It just sounds insane. INSANE. But if I only look at the current week, it feels manageable. Run 13 miles? Hold me, I’m scared. But a 7 mile run? Well, I ran 6 miles last Saturday and lived to tell the tale, so I can probably pound out 1 more. Baby steps.
Fitting the runs into my week hasn’t been as difficult as I anticipated, but it definitely requires some planning in advance—figuring out when Jeff will be home so I can run outside without the kids, or making sure I’ve got my day planned around fitting a run in on the treadmill during nap/quiet time. I’ve skipped 2 runs over the past 7 weeks when I couldn’t find time for them . . . but they were shorter runs of 2-3 miles each, so they didn’t feel like a huge loss.
I’ve learned that I definitely prefer to run in the mornings. I’ve had to run in the evenings a few times when I couldn’t make time during the day, and without fail, those runs are agonizing. Side cramps, loping along at a snail’s pace, absolutely no energy. Terrible. Not an evening runner, that is for dang sure.
I know I should do some cross-training, and especially add some core strengthening to my routine (the interwebs tell me this is important, and I always believe the interwebs), but I haven’t been doing any of this yet. On the days I don’t run, I don’t do any exercise at all—I’ve just been feeling so darn proud of myself for running that I haven’t felt motivated to add anything else in. It’s on the to-do list.
I’ve been really surprised by how vastly different runs often feel from one day to the next. Last week, for instance, I ran the longest distance of my life so far: 6 miles. And it went so well—it was a challenge, but it felt comfortable and manageable and I felt great afterwards. But another run that same week was only 2 miles, and it was terrible. Every step felt like torture, I could hardly breathe, and I swear it felt miles farther than the 6 miler.
The view on one of my recent runs—not bad, not bad at all!
Some things that I’ve been enjoying during runs:
1) Colorful workout clothes. It may sound silly, but having some fun things to wear really makes me more excited to head out for a run. I haven’t bought a ton of running clothes—it’s sort of a wear one outfit, wash the other situation—but the majority of what I own is bright and colorful, and it keeps things feeling fun and exciting. All of my running clothes so far are from Walmart and Ross—I’m sure they’re not the best quality ever, but I’ve been happy with it all!
2) Map My Run. You’ve probably already heard of this app, but on the off chance that you haven’t, it tracks your route, time, and pace on your runs, and it’s free. You can search for routes in your area, connect with friends to see each others’ runs, and it will even create new custom routes for you. My only complaint: I wish it could give me turn-by-turn directions for routes I’m not familiar with. It’s frustrating to have to check the itty bitty map on my phone to see if I’m on track, and where I need to turn, so I mainly stick with routes I already know rather than use their route creator.
3) Charity Miles. I just discovered this app a few weeks ago—like Map My Run, it uses GPS on your phone to track your distance, and the miles you run, bike, or walk are supported by corporate sponsors who give donations to a charity of your choice based on your mileage. I’ve found that it always shortchanges me on my distance (it consistently shows my total distance as shorter than Map My Run does, even though I use them together—sometimes it’s a small difference, but once it was off by a half mile!). Except for that little issue, I’ve loved using it on my runs. It’s a little extra motivation to get a run in, plus a confidence boost when you finish and see your donation.
4) Pandora. I usually listen to audiobooks while I run (Harry Potter got me through many, many weeks of running), but I’ve been between books for a while now and haven’t found one I’m super excited about yet (if you have a suggestion, I’m all ears!). I’ve been listening to Pandora on runs lately, and I’ve really been enjoying it. None of the boredom of listening to the same handful of songs over and over, and if I get bored with a station mid-run, it’s great to be able to easily switch to something totally different. My favorite station recently is based on Shake It Off. Don’t hate.
Runners, I’d love to hear some things that motivate you or keep your runs feeling fresh and exciting!