Three years ago I never ran; not because I didn't have time or enjoy it but I preferred to work out by lifting in the gym. I really didn’t understand the benefits to cardio. Three years ago I also met my now girlfriend whose main method of exercise is running... so in an effort to find more activities we could do together I reluctantly started running, three years later we just ran our first Half Marathon!!
Close the Gap is beginners guide to running but also a play on word for anyone wishing to get closer to achieving their health and fitness goals which is a developing concept. I'll just focus on the running aspect in this post mainly preparing for 5k races to marathons in a few simple concepts.
Pace: Anyone can walk a mile, most can run a mile but the thought of completing a marathon is extremely intimidating for the vast majority. For these people I promise You Can Do It!! The key is to find the Pace between walking and sprinting that you are comfortable to maintain the desired distance. Most people I talk to get exhausted early in the race...
THP Fit Tip #5: Don't peak too soon; start slow and finish strong!!
There are tons of tips on setting your pace, my recommendation is to take your mile time and add 25% for the average mile time ie if you are comfortable running an 8 minute mile your target average mile should be around 10 minutes. Most longer races have pace setters to follow otherwise running watches and even the new ipod nano can track your pace.
Training: If you can run a mile you can run a marathon!! Now I can't promise you won't be super sore the next day if your muscles aren't use to long distances, even if you stretch. Hundreds of training models exist so pick one that suits your schedule. The more training the better!!
Breathing: My suggestion is to relax do what comes natural however deep breaths, through your mouth, pushing out your belly, and standing upright will maximize oxygen intake.
Stride: For some reason I tend to get close to the front when running on treadmills but if I step back and lengthen my strides I go faster with less energy. Same rules apply for races; use your calves and push off your back leg. I see a gap and want to close it!!
Food: First off simple foods for you body to break down like whole grain pasta, fruits and vegetables low in fiber, as fiber can cause cramps, should only be consumed within 12 hours of the race. Prior to that avoid fatty or processed food and make sure to drink plenty of water!!
I had a pasta dinner with tomato sauce, chicken, and asparagus prior to the race; I estimate the meal was about 800 Calories, this will vary pending on your Metabolic Rate. For breakfast I had a piece of whole grain bread with peanut butter only.
Most important point of all is to believe in yourself and have fun! Cause what's the point otherwise? Bright colors, headbands and high fives are highly encouraged!!