Thursday, October 3, 2013

things i wish i'd known about before my first half marathon

I started thinking about this post
when I got a strange email from my sister this summer.
Her teenage daughter joined her high school cross country team.
Let me just say that a great thing happened with this.
They drop my niece off at practice
then my sister, her husband, and their other two kids
walk, bike, or run
around a loop in a nature preserve
where said practices are.
I love that its become a family thing for them.
Don't you?
Back to her email...
"do real runners wear underwear?"
I had to read it twice.
Then get my glasses to confirm that's what it said.
I wont go into my answer but suffice it to say
I thought maybe I should make a list of things I've learned
or rather products I've found that have helped me
become a better runner.

A little backstory here if you don't mind.
When I started running over a decade ago
I THOUGHT I was a runner.
I had gone through a bad relationship
and during that time I gained a lot of weight.
Think beached whale.
I was big.
And unhappy.
And unhealthy.
I made the tough decision to end that relationship.
A different story for a different day.
I bring it up to tell you where I started.
I had never exercised.
I didn't watch what I ate.
I drank coca colas like it was out of style.
{being from the south there is nothing better
 than a coke in a bottle.
add roasted peanuts to the bottle if you dare.
that's a southern thing too}
Anyway I was probably sixty or seventy pounds heavier.
I know.
Once I ended that relationship
I tended to my heart and my self.
Better food.
Less of it.
And I started running a three mile loop
with a friend after work
around Savannah's famous Forsyth Park...
 Forsyth Park fountain

It was more like a run/walk but hey I was moving.
I lost the weight rapidly.
I'm sure stress played a huge part in that
but I'll take it if I can get it.

Basically I've been running ever since
{except during pregnancy}.
After my pregnancies I was blessed to find a boot camp
through our little town's recreation department
that meets before sun rise so that I can get it done
without interfering with taking care of the kids.
It was here that I met all my running peeps
aka my second family.

The boot camp class meets three days but
then a group of us started meeting on Saturdays.
Then one crazy person suggested to another
"hey why don't we run a half marathon"
and the rest is a hysterical history
of how middle aged people can have fun while trying to be healthy.
Our slogan is "we may not be fast but we're a lot of fun."
Well, that and "will run for wine."
The first half we did many moons ago
we used the Jeff Galloway method.
where you run for three minutes and walk for one.
On repeat.
Each week we built up mileage,
one mile at a time.
Until we ran 13.1 miles.
Repeatedly and consistently.

I tell you all this to say
if I can do this
anybody can do this.
I'm an average girl doing
{I think}
extraordinary things
in my 40's
that in my 20's or 30's
I never would have imagined
myself doing.

So with all this in mind
and the fact
that one sister has signed up for her first half later this year
herewith are my must-haves
for long distance runs
specifically half marathons...

*body glide*

Body glide. Bless you. Seriously an amazingly simple product that really works. Prevents against chafing from shorts or sports bras. And, as a bonus, ladies you can use it to prevent blisters from strappy sandals and heels. #FTW
looks like deodorant but you basically
put this everywhere and anywhere
to prevent chaffing and blisters.
think feet, inner thighs, bra line.
I didn't know I would need this when I started distance running.
It took one a long run without it then a hop in the shower
to figure out "Houston we have a problem."
You will scream in agony at places you didn't know could chafe.
I would never do a long run without this.
Save yourself pain, agony, and some skin.
Get the glide.
Enough said?

wright socks*

via wrightsocks

These are double layered to prevent blisters.
Haven't had a blister since I started wearing them.
There's your sign.
Highly recommend.

kinesio tape*

a couple of my running peeps turned me on to this stuff.
 kt tape

I remember seeing the women volleyball players wearing it
during the summer Olympics but I didn't know what the heck it was
just that they had this weird duct tape all over them.
Well turns out it ain't weird at all...
try life saver.
For my knees at least.
I tape them up according to the instructions
and my knees are golden.
I've ordered it through athleta and
but also recently saw it in my local grocery store
by the health food energy bars.

*hydration belt*

Fuel belt
I love this one by fuel belt.
Some of my peeps have one by ifitness
iFitness Neoprene Hydration Belt (16 oz)
that carries water bottles and an iphone.

Which leads me to an
*electrolyte replacement drink*

If you're running distance you need more than water
In my humble opinion anyway.
I like to put this drink in a couple of my water bottles
either mixed half and half with water
or full strength.
If we're running in the heat then
 I'll try to fill my water bottles the night before
and stick them in the freezer.
They melt as you run so its a nice cold treat
but in all honesty
as it melts the ice clinks as you run
and for some it might be a bit irritating.
Just saying.

*I highly recommend some body in your group carries a cell phone.*
We have had injuries from people falling on roots
and uneven pavement.
We even had one guy hit a tree branch and scrape his eye.
Lucky for him we run with three or four eye doctors.
Just saying...plan ahead.
Emergencies do happen.
We've been super fortunate so far
but I've read about runners being hit by cars etc.
Just saying.
Be prepared.

*energy jelly bellies*

I've tried lots of different things
to get some calories while on the run.
These are my personal favs...


 I can easily grab these from a pouch on my fuel belt
and eat a couple at a time
without stopping.
Impressive I know.

 *running wear*

Hands down my most favorite store on the planet is Athleta.
I get all my running wear here.
ok I get most of my clothes here.
Its true.
Their clothes are comfortable,
well made,
and they have THE best return policy ever.
Try it, don't like it, return it.
Any reason, any time.

like this top currently on sale in some colors :)

they used to make a "gotta have it" run short
that I adore...hoping they bring it back for spring.
this is a close match...
the home run short.
**BTW...they have built in undies.
That was my answer to my sister.
Thanks to Kelly for pointing out
that I had forgotten to answer that mystery :)

 Go Athleta or go home.

*running shoes*

Ok, here's my take.
If possible go to a store that specializes in running shoes.
Try on numerous pairs.
Have them watch you run.
{yes, this is embarrassing but just do it}
Check their return policy to see if you try them out
if you can exchange them for another pair
if you take them out for a spin and they don't feel good.
My shoe store will do this
but be sure and ask yours beforehand.
In normal shoes I wear an 8.
In running shoes I buy one full size bigger
because my feet swell when they run.
In boot camp my shoes have been known to come right off my feet.
Not good so I try to remember my regular size shoes on those days.
I'm embarrassed now that I think about it
to tell you how many pairs of running shoes
I have that I alternate through.
One pair I save specifically for Saturday long runs.
You might try going up just half a size if you're going to do long distance.
Also write the date you get them on the inside label if you can
so you'll know about when to replace them. favorite go to shoe
Mizuno's Wave Inspire

*foam roller*

highly recommend getting one of these.
the foam roller is your friend.
It helps stretch your sore muscles like nobody's business.
Get one.
Your muscles will love you for it.

 I think that's about it for the things I love.
If you have any to add to the list
feel free to leave it in the comments section.
 Happy Running!

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