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Run Joe, Run: Part 1 (Half Marathon Preparation)

2004 Marine Corps Marathon

Original Image Source 

So as I have mentioned before in the update, I will be taking part in a Half Marathon(Approximately 21 KM or 13 Miles). at the end of this month outside of Kuwait and will be training for it here in Kuwait. A half marathon is beyond any distance I have already tried whilst running out by the gulf or on a “mamsha” but I figured that if I didn’t push myself towards it, I would never do so. I have occasionally ran  a few 10Kms out on the Gulf as leisurely fitness training. However, this time I’ll be up against competition and the clock…as well as my willpower to persevere and finish the race. Click the jump to find out what I’m doing to prepare for this Half-Marathon.

First of all, I’d have to change my diet. I have been pretty good with my diet. It’s currently not so bad of a diet but I need to completely cut out all junk foods (not even going to allow myself the “one guiltless cheat day”). I’m going to have to eat a lot more carbs for energy. Of course I’ll have to eat the right kind of carbs.

Secondly, I’ve set up a schedule for training. This schedule will look at 2-3 runs throughout the work week that will look at varying distances between 4 miles and 8  miles. During the weekend I’ll be pushing myself to do one long rung that will cover a minimum of 7 miles to as much as I can possibly push. The goal is to reach a 13 mile run by the end of the month. These distances will change but the range should ideally stay the same in order to achieve my goals. This will be couples with my regular football games that I play 2-3 times a week. The football games will act as a form of interval training (spring…slowdown…sprint…slowdown etc). Finally, I’ll have to rework my gym schedule to fit that of a running program. This means more focus on core muscles and leg muscles. The leg muscles will definitely need to be very light weights at high repetitions.

Thirdly,  the mental game. Running is all mental. You’ve heard it before… “I get so bored of running” or something similar to that. I think people who get bored of running or hate running are either “heavy smokers” or people who just don’t know how to enjoy the great weather and be active (in other words, lazy). I find running very theraputic, but the problem is it is also very mental. When you start to feel some discomfort, you tend to go into a mental battle thinking of all things like “how much longer is this going to last?” “how much further do I have?” “should I slow down or go faster?” “am I out of my league trying this distance?”. My running partner and very good friend has told me “After a few miles, it’s not about how much physical pain you can take but how much mental pain you can take”. Not a direct quote but something of the sort.

The problem is, how does one over come these mental aspects (and some physical)? Well many ways and I’ve compiled a list that I wish to share with potential runners. I also share this as a reminder of what I SHOULD be doing. Sometimes you know what to do but don’t exactly follow your own advice. So here is a checklist for myself and all of you out there.

  • In the world of running, I am King.
    Self sabotage is your worst friend but tends to happen alot, especially amongst beginners such as myself. Everytime I feel that discomfort in my abs, lack of breath, mental strain or any negative energy I’m just going to tell myself “In the world of running, I am KING!” Believing in yourself is the first step to success. Forget about beating a time, just think about finishing the distance without injury. Time will improve over time…funny how that works, dunnit?
  • Aim higher.
    I’m currently at 10KM and struggling at times with it. This race was split into 5Km/10KM/Half Marathon/Marathon. I chose the half marathon because I want to be able to run 10KMs regularly and get fitter and fitter. So I figured, I’d play David and fight Golaith…or Jerry vs. Tom, however you like to look at it. I plan to finish this race…I don’t care if everyone is done and gone…I want to be able to cross that finish line. This does so much for your mentally, no matter what time. No matter if a granny beats you. Finishing a half marathon is an accomplishment within itself.
  • Monitor your progress.
    I’m not going to do it during a run as it sabotages your mind once you look down and think “holy crap!! I’ve only done a mile in 15 minutes?!” A HalfMarathon is a stretch…it’s not about gunning it as you would in a 5KM or a 10KM. It’s about finding your comfortable pace and going for it. Now speed and these things come in to play but if you are able to monitor at least one variable such as distance (for my case) then you’ll be able to know where you stand. I use the nike+ gps app on my iPhone and I love it. Of course I’m going to have to keep it hidden during my runs and not pay attention to it until afterwards. Hopefully if the numbers are not too embarrassing I’ll share some of it with you all ;).
  • Prevent Injuries Through Knowing Your Body.
    You shouldn’t stop if you’re feeling discomfort whilst training, but you should definitely stop if you’re feeling a muscle pull or what you think may lead to injury. This actually takes more experience to know what kind of discomfort or pain is just a simple muscle being worked out hard or if it is a muscle pulling and needing rest. Before race day I plan to take a full 4-5 days rest so I’ll be fully rejuvenated and rested before the race. Also, Shin Splints and Blisters are a very common race problem. To avoid blisters I believe using a petroleum jelly or some sort of lubrication on your ankle areas or whatever you’re most prone to blister to avoid any sort of blistering from occurring. Also wearing the right shoes for your foot type, the right fit, and breaking them in properly prior to running is important. Shin splints are annoying, I’ve had them several times. Some say these Reebok Rezigs help avoid shin splints and some say gradual increase in your mileage will help. I say try not to strike the floor too hard and just run in your comfort zone. This should help prevent shin splints.
  • Sleep.
    Rest is probably the most important factor after diet and actually training. Your body will need rest in order to function to it’s potential. Rest along with good nutrition will help your body cope with longer distances and definitely help out with fatigue problems. This is a problem I’ll need to remedy.
  • Time.
    No not my race times. Finding more time to run, walk or bicycle. In Kuwait, we do most of our transportation by car. Now that I’ve got my sisters old bike fixed (I know what you’re thinking, I’m straight as a post…don’t worry) I feel it’s only right to use it more often over driving. The only problem is that living in an inner city area makes it difficult and that the country has a serious lack of biking areas (lanes, ample sized sidewalks for people to bike on etc). However, it’s no excuse. I feel that I will be doing my best to find time to run, walk, bike, and even swim more often. With my current schedule, I’ll be swamped with things to do and this training program but I think trying to squeeze in an hour or two here n there in my schedule to bike or walk to places would significantly help my cardiovascular system. In turn, helping my stamina for this half marathon.
  • Love it.
    It’s no joke. You need to find something you love to do in order to do it right. I do love the peace of mind and serenity I get from jogging. It’s an intense work out that I find myself constantly thinking about different aspects of life. I distract myself from the discomfort and pain during certain parts of runs by just getting lost in my brain and I love it. I do think too much and talk too much. Therefore, doing that to myself in my head whilst running seems to be extremely therapeutic. Also, running with a partner gives you sometime to talk to and enjoy the beautiful weather/scenery with.

All in all, there is much more that I can do to prepare. However, I find these things to be the key aspects I must focus on. Hopefully I’ll have great news for you all and hopefully I’ll not only finish the half marathon but exceed my expectations of what position I’ll finish in. Right now I’m expecting to finish last behind all the 80 year olds. However, who knows what will actually happen.

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