"I don't know what I'm doing. All I know is I don't wanna stop. All fired up, I'm gonna go till I drop." - I Don't Wanna Stop by Ozzy Osbourne
People are often surprised and amazed to find out I have run a half marathon. Heck, I'm surprised and amazed! I'm not exactly thin or in the best shape, but my goal is to get stronger and healthier doing one of the few "sports" that I really enjoy - running. With any luck, I'll be running my second half marathon in Nashville in September.
The idea of strapping on running shoes and pounding the pavement is intimidating to many, so here are the things I learned, and am still learning, in order to have success.
1. Start slow. Mix jogging with walking for as long as you need to, but push the amount of jogging a little longer each day, and try to go faster gradually. Going too hard or too fast hurts! You can get shin splints from training too hard, too fast. They are actually little micro-fractures. Don't go there.
2. Find a trail or route you like. I really don't like running in my neighborhood. Too many barking dogs, no sidewalks, lots of people sitting on their porches staring at me, people driving by yelling at me. Ugh. So I go to a park that has a 1-mile track that I can safely run. Plus it's a pretty park thanks to the city horticulturalist.
3. Hydrate. If you run less than an hour, water should be good enough. But if you run for more than an hour or if you sweat profusely, be sure to drink a sports drink to properly hydrate. I didn't get enough of that yesterday, plus it was really hot, and I ended up dehydrated and dizzy and was unable to run this morning. :(
4. Stretch. Walk for about 5 minutes, then stop (I have a bench on my trail at exactly the right spot) and take a few minutes to stretch your legs thoroughly. Then, when you're done with your run, stretch some more. You'll be so much less sore the next day. In fact, if you do it right, you won't be sore at all. Sometimes, if I feel fairly tight after getting home, I'll pop in a yoga DVD and do that to make sure I'm completely stretched and relaxed.
I'll give you some more of my own tips tomorrow. In the meantime, here are a couple of links with advice for beginners.