You’re more likely to find me at the barre or at a HIIT class than you would pounding the pavement. Sprints and intervals are my jam, running for longer than five minutes? Not so much. So when I signed up for the Nike+ Run Club Women’s Half Marathon in July, I knew it was going to be a big challenge.
Running any type of long distance race, whether it is 5km or a full marathon, is more than just a goal to tick off on your bucket list. It’s a challenge of the body and mind that tests your strength and determination. Nike is hosting this women’s half marathon to empower women to “revel in the power of the global female fitness community.” Awesome, let’s do it! With a Nike Run coach, eight-week training plan and a nutritionist, I am ready to knuckle down and knock out this race.
SLOW AND STEADY
Starting to train for a long-distance race can be really daunting, and getting set into a routine and sticking to it can be difficult. According to my coach, Sam Strutt, it’s all about consistency and having people around you to support you. “Every runners goal should be to strive for consistency. It is easier to stay consistent if you have others around you when you train."
I start my training plan of speed runs, strength workouts and weekly long runs, and fit them into my fitness routine pretty smoothly. Until I decide to tackle my first long run. My goal was to go a bit longer than my plan suggested and hit 5km in a pretty decent time. By 2km I was just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, and by 3km I was done. I walked home feeling pretty disappointed with a huge hit to my confidence. I went too hard, too fast, too soon.
So now I try to think of each training run as a little goal. Once you achieve it keep hitting the next one until you reach your dream number. It may take weeks or months, it’s all about building your fitness for the big race, training is not the race. “You might be taking up the challenge of completing a half marathon in two months but today's run is a 4km run. Tick that goal, be happy about it and move forward,” says Sam.
I learned pretty quickly that slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to marathon training. It’s about identifying your body’s limits and level of mental strength and pushing through again and again until you can achieve more. When you think you can’t keep going just keep telling yourself you can, and if that still doesn’t work find a banging tune to keep motivated – the WH Ultimate Running playlist on Spotify never fails.
Within a few weeks from my epic fail run I knocked out 12km at a pretty consistent pace by following the training plan and slowly building my endurance levels. Another word of advice, always cool down. You might just want to flop down on the couch and not move ever again but before that do five to ten minutes of easy walking and some stretches. Your body will thank you later.
EAT ALL THE THINGS
Ever since I started my training for the half I can’t stop eating. Legit, I am hungry all time. Our bodies are pretty rad and adaptable, but they need to be fed and nourished to perform. You’re not going to be able to sustain a long-distance race if you don’t give your body the nutrients it needs.
Carbs are your friend, so is protein. Oh, and iron, lots of iron. My nutritionist Rosie Mansfield suggests experimenting with different foods, energy gels and sports drinks to figure out what fuels your body and keeps it at its peak during the long training runs. And the easiest way to increase your nutrient content? Upping your veggie intake.
“Start batch cooking vegetables and cut them up into an omlette, put some spices on them, do simple things to make it exciting, jazz it up,” she says. Too easy, time for turmeric spiced broccoli, yum.
Four weeks out from the half and I am knuckling down for my last few weeks of training and prepping for the race: wearing in my shoes, stocking up on carbs and protein and investing in a decent pair of headphones. Each session is a stepping stone to the big race race. “Tick enough goals and before you know it you'll be physically and mentally ready to tackle that half marathon,” says Sam. #letsdothis
Training for a race? Just upping your running game? Tag #WHruns and let us know how you’re going! The Nike+ Run Club Women’s Half Marathon Sydney is part of the Nike Women Victory Tour and is on July 3 at Sydney Olympic Park.