We hope this will be the page you visit for that quick answer!
We are NOT doctors, or considered experts in the field. We do have decades of personal experience, a continual desire to learn and improve, many hours of reading and talking with those more expert than ourselves, and a true desire to encourage YOU! Our prayer is that through our sharing you can learn from us and not need to endure the pain of a blister or overuse injury for yourself!
Many of you have asked, “What should I be doing during the week?” “How often should I be working out?” Cross training- It would be okay, even advantageous, to start some mid-week cross training.
On your rest days, you can cross train presuming the exercise uses different muscles than running or walking. Cycling, swimming and elliptical machines are all great exercises to do to help work lactic acid through sore muscles or keep different muscles active. Make sure you are doing some activities which work your core. Do the plank, crunches, ball work, what ever works the core.
Your core muscles help keep the body in alignment while your are out there on the road. A strong core helps keep you out there longer without injury. Make sure you are getting at least 3 days of running or walking in per week, in addition to our Saturdays.
A simple rule of thumb for water consumption is to drink half your body weight in ounces. So a 140 pound woman should consume 70 oz. of water each day. If the day includes strenuous activity or a long run, you will want to increase the fluid intake. Sports drinks may be coming to mind and that question will be addressed in another category. They do have benefits at longer distances.
The general guideline for water consumption while running / walking is a sip or two every five minutes, when going over 20 minutes. That said, hydration actually occurs the day before your longer distance. Remember to re-hydrate after a long distance too.
The goal we have for each of you is to have your own water belt device by the time we hit 6 miles. Start asking question of friends that have then, read on-line, borrow one if you can. Remember, Portland Running Company, Road Runner Sport (in Tualatin) and REI are all nearby sources. Shop around until you find one that will work for you!
Something you don’t often hear about when starting an exercise program is the mental training involved. Just like we are training our muscles to endure longer distances, we need to train our minds too! Let’s mentally set ourselves up for success! For some, this is going to be the longest, most intense thing you have done. Congratulations!!! You will be awesome! What you need you to do is commit to that success.
Make the decision ahead of time (now) that you WILL show up on Saturdays and put the miles in. You WILL talk yourself through the long walks with positive, encouraging messages like, “I can do this,” “Look how amazing I am that I am even out here,” “I am going to feel soooo good when this is done” Leave yourself no room for quitting. It can get a little grueling being out there hours on end. That is one reason we are training in a group. The conversations help pass the time and we can encourage each other. Make new friends; we are all in this together!
A mid-route fueling option is similar to sports drinks, it delivers important fuel to the muscles. It differs in that these substances deliver more carbohydrates for muscle food. Both are necessary for optimum muscle output. It can take some getting used to before your system adjusts to eating while exercising but you will feel a difference. There are several forms available. Clif blox and Sports beans are two types of fuel. They can be taken before, during and after a long run or walk.
There are post-event recovery powders available. Sometimes that is a nice and easy option for getting your protein and carbs back in. Just make sure you get something within that first 30 minutes, a snack, a bar, a shake, something. And remember to re-hydrate!
Rule of Thumb:
At an hour of exercise and you need to have a sports drink.
Exercise for more than an hour and you need to add (in addition) a fuel source.
You will want a gel or gummy/bar portion every 4 miles or 45 minutes. That looks like one at mile 4 and 8, roughly, during a half marathon. You can take one at the start if you would like, as well. It can also be used as a good post run refuel is you don’t have any other source of snack.
The rule of thumb for distance training is to shoot for mileage on the long walk/run and focus on minutes during the week. That translates into getting 2 to 3 mid-week workouts in for 30 and no more than 45 minutes per session. Cross training is important and we will address that soon. However, critical to distance training is what is referred to as “specificity training”. Put simply, that means to train by doing what you want to accomplish. If you want to run or walk a half marathon, you actually have to practice running, or walking.
If you are:
- just Getting Started or Back Into It: Start out with adding 2 mid-week training runs or walks. Easy does it. Try to get at least 30 minutes accomplished each time out. There is no need to go more than 45 minutes. Seriously. In this case, more is not better. The number 1 mistake is over training. We have a long way to go so the key is to pace yourself, not only while you are out there but during the season as a whole.
- Seasoned Runner/Walker (been doing it for years): If this is your first half, but you’ve been running for years, your greatest temptation may be to think you can push it a bit. Listen to your body! Trust the training plan! Over training will bring injuries. You can incorporate more cross training but make sure you get at least 2, preferably 3 mid-week runs or walk in, for no more than 45 minutes. This will be especially important as our Saturday mileage increases. Your body will need the time to recover.
- If you have completed multiple halves, then you know the drill. Resist the urge to over train, but you may be ready to push yourself a bit. Add cross training if you do not already. Even though you are seasoned, you still don’t need to go more than 3 times mid-week and keep it at or under 45 minutes. This is important for muscle rest / recovery, especially as we increase our mileage.
- Always walk / run facing traffic. There are lots of reasons for this and some of them are: being more visible to oncoming traffic (cars and bikes), being able to react to their actions and to more easily avoid abduction.
- Make eye contact with drivers before entering a cross-walk. Be especially careful with this when crossing where a driver an turn right on a red light. They most often look left, not right, before making this turn. How many of us have done the “left hand on the hood, jump and spin” move?!!
- Consider only one ear bud when plugged in. It is important to be aware of your surroundings; people, pets, cars, and be able to take evasive action if necessary.
- Make sure someone knows where you are. A good habit is to let someone know when you leave, what route you are taking and when you expect to be back. We put considerable trust in our cell phones, which is OK, and we need to prepare “just in case” our battery dies, or we drop our phone and it doesn’t work, or we splay on the sidewalk and our phone flies into the road and is run over by the oncoming car!! You get the idea, let’s avoid the worst case scenario.
- Wear reflective clothing / lights / blinkers / carry glow sticks from dusk on. We can see the cars and it is easy to assume they can see us. Let’s make sure they do!
YES, you need shoes specifically for walking or running. Someone fitting you for these shoes will use terms pertaining to flat feet, supination, pronation… there is a whole separate language for taking care of your feet when you undertake such a big goal! It is well worth the investment to avoid sore feet, or worse, injury. If you got shoes for last year’s training, it is time for a new pair. They may still feel comfortable, but shoes DO have a shelf life (about 400 miles).
Shoot – I’m getting sick
I’m getting sick – can I still train? Maybe.
If it is a head cold, then yes. Keep moving, but be ready to take it down a notch. There have actually been studies done that show an increase in white blood cell production with moderate exercise. The goal is to aim for moderate. Too hard a work out and you may end up exhausted and the cold can take over.
Chest cold, try it but be ready to head to the couch. We all know how important it is to be able to breathe!! Our muscles need the oxygen and we don’t want the exhaustion component that goes along with oxygen shortage.
If it is stomach, then generally no. Take a few days off. It is difficult for the body to perform at the level we expect when fuel and hydration may be jeopardized by stomach / intestinal misbehavior.
Rule of thumb: neck and above, go for it – in moderation. Below the neck, rest, preferably with a good book.
Read the ingredients! Avoid high sugar drinks such as Gatorade. The amount and type of sugar they put in Gatorade is not productive. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup- contrary to the recent commercial- it is NOT the same as sugar and certainly not better for you!! Your body cannot break it down and use it the way it needs to for performance.
Options- what you want to look for is “electrolyte” replacement checking the sodium and potassium levels. This is the one situation where you want sodium to replace what is sweat out.
Luna makes a powder in several flavors (REI, formulated specifically for women)
Knudson makes several flavors of a recovery drink (health food section of Fred Meyer)
Gu makes a powder (REI)
Heed makes a powder and I think might have a liquid drink (Portland Running Company)
You will need to experiment with a drink to find one that works for you and then stick with it. When race day comes you want your body to be familiar and used to whatever you are using. The electrolyte replacement will help with fatigue and muscle performance. It is important!
It may be tempting to think of the actual walking or running as the event of the day so when you are finished you are done. Not so. The ease and lack of injury on your next workout attempt is dependent upon how well you stretch when you finish the present workout. If you allow the muscles to remain in a tightened state, you are more likely to feel labored or sustain injury the next time out. Take a few minutes to reward yourself for the effort you just put into a long run/walk.
A massage therapist and a sports trainer both said the same thing: “people need to stretch right” and “the lack of stretching is the root of most injuries” so… the “right” way to stretch is to take a warm muscle to the point where you start to feel the stretch and then BACK OFF just a hair. Hold the position until you feel the muscle relax. Breathing while you hold this position brings oxygen to the muscles. Once you feel them relax then you can stretch further, to the point you feel it and back off a hair and hold. You will probably be able to do this several times before you get a nice good stretch in any given muscle. This takes time and can not be rushed. Think of it as an investment in your longevity of comfort.
Calves- find something to prop your toes up on and lean into the stretch, with toes up and heel down.Hamstrings- bend over toward to the toes- not necessary to touch your toes- and just let your upper body hang. This should be sufficient to feel a stretch in the back of your legs.
Quads- this one requires some individual preference. The typical way to stretch the quads is to lift the foot back, hold it with the opposing hand and slightly push your pelvis forward. A few words of caution: if done improperly you can tweak the knee. Make sure the alignment of your hip, knee, and foot is straight. No twisting of the knees. It doesn’t take much movement of the pelvis to feel the stretch. Another form of this stretch is to get down on all fours (on your back) and push your stomach up to form a table type position.
Hip flexors- there are 2 stretches:
1. Sitting on the ground place one leg out in front of you with the other folded over it, so your knee is up near your face and the foot is on the outside of the straight leg. If the right knee is up, take you left arm and place it over the knee and twist toward the right knee. Do this on both legs.
2. In addition to, not in place of the first stretch, find something to lean against (not a person). Step several feet away from the object depending on how tall you are and stand sideways. With the leg closest to the object, cross the other leg over in front to support yourself and lean into the object. It should give you a nice long stretch from the knee through the hip; you may or may not feel it but it works. It hits the IT band and helps avoid knee pain.
WHAT TO WEAR
Tip One: Remember to layer. The mornings are cold but you will warm up within a few miles. The best advice I have read (Runner’s World, I think) is to take the outside temperature and add 20 degrees. If Saturday morning is to be 43 degrees, dress as you would for 63 degrees. If it is raining, some prefer a cap to keep the rain off the face. If it is raining, some add a layer, as the wetness will reduce the warmth. As you warm up, you will want to shed. A jacket ties around the waist. A cap can hang on the water belt.
Tip Two: When the weather is nicer it becomes important to remember the sun screen. It is good to make it a habit as part of your outfit.
Tip Three: Those joggers and breastfully endowed walkers - The jostling that occurs with jogging tears at the micro fibers that hold our breasts up and over time they loosen and sag. :( The more support we can give them the better! A good jog bra is a well spent investment. You can have an expensive bra and top with a more affordable, less supportive jog bra.