I’m running the Capital City Half Marathon on May 5.
Two lovely ladies on the race’s communications team asked me to participate. I heard the phrase “champagne toast at the finish line” and I was in.
Actually, I run a few miles two to four days a week in the spring, summer and early fall, and I figured a half marathon would me give me a reason to step up my routine.
As if running 13.1 miles for one glass of bubbly weren’t enough, I’ve also been asked to share my training experiences leading up to the race with Columbus Underground’s readers. Please allow my sweat and tears to be your entertainment.
Soon I’ll be embarking on a 60-day training program, so I decided it was time for a sit-down with Aimee Price, the Cap City Half running coach. She’s a triathlete from Delaware, Ohio who’s been training hundreds of runners since 2008.
In other words, she knows her stuff.
Below is my interview with Price. My questions cover the basics: what should you be wearing, eating, and drinking when training for, and running, the half. Oh, and I also asked her about bleeding nipples. It’s a thing, people.
Melanie McIntyre: So I’m thinking shoes are pretty important when running a half marathon. Obviously everyone’s foot is different, but are there things every runner should look for in an athletic shoe?
Aimee Price: The most important thing about running shoes is proper fit. Each runner or walker should go to a specialty running store that will watch the runner run and walk. They will ask about their running history and what they are training for now. Employees at a specialty running store are trained in types of foot strikes, running style, and how the shoe technology will work for different types of runners. I can’t stress enough that if a runner has not been fit properly yet, to go out and do that right away!
MM: If you had to recommend three items −gear, devices, etc.− for men and women training for a half marathon, what would they be?
AP: First and foremost is a good, properly fit pair of running-specific shoes!
After that, for women, a good fitting sport bra is essential. Again, most specialty running stores can help fit these properly.
For everyone, technical clothing is for real! It really does make a difference and is not just a gimmick to get us to buy cool, brightly colored tights. It is known as all sorts of things: Dri Fit, Coolmax, etc.
You don’t want to be running in cotton because it does not wick sweat away from your skin. Cotton will keep you cold in winter and hot in summer− bad. Technical, wicking fibers do exactly the opposite. They wick sweat away from the skin to regulate temperature when you are running. One of the best technical fibers is actually natural wool!
MM: Let’s talk about training. I’ve always heard stretching before and after is smart. Apparently I’m dumb because I don’t that. I’m kind of impatient and just want to get running. I do walk a little before and after. Is stretching that important?
AP: There are lots of opinions about stretching that you can find out there. I would not advise someone to ever stretch a cold muscle, which means don’t get out of your car and try to go through a stretching routine. If you want to stretch before a run, you will need to warm up for about five to 10 minutes beforehand, either with light running or cycling, etc.
I’m a believer in stretching afterward, trying to hit all the major running muscles: hamstrings, quads, calves, hip abductors and adductors, and low back. I once had a coach in Texas tell me, “If you don’t have 10 extra minutes after a run to stretch, cut your run 10 minutes short!”
Yoga is also great for runners because it helps to lengthen the muscles back out after we tighten and shorten them up with all of our long runs.
MM: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that one probably shouldn’t attempt to run 13.1 miles on their first day of training. It’s best to increase the number of miles you run over a period of time, right?
AP: Correct! The old rule of thumb that most of us live by is to increase your mileage safely, you should never increase more than 10 percent a week. I have a training program on the Cap City Half marathon webpage. I also encourage people to find a group to run with, either one of the groups on the Cap City website −including Marathoner in Training, where I coach on Saturdays− or a group of friends.
Your running partners quickly become your friends and they keep you accountable to your schedule. You can’t have your buddy complete their daily miles and find out that you haven’t! More importantly, if you have to meet someone at 6 a.m. to run on a winter morning, it is much easier to get out of a warm bed than if you were going to run alone. Not to mention, it is safer to run in a group, especially when it is dark.
MM: This might seem like a dumb question, but do you have to run every day? Or is it OK to run just three or four or five days a week? I’m sure your fitness level plays into that, but I guess I’m trying to ask if it’s best to take a couple days off every week to give your muscles a break?
AP: You absolutely should not run every day. My Cap City Half Marathon program calls for four to five days of running each week, with the most important day being the long run day. This is when you teach your body how to handle the time and effort it will take to complete 13.1 miles come race day.
Just as important, however, are the days off from running. We put a lot of stress on our bodies with running, not to mention life, job, kids, and family. It is during our rest days that our bodies can recover properly so that we can continue to train. If we do not take one day off completely from exercise, we simply tear ourselves down, which can lead to fatigue, injury, or illness. I know lots of folks do many activities like Cross-fit, Zumba, and other exercise programs in addition to their running, which is great. They still need to have one day of complete rest from exercise to allow the body time to rebuild.