I did it! Despite the 5 am wake-up call, the 90-degree weather and the ankle pain that ensued in the final three miles, I made it to the finish line of my first half marathon...standing. The race was a lot of fun; it felt like a great celebration of being a New Yorker. The best part was running through a cheering crowd in Time Square. And as an editor in the health field, I was so happy to see more than 10,000 people take part in such a huge fitness challenge; it was truly inspiring. Ready to sign up for your first race? Here are my top five tips for getting ready.
1. Sign up to run with a friend or family member (who has a similar pace as you). Having my sister to train with and spend race day with made the whole thing easier and more fun. Don't choose someone who wants to win if all you want to do is cross the finish line.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I'm not a huge fan of sugary sports drinks, so I opted to get a boost from coconut water; it's full of electrolytes and potassium, and is totally natural.
3. Take yoga or Pilates. See my previous post to learn about the benefits of these exercises for runners. I chose yoga, which helped me stay calm, strong and injury free.
4. Work out the kinks before: Try out different race day outfits while training, from your hat and sunglasses right down to your underwear and socks; this will help you to avoid chaffing and general discomfort. Also, if you plan on taking electrolyte gels during the race, experiment with them in your training runs to see how they affect your body. Same goes for sunscreen (make sure it doesn't run in your eyes) and anything else you plan on putting on or in your body on race day.
5. Eat lots of protein and carbs. Your body needs fuel to stay strong. But like your clothing, make sure to try different pre-race meals ahead of time (your night before and morning of menu) to see what works for your body.
And when it's over, be proud and reward yourself. At first I was a bit unhappy that my pace wasn't faster, but then I let my accomplishment overtake my self-doubt and decided to celebrate my greatest fitness accomplishment. I went for an hour massage yesterday and out to dinner as a reward for all my hard work, and my body is the one thanking me today.
Read more tips from our executive director who ran the More half marathon this past spring.