Girls Run Wild

Bay to Breakers is Over…Now What?

Posted on: May 16, 2011


Your calves, feet, hamstrings, quads – you name it – might be sore today, but what better time than the present to think about that next fitness goal.  And what better fitness goal than running a half marathon at the end of August?  For the next 2.5 months I will be training to run The Giant Race  Half Marathon that leads runners from the parking lot of AT&T Park along the Embarcadero, up to Crissy Field, and back to home plate at the ballpark for a total of 13.1 miles.  It is a relatively flat course – the only big hill appears at mile 4 along the back side of Fort Mason.  The event also offers a 5K (3.2 miles) and a 10K (which is sold out).  Proceeds benefit Project Open Hand.  More information about The Giant Race and other races in the City this summer can be found here.  Sign up today and join me on the 13.1 mile trek to failure!

Want to run a race this summer but don’t want to stay in the City?  Check out Running in the USA and make a vacation out of it.  Just remember – parts of the country are very, very hot in the summer and heat is not always conducive to running long distances.  In 2007, the Chicago Marathon was cancelled mid-way through the race due to high 80’s temps.  The medical (and running) worlds do not completely agree on the maximum temperature at which our bodies can tolerate the heat and maintain an exercise without compromising performance.  I have read that 70F for runners not acclimated to warmer weather can be dangerous or that 80F is the temperature at which performance suffers.  So, if San Francisco is your training spot and Houston, TX is your racing spot, just remember that climate acclimation might be a little more difficult come race day.

You’ve decided you want to train to run a race but you’re not exactly in peak running shape…where do you even start from here?

1. Sign up for a race.  Once you’re money is theirs, there is no turning back.  Once you’ve registered that goal becomes more realistic and you are (hopefully) more motivated to begin your training.  If you put off signing up for a race, your chances of getting on a training schedule and eventually signing up start going downhill.  Also, the Giant Race is almost sold out – don’t let this be your excuse for not training.

2. Assess your footwear.  Do you need a new pair of running shoes?  A pair is designed to last about 300-500 miles before needing to be replaced.  If you haven’t bought a new pair in years, now might be the time to treat yourself.

3. Gym membership time. Do you currently have a gym membership? If the answer is no, now is the time to consider joining.  Training for any long race requires logging lots of miles, but it also requires getting oneself in better cardiovascular shape overall.  Especially if you haven’t been running regularly, your body might be more prone to injuries if you start out trying to run even 3 miles per day.  Training for a Half Marathon (or even a 5K) is a building exercise – you don’t want to start out too hard, too fast.  I blogged about a few different gym options earlier – check them out here.

4. Gym/Exercise time.  Do you normally work out on a daily basis?  Good – keep it up.  Maybe try going 10 minutes longer or 1 mile further.  This week is going to be a test to see if you can start devoting part of each day to working out – no excuses.  Try and make going to the gym part of your routine.  It’s really easy to get home from work, sit on the couch, and decide that you are too tired to move.  If you spend a week telling yourself that no excuse is going to keep you from working out, going to the gym daily will become a lot easier.  You might claim that you have no energy to workout.  Don’t say that.  Working out GIVES you energy, helps you sleep better at night, keeps stress and anxiety levels down, and can help to improve your overall mood.  All of those things you complain about on a daily basis can be offset through working out.  Set a goal for the number of minutes per day you are going to workout – and make sure you’re not cheating yourself in terms of resistance.  Aim for at least 210 minutes this week (30 min per day) and choose different cardio machines to use (elliptical, bike, stairmaster, treadmill, etc).  Already working out a lot?  Add a couple more challenging or different workouts to your routine.  Try a Jillian Michaels-like workout to introduce yourself to interval training.  Need more motivation to go to the gym?  Plan your workouts around sports that you know will be on TV.

5. Start running.  To become a runner, you need to actually run.  Each run starts with one step, and then another, and then another.  Try going for a run around your block.  Can’t get further than 20 feet without wanting to collapse? First off, try slowing down.  This is not a sprint – just try a jogging pace.  Or, run for one minute and walk for 30 seconds.  Your body will start building endurance and eventually you will be running for over 2 hours straight.

6. Get some cute clothes.  Buy a solid sports bra, running pants or shorts that you like, and maybe a new top.  If you like what you’re wearing, you might be just a little more motivated to workout.  You also don’t have to spend a ton of money on workout clothes.  Target, Old Navy, and the Gap have it all.

7. Invest in a new workout playlist.  I’ve started listening to Pandora on my IPhone when I workout, but I need a consistent phone (or WIFI) signal to be able to do this.  Studies show that people who workout to music can increase their endurance up to 15%.

8. Don’t get deterred this early in the game.  So you just ran 3 miles, gave yourself blisters, and are so over this.  Don’t give up this easily.  Take care of the blisters, consider buying a pair of running socks, and get back out there.  You’re sore?  Suck it up.  Ice your legs, take an Advil, and do some stretching.  Whining won’t get you to the finish line any faster.

9.  Pick up a fitness magazine. Runners World, Self, Shape, Women’s Health – these can give you some new workout ideas and words of encouragement.

10.  Seek outside help.  Still can’t get motivated by yourself?  Convince a friend or two to join you.  Your boyfriend/husband/significant other works out religiously?  Join him or her at the gym and it might benefit your relationship.  Pining after someone?  Casually mention that you’re looking for a workout buddy and it might just lead to something more.  Join a running club.  This is also a way to meet people if you’re new to the City (and to network if you’re looking for a job even).  Need someone to really monitor you while you’re starting to get into training mode?  Try out a personal trainer.  Gym memberships often have trainer packages, especially when you first sign up.  I also highly recommend the ladies over at LifestyleF.I.T.

11.  Start a list of little goals. Every day (or week) plan out your workouts.  Set little goals for yourself (“Today, I will run for 20 minutes straight”).  As you cross off these goals you will feel like you have accomplished a lot.

Good luck this week!


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May 2011
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