As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I love.
At the top of the list is running. Over the weekend, I met a friend who told me that she was very committed to keeping in shape, but admitted that she had a hard time running outdoors. What did I like most about it?
It was difficult to put the feeling of freedom that comes with running, particularly running outside, into words. But I think my favorite aspect is the fact that long runs are great mental cleansers. Begin your effort with a problem, and feel it unravel as you put in the mileage.
I love how running provides you with both the ability to zone out, and the opportunity to hone in on a specific goal, whether that be time-based, distance-based or fitness-based. My goal for now is to get back into shape after taking a few months off due to injury. Later this year, I would like to run a half marathon in under an hour and 30 minutes, and I’m currently putting in the base work to get there.
Though I haven’t signed up for a race yet, it’s occurred to me that we’re now 12 weeks away from the second-annual Bridgehampton Half Marathon, to be held on May 9. For those who are thinking about doing it—and there should be many, as the half marathon is the fastest-growing race in the country, as far as the number of participants—12 weeks is the exact amount of time most programs recommend you train.
I’ve run three halfs over the past two years. Here are some tips from my experience:
1. When I ran my first half, I consulted Hal Higdon’s highly regarded training program, available for free at halhigdon.com. Higdon recommends that people training for their first-ever half first be able to comfortably run three miles multiple times a week. If that sounds like you, head over to the site and check out the guides, which Higdon has compiled for runners of all abilities.
2. The key to training successfully is twofold: completing quality long runs once a week, and taking enough time to rest and cross train. Novices should plan to build on their long runs by one mile once every two weeks.
3. Higdon also recommends supplementing a few long runs with races—specifically, a 5K and a 10K. This increases the likelihood of running a competitive half marathon. During a race, the mental component is more important than the physical, and practicing how to race will ensure that the time you put into training leads to the best results on race day.
4. For tracking your long run, there are plenty of GPS watches on the market. But if you don’t want to make the investment, the website mapmyrun.com allows you to do just that. Simply sign up, pick a starting point and map your route.
5. Do not ever underestimate the importance of cross training, which prevents you from developing some muscles at the expense of others, thereby reducing your risk of injury. Yoga and barre classes are a great form of cross training, as they focus on upper-body strength and core strength. Cross training is also a solid option if weather makes the roads unsafe.
6. Lastly, I highly recommend signing up for the race with a friend, as you can provide each other with motivation to train during undesirable weather. The hardest part of running a half isn’t the actual race. It’s committing to training over 12 weeks. Focus on the fun, and reap the rewards of competing come May 9.
Visit bridgehamptonhalf.com to sign up for the Bridgehampton Half. Proceeds benefit Southampton Hospital and the Bridgehampton Museum.