I’ve always been a runner since I was thirteen but I was never a runner in some ways until I started training for my first half marathon. I also learned that both of those things could be true. I ran every year in the spring and fall, for inservice training as a lifeguard and to spend time with my friends, but usually when it was nice out and always in daylight. That summer I ran, and ran and ran. In the rain, in circles and a lot at night. Here are some practical tips and tricks I learned in the process.
I also learned a lot about myself in the process which I encourage you to take a look here for how it affected my life. This post is more about the day to day stuff that can make your training and running in general a lot more pleasant. I learned most of this by doing but in the process of training for my first half I spent hours and hours often late at night on running blogs picking up something useful every tenth one that I might be able to use. I did use a bare bones training plan that gave distances and intensities but that was about it. I would have liked to find a one stop shop for a first time half runner or something for a runner who was looking to up their game on the next one. By the end I wanted to know about race day strategies, why I was doing speed work, how to run a recovery run, hydrate and fuel and I now think EVERY plan should talk about injury prevention. So I wrote one that does, sure it has that table with distances and intensities but it also has a pre-plan phase and a post race taper phase, not to mention definitions, safety concerns and of course injury prevention. I think it’s a pretty great comprehensive plan but I might be biased. It includes cooler coded sections for beginners and people looking to get faster in their next half.
That’s what this excerpt is the running tip section of my training guide. You might find this post of actually useful running tips helpful as well. But keep reading because I have some more tips here as well that either appear other places in the guide or are uber specific like how to handle, improve and extend the life of braces.
Training guide excerpt
Here are some tips to stay safe (probably some you never heard before)
- At some point the weather is just too bad for a run. Rain is fine but heavy snow is a good reason to stay home. We get the kind of fog you can stir with a spoon that eats lights you might be wearing so at some point just skip it. Ditto for really icy conditions, but walking a bit is totally fine.
- When your shadow is stretched out long in front of you at sunrise or sunset the glare is in driver’s eyes coming toward you, so watch out.
- Run facing traffic for god’s sake. People are programmed to notice faces so your more visible this way.
- You never regret putting on the light or reflector that prevents you from getting hit at night or dusk so shine bright like a diamond!
- The brightest reflective tape is at the fabric store for cheap so break out that sewing machine
- And experiments show it’s most visible on your ankles since they move the most and headlights are angled down. Any anything you wear there has to be washed almost never.
- Even if you don’t run with tunes bring a charged phone just in case
- Ignoring unwanted attention is usually most effective if a guy (or gal) won’t leave you alone pulling out your phone dramatically will usually do the trick. Even if they call you names.
- In an emergency you are allowed on private property.
- If someone is really bothering you run up to a house with lights on as if it’s your own.
- If someone is following you, your house might not be the best option if it’s secluded and no one is home. At this point stay where people can see you and a stranger’s house could be a better bet. Also call the authorities.
- Most people are nice, especially to runners.
- Voltaren before long or hard runs if you know something will nag at you.
- Chaffing can be an issue for some, it’s worse the moister you are so heat and rain are huge factors. You know your body best so look for clothes with our seams on hot spots. Vaseline can work great for chaffing but there are also commercial products available like body glide, you might have to test a few to find one that works for you.
- If it’s raining on race day but chaffing has never been an issue or you have avoided running in the rain. Put some Vaseline on tin foil and throw it in your belt or bra just in case.
- Running with taxi fare can prepare you for the worst like a bad fall.
- Think twice about late night runs on the weekends, studies show that after 11 pm up to 20% of drivers are over the legal limit.
- People tend to drive where they look don’t assume that just because they are staring at you they won’t hit you.
- Let someone know your route and about how long you’ll be, it never hurts.
Additional tips for Getwifed followers
- If you are a brace wearer, I’m sorry I am too. So here are a few tips. If it’s not as sticky or tight as it used to be a run through a hot dryer can help a lot, you can also pick out the bits from the velcro and ‘clean’ it with tweezers if necessary.
- It’s probably worth having two braces in case one fails or needs cleaning.
- If it’s still not sticking, like mine it’s time to get crafty. Go to the fabric store grab some industrial adhesive (or not) velcro and add it where you need it. You’re still going to have to sew it on to make it stay. Add small pieces where you need them rather than one big piece which could interfere with streachy-ness.
- All that being said my friend who has a PhD in physical therapy says braces just keep you injured by keeping you running. The science is mixed but generally says braces don’t really do any good. I think I just keep wearing it for support since I feel like it got me through runners knee.
- If you drop water bottles before your run add a note so they don’t get picked up.
- Get the most out of your phone battery by closing all your apps (and minimize data usage), dimming the screen and turning off the screen each time you wake it
- At night run where there are streetlights, it can be worth driving to find the bright ones.
- If you come to a dark corner without adequate light use your phone flashlight and walk.
- Always, always always take some toilet paper, but paper towel stands up better in your belt.
- Buy two pairs of shoes otherwise yours will be dead on race day. Cycle them both in training. That way you can choose your favourite pair to race in too.
- Find something you love that you can do as soon as you get home to motivate you for your long runs. Ideally something that your family can prepare or participate in. That way your making it easy for them to show their support. Like bubble baths, a meal or an appetizer ready upon your arrival.
- Pick up your dog (or friend) for the second half of your long run to motivate you and keep you company.
- Take some time to think about how you usually feel on a run. Recognizing your patterns can help you get motivated or recognize why you aren’t. For example I hate it until about the third km then I like running again. Also, long run anxiety gets at me and I feel it for the first half. It’s not until I get past the 50% mark that I start to feel awesome again.
- Hey, be dramatic about it before and humble brag about it after if you have to but… know that rainy, night (or pre dawn) and even wintery runs aren’t that bad. One you hit the 3 km mark (or before) you probably won’t even notice.
- If you have an old injury you might aggravate start doing the physio for it from the beginning of the plan to avoid ever aggravating it. The exercises should be easy to find on google images for most issues.
- If somethings starts to nag at you sit down for at least 5 days and try again. It will be better for your training in the long run than ending up injured.
- Have a pull out point for a training program or race defined before you start for injury. Otherwise you won’t stop when you should and what could have been a small injury nags at you for years. I’ve learned this the hard way.
- You have a right to be there, in fact every road user has the right to a lane. You also have a right not to be harassed no matter what outfit you choose to wear. If stuff gets really real call 911 discreetly (perhaps from your home screen) and don’t say anything. Your GPS location will be sent to the dispatcher and help will come. If you are scared of someone stay where your visible and don’t engage them or possibly set them off by letting them know you’re calling.
- Chances are you don’t need to worry about the things you hear about on the news. Newsworthy events are by definition rare and not very likely to happen to you. You never read the headline ‘female jogger catcalled from vehicle that quickly passes.’
- I firmly believe that over 99% of people are good people and the vast majority of that last 1% will probably help you if you need it. Make friends, just chat or even wave at people you pass in their yards on your route. Compliment their gardens or comment on the weather as you pass. One guy on my route stopped me one day to tell me he used to run, he doesn’t have a dog and the hose water is good should I ever need it, in a totally non-creapy way. I told him he was only 3 km from my house but thanks. Should I every find I need help on that stretch I’m going to his place.
- All that said, trust your gut!
What did you learn from your First Half? What running hack did you discover recently? Check out all of my training plans here!