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CONGRATULATIONS Coach diaNne:
Welcome the Newest MAC teammate!
Adeline Grace. Born Saturday October 10th, weighing 6lbs 11oz and 18 1/2 inches long. Coach Dianne and Adeline are doing well. Congrats Dianne and Family!
Thank you Irene Pawley-Kennedy for assisting with Coaching in Dianne's absence.
Fall Practice Schedule:
The fall schedule will run as follows:
School Closings Reminder:
As a reminder, when Huron Valley schools are closed there is no MAC practice. Check your e-mail before heading to the pool, we’ll send an e-mail from Shutterfly as soon as we get the call about any closures. For Saturday practices, please use your best discretion about the condition of the roads and if we feel is is looking like it may be really bad we’ll send an e-mail out too.
mark your calendar:
2015-2016 Swim Meet Schedule:
Fall Season 2015
Winter Season 2016
For More Information About Swim Meets...
About swimming with MAC at Swim Meets, what to bring, and what to expect, go to the RERERENCE tab (above), and select SWIM MEETS 101:, or click here
2015-2016 - Check Off Challenge...
WHO wants to do the check off challenge..? You just have to swim each event once during the season in a meet, no problem RIGHT...?? We will even pose a mini challenge for the rookies...no 1650, 400IM or 200's stroke but next season you have to step up to the big peoples table...SO are you READY to step up ...it doesn't have to be pretty or fast just completed by the end of the season. CLICK HERE for a 2015-2016 Check-Off Challenge Worksheet.
MAC - MASTERS SWIM TEAM INFORMATION:
MAC - Masters Swim Team
Designed for any swimming ability level from beginners to advanced swimmers. Meet and swim with a group of adult swimmers - at Milford High School. • Learn correct stoke techniques • Increase the efficiency of your strokes • Develop more endurance • Find camaradarie and fun in the pool
At each practice, lanes will be designated for beginners through advanced. A workout will be posted for each lane. All lanes will begin swimming sets together, although the set will vary depending on ability level. ALL practices are coached by certified coaches. Brick workouts will be available for triathletes or others interested in cross training. Facility membership will include access to indoor track, weight rooms, treadmills and spin classes. Coaches will provide online resources, professional videos demonstrating stoke techniques, articles detailing nutrition, stroke and fitness training methods. In addition your stroke will be videotaped and evaluated.
You can register at the Front Desk.
SWIM NOTES: Team Communication (Shutterfly - MAC Swimmers):
Talk to Coach Diane, Kris or Maria, and they will invite you via e-mail invitation. Click on the link in the invitation and follow the steps to create a Shutterfly account.
You can then use the team's page for information, you can do two things:
If you need help please let Kris know at the pool.
TIPS for Touching The Walls:
FLY: requires a 2 hand touch at same time. If going for more fly then push off on stomach / side, if switching to back push off on back side. You MAY dolphin kick on either push off before starting stroke.
Good Swim and Lane Etiquette:
YES, the lanes are crowded but so is a tri so practice good lane etiquette...
• Move over to the side when stopping at the wall so others can finish at the wall
If you arrive late at practice, FIRST I am proud you made the effort to come, I know its not easy and every minute in the pool counts! Second, please get in your typical lane and join the warm up in progress...most warm ups are scheduled to take btw 15-30m and have many different features. If the lane is kicking its okay to get in and swim a 200 or so around those kicking. Warm ups do not have to synchronized like the sets during practice. You just need to be courteous to those already in the lane ie: don't push off in front of folks coming in for a turn, don't stand and visit in front of the wall, don't stop folks and ask them to explain what they are doing...get going and join the flow. IF you come in and warm up is done, no prob...I will add you to a lane and have you go last till you are warmed up and you will follow the format of the set the lane is doing. I will always scan and adjust lanes to reduce crowding and get lanes ability levels synchronized as possible before starting the main sets. Realize we have a VERY diverse group and all may not be the same speed but we can work together.
Please try and follow the sets format. The workout is written for a reason...certain goals in speed, heart rate, aerobics capacity, rest, drill / stroke goals, etc. I know they can be confusing, just ask...its my job to help you understand. Many times I do NOT write the details because I want you to stop and ask. No interval on the board for a set means there is a 10 second rest interval. After each set your lane should regroup, it keeps the lane flowing. IF you are obviously out of place in the lane too slow or fast let me know, we can move you after a set or I may have a reason for leaving you there. Be patient and we will all get more effecient and faster together...state meet is how many mo's away?!
Do not stand in the middle of the wall, always come in to the right side of the lane and allow other swimmers to finish and turn on the wall.
If you get out for a goggle chg, bathroom break, cigar, etc wait for the lane to finish the repeat and then join the end of the line. Don't run over folks that are tired and have been swimming while you were in the hot tub oops meant bathroom. Pace behind them and get back into the flow. No one like to have a swimmer riding their feet
BREAK THE CODE: Swim Workout Abbreviations
k = kick
small numbers written to the left of each line are the yardage in 100's ie 22= 2200 yards. 1650 yards equals a mile
Any stroke can be swam with…isolate component of stroke
Post written by Susan Lacke.
Like most new triathletes — especially those who started out as runners — I had a lot of really strange questions when I first decided to take on a triathlon.
Though I was comfortable as a runner, learning how to add a swim and bike turned me into an inquisitive pain in the ass around my triathlete friends:
“Why do you wear those pointy helmets? Can I wear arm floaties on the swim? Where did all the men’s body hair go?”
One of the questions I had was particularly puzzling:
How the heck does anyone eat at these things?
I know I’m not alone in that bewilderment. As I’ve worked on the upcoming No Meat Athlete Triathlon Roadmap, I’ve encountered a lot of people who once felt the same way. For many runners-turned-triathletes, their fueling routine for running was nailed down, but triathlon was weird.
In a marathon, I knew to fuel early and often, taking in carbohydrates nearly from the start of the race. So in a triathlon, did that mean I was supposed to start eating during the swim?
What? How? Didn’t Grandma say something about waiting an hour?
With time, of course, I began to learn that fueling for a triathlon isn’t so confusing after all. It just takes a few rules of thumb and a lot of experimentation.
In triathlon, nutrition and hydration are so important, they’re often referred to as the “fourth discipline” of the sport. But no matter what distance you’re racing, whether it’s your first sprint or a full-on Ironman distance, the key elements of fueling for your triathlon are the same.
Here’s a look at 12 basic guidelines that apply to triathlons of most any distance:
1. The morning of your race, take in between 200 and 500 calories.
It’s a wide range of caloric intake, and your pre-race breakfast should be based on your own preferences. Also consider how much time you have before the race – if you’re eating three hours before the starting gun, that will give you more time to digest a bigger breakfast.
2. Get a good mix of carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fats.
As Matt points out in the 5 Essentials of Pre-Workout Nutrition, 3 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein is typically said to be the perfect ratio, with a splash of healthy fats for good measure. Some typical race-morning breakfasts:
A smoothie with protein powder
3. Caffeinate (maybe).
If you’ve had coffee, tea, or another caffeinated beverage on training days with no ill effects, then go ahead and drink it on race morning. Some people drink it for the caffeine jolt, while others pick it up because it makes things – ahem – move before you start moving. If you’ve ever visited a port-o-john before a race, you know what I’m talking about. (Wink. Nod. Air-gun.) You don’t specifically need coffee for that – a mug of hot water will do the trick, too.
Race morning is not the time to suddenly start a coffee habit! Some people resemble a rabid labrador on crack cocaine after a cuppa Joe. This sounds like it’d be perfect for getting some free speed in a race, but in actuality, it just makes for anxiety, difficulty focusing, or nausea – not at all what you want on your big day.
4. Drink water.
Guzzling gallons of water on race morning will not really do anything for you except make you have to pee. Instead, drink lots of water throughout the days before the race, and drink some on race morning to “top off the tank.”
During The Race
5. Fuel the machine.
Your main objective during the race is to stay on top of nutrition and hydration. In shorter races, this is easy to achieve, since the body’s natural stores of glycogen will often suffice. Longer races, however, require strategic planning.
Your body’s stock of carbohydrates will keep energy levels up while you’re racing. No matter what distance you’re racing, take 100 to 200 calories of easily-digested carbohydrate (gels are perfect for this, as are dates) with a healthy gulp of water 15 minutes before the race. This will give your body an extra boost to draw from during the swim.
That’s right — the answer to “How do you eat during the swim?” is … You don’t. In terms of time, the swim is usually the shortest leg of a triathlon, so by eating a good breakfast followed by a small amount of calories immediately before getting in the water, you can tide yourself over until you get into transition and hop on the bike. Don’t worry about bonking during the swim — if you’ve done a good job of fueling in the days and hours before your race, your body’s natural reserves will suffice plenty for this short time frame.
And that old wives’ tale about waiting an hour after you eat before you swim? It’s exactly that – an old wives’ tale. Take in a gel and get in the water already!
On the bike and run, fuel wisely. For races lasting more than an hour, typical recommendations are to take in 120 to 240 calories with 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. In long-course races, such as a half or full iron distance, you may want to consider taking in more calories (if your stomach can handle it).
6. Consume mostly liquids.
Liquids are the ideal way to get your nutrition during a triathlon – not only will liquid hydrate you, but many sport drinks contain calories, carbohydrates, and electrolytes in a format that’s easiest for your stomach to process.
7. Take in electrolytes.
Most people think electrolytes and sodium are interchangeable. But electrolytes are actually several different salts – sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate, to be exact. These elements keep your body running by balancing hydration, nerve impulses, and muscle function.
The amount of electrolytes you need to take in during a race will depend on a lot of factors: how much you sweat, how hard you’re racing, and how hot/windy/dry it is outside. Most sports drinks will fulfill this need, though some people choose to drink water and take their electrolytes in capsule form.
8. Choose a drinking routine.
Some people take in a certain amount of fluid at scheduled intervals — say, 4 ounces every 10 minutes, or 6 ounces every 20 minutes. Some make it a point to empty one bottle of fluid over the course of an hour. Others simply drink to thirst. Find what works for you.
9. If you must eat “food,” make it easy to digest.
Eating while cycling or running is taxing on the body. Whether propelling you forward or digesting your food, muscles need resources — energy, water, and blood — to work. Doing both simultaneously requires those resources to be diluted throughout your system instead of concentrated on one function (moving or eating). To avoid having your moving resources diverted to your stomach, choose easy-to-digest foods like store-bought or homemade gels, chews, soft candies (I’ve been known to carry Swedish Fish in my bike jersey!), or dates. For shorter races, you won’t need a lot of food – just a small baggie should do.
For longer efforts requiring more calories (like a half or full iron distance triathlon) you may want to eat something more substantial, like pretzels, energy bars, or a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Always eat these on the bike — it is much easier to digest than while running — and don’t eat it all at once (see above: diverting resources). Instead, spread out your bites over time, and always take in a good drink of water with each bite of your solid food.
10. Caffeinate, maybe (yes, this again!).
There are gels and sports drinks which contain caffeine. Some triathlons also offer Coca-Cola on the run course. Some people utilize this bonus ingredient – cola has brought back more than one triathlete from the deep, dark recesses of a bonk – but others have found it causes stomach upset. During your training, try caffeine to see how your body reacts to it.
11. Eat soon, drink often.
There’s a fuel window in the 15-60 minutes following a race where you want to take in your recovery meal to optimize muscle repair. Matt discusses this window (and six other important tips) in The 7 Secrets of Post-Workout Recovery.
12. Treat yourself.
After eating an appropriate recovery meal, it’s perfectly acceptable to use that day’s race as an excuse to eat whatever the hell you want that night. I’m a fan of the Mexican-food-and-cupcake dinner myself. Treat yourself – you’ve earned it!
The Following information is for beginning runners. (Galloway's Book on
Monitor your pulse rate. The key to strengthening your heart is keeping
your pulse rate high enough, but not too high. Research by Dr. Kenneth
Cooper at eth Aerobics Research Institute and by others has shown the
threshold level to be 70 - 80% of your Maximum heart rate. This isn't
necessary in the beginning; but after you've established a program,
maintaining this heart rate for 30 min, three times a week will
strengthen your lungs and heart, improve circulation of the blood and
oxygen and tone up you muscles. (Galloway's Book on Running)
Running on the indoor track:
5 minute warmup at your own pace
Article 1 Warming Up
Whatever the sport, or exercise program, the first movements should begin with a warm-up. Start with light activity to loosen up muscles before vigorous activity. Warming up not only loosens muscle, but starts blood flowing to muscle. Your body should begin to feel more relaxed and alive (ready to take on a higher tempo).
According to many sports experts, a warm-up should last at least 10 minutes. A warm-up should begin to make you sweat, but not tire you out. For those beginning to run, this could mean a brisk walk, or a ride on a stationary bike to warm up leg muscles. Although running is a great deal of leg work, the upper body plays an important role in efficient running too. Don't ignore the upper body during a warm up. Light push ups or sit ups can be a good warm-up. Stretching is a huge part of the warm-up for runners. Hold stretches (see attachment) for 30-40 second each. As you get in better shape and start feeling good about your runs, it is tempting to skip a warm-up. Sometimes the mentality is to think you don't need a warm up because your body is used to running, and you feel confident in your ability. This can be a big mistake. When you do a warm-up, the muscle becomes saturated with blood. This will increase the elasticity. A good warm-up and blood saturation prepares muscles, tendons and ligaments to take a more intense level of strain.
In addition, muscle warm-up and flexing the joints improves the strength and speed of muscle contractions. This allows them to perform at their full range of motion more efficiently and without injury. A good warm-up also helps you to conserve energy. I used to spend little time with warm up prior to a race because I did not want to wear myself down. On the contrary, a good warm-up allows you to exercise longer because it will take less energy to produce the necessary movements. Your blood becomes thinner and flows more easily. When this happens, you get nutrients to the muscles more quickly. In turn, the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid, is quicker. Lactic acid can cause cramping.
Sources of information:
Gary Null, Ph.D.
Is Cooling Down Important? You bet!
Depending on who you talk to, some experts suggest that a cool down is even more important than a warm up. I would, however, never suggest skipping a warm-up. Once again, warm-ups are a key to injury prevention, but a cool down is just as valuable to maintain healthy, injury free workouts. Some may not buckle up in the car because the airbag is there, but both restraints make your vehicle safer. Just like a primary and secondary restraint system, warm-up and cool down keep you safer (less prone to injury) and keep you running longer (or swimming, or biking, etc.).
Here are a few reasons why a cool down is essential:
1. Have you ever felt weak in the knees, crampy, or sore with muscle pain? This is frequently due to lactic acid. Even if you feel good at the time of exercise, your body has still not gotten rid of waste products produced by a workout. One of the reasons you feel sore after vigorous workout is due to the lactic acid that is still in your muscles. Cooling down will help the body flush the toxins. When exercise is stopped, waste products stay in the muscles. This often causes swelling and pain (often called blood pooling). Cooling down helps return blood to the heart and relieves muscles of lactic acid. Keeping blood circulating through the muscles at an adequate rate carries oxygen and the nutrients that are required for repair and growth.
2. For runners, a cool-down prevents blood from pooling in the legs. As a runner (in particular on hard running days - races, speed work, hill work, tempo runs, etc.) you have not only blood pooling in the legs, but also adrenaline that is flowing throughout the body. This affects the heart. Sometimes this can be fatal (2009 Detroit Marathon?). So how do you combat that? Simply walking around a bit, or a very slow pace jog will work. Keep moving for about 10 minutes.
3. Speaking of the heart, a cool-down allows the heart to return to its normal rate gradually. It can be very dangerous to suddenly stop a workout without allowing the heart to have its cool-down. According to experts, deaths in runners are rare, but a great deal of them are due to cardiac arrest. This is often caused by stopping a workout without performing cool-down. According to the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America, cardiac problems most often occur not during exercise, but after it's over.
******Of course, you should always refer to your doctor before beginning any workout routine.******
The following are ideas and links to websites for proper cool-down.
Three elements for cooling down
Good site on cool-down:
I had not thought about it, but was reminded by a fellow runner: "practice of massage as a post workout recovery plan too. Some of the best racers I know swear by it and make it a point to have a deep tissue massage at least once a month. They view this practice as one would liken it to having the oil changed in your cars engine on its normal maintenance schedule."
Comments from Ray J. (Mac Runner)
10 Tips for Avoiding Shin Splints, Runner's Knee, and Other Common Injuries
No one likes to face injury, but runners especially seem prone to injuries. And it's no wonder since a runner's feet strike the ground anywhere from 800 to 2,000 times a mile, at a force of about three to five times his body weight. I have been fortunate in that I've remained relatively injury free, but I have had experience with injury: an ankle sprain, knee discomfort, hip pain, and fatigue from overtraining. Other than the sprain, most of my injuries were minor. A couple days of rest, chiropractic care, and stretching helped me recover from my aches.
However, I know many other runners and nonrunners who constantly face injury and pain. While many listen to their body and back off, others ignore the pain and keep pushing to a higher level--a new personal record or goal. While some injuries are unavoidable, others are preventable.
The most common injuries runners face are shin splints, runner's knee, plantar fascitis, and inflammation of the iliotibial band (known as Iliotibial band syndrome or ITBS). Shin splints occur as pain or soreness in the shin region. They can sometimes lead to stress fractures. Runner's knee is an aching soreness around or under the knee. An inflammation of the connective tissue along the sole and its attachment to the heel bone is plantar fascitis. ITBS is an inflammation on the outside of the knee joint, which begins as an ache but can progress to a painful burning sensation.
Here are ten tips for avoiding these and other injuries:
1. Invest in good quality running shoes for your foot type. You are setting yourself up for injury if you don't have the right shoes or if you fail to retire your shoes after 300-500 miles. I made the mistake of buying "cheap" running shoes. It didn't take me long to realize I needed better shoes. I went to a specialty running store where I received expert advice. Now, I will never run in anything but quality running shoes. For more information about getting the proper shoe, check out my article If the Shoe Fits.
2. Be careful about increasing your workout or mileage too much too soon. If you're overtraining, you risk injury. (My brother has suffered from shin splints for this reason.) The general rule is that you should not increase your mileage by more than 10% weekly. Also your long run should be no more than 50% greater than your longest run in the week. If your second longest run in the week is 5 miles, then your long run should not exceed 10 miles.
3. If you're a beginning runner, avoid difficult and hard runs. As a general rule, you should wait until you've been running about a year and have built your mileage to about 20 miles weekly before attempting hills and speed training. That doesn't mean you should never run hills. Where I live, I'm surrounded by hills, so when I started running, I had little choice but to run hills, but I have had knee discomfort after increasing my mileage too quickly and running too many hills too fast. Be careful when running hills--especially going downhill--that you maintain control.
4. Take a day or two of rest. I exercise six days a week, but I only run three (sometimes four days a week). By incorporating a day of rest and cross training, you lessen your chance of injury. I cycle and participate in aerobics on my nonrunning days. I love running, but I don't want to risk all those injuries that many runners face. Often, once you suffer injuries, your body is more susceptible to those same injuries. Yes, there are runners who run every day and have no problems, but I don't want to take that chance.
5. Run slower and on softer surfaces. Concrete is the hardest surface and provides little shock absorption. Roads paved with asphalt are better. Cinder tracks are the most resilient. If I have the choice between sidewalks and the streets, I choose the street as long as it's safe. When I run along a four-lane highway I choose the sidewalk. To not run there would be sheer foolishness.
6. Watch the camber on streets. The middle of the road is the best part to run on, but it is also unsafe. Some roads have very steep camber, so avoid running on the edge of those roads. If it's not a busy road, you can run more on the road, or else try running off the road. When running off the road, be careful of holes or loose stones you may slip on, or any other hazardous situations. Don't run with your head down all the time, but be aware of what's underfoot. (I suffered a sprained ankle when I first started running because I slipped on wet grass going downhill and twisted my ankle after falling into a little hole.)
7. Stretch both before and after your workup, but warm up a little before stretching. Walk or jog an easy mile, stretch and then run your course. Don't forget to stretch at the end of your run after you cool down. If you fail to adequately cool down and stretch after a workout, and especially after a race, your muscles will tighten and you will be stiff and sore the next day. To prevent this walk or jog slowly and then stretch. The longer your run or the harder your race, the longer you need to cool down afterwards. I usually plan the last mile or 5-10 minutes as an easy jog and then I walk for a few minutes. After a race, I walk/jog for at least 10-15 minutes.
8. Do strength training exercises for the lower and upper body. Lunges and squats, when executed properly, are great leg strengtheners.
9. Also, watch your running form. Not only does that help to prevent injuries, but it also helps you run more efficiently. To maintain proper posture and efficiency, hold your head high. Relax and avoid tensing your muscles. If your body is aligned properly, your feet will land on a line directly in front of you. Be aware of your arm movements. Keep your arms bent at about 90 degrees. Dangling them or holding them to your chest will cause a loss of power in your stride. They should move forward and backward with the opposite leg, your hands brushing your hips.
10. Listen to your body. While some muscle aches or discomforts are to be expected when you push yourself, pain is not. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. If you continue exercising through pain, you risk injury. And if you have an injury, take some time off. You risk more damage and your recovery will take longer if you don't!
The Following Article Was Posted on Active.com
How to Train for Your First Half Marathon
By Coach Jenny Hadfield For Active.com
If you're reading this article, you probably want to become a half marathoner (or you're leaning into the idea). And if that is the case, you are in the right place. Successfully finishing a half marathon begins a plan to reach the start line safely and ready to rumble.
Start your engines. You've pulled the trigger and decided to try your hand in the half marathon world. Congrats! The next step is to register for an event to build in a little accountability. Give yourself plenty of time to train for the half (12 to 14 weeks). Having a long runway will give you time for illness, vacations and life detours that can happen along the way. It will also allow your body and mind time to adapt to the continual progression in mileage. If you don't currently have a consistent base of mileage (3 to 4 miles, three to four times per week), that is OK. It simply means your runway is a little longer (six months). You can do it in less, but you won't have as much fun along the way and the risks of injuries dramatically increase.
Pick an event, any event. I ran my first half marathon in my county because I could train on the course and I wanted the home court advantage. When you pick the race, it serves as your carrot for the season, so it is in your best interest to find one that inspires. Do you want to run through wine country or in your hometown? Do you want to toe the line with thousands or a few hundred? Since this is your first, it is also wise to find events that support your pace (run, run-walk or walk) and those that offer courses similar to your terrain. There are enough nerves in tackling your first event, let alone having to worry about short cut-off times or super challenging terrain. Keep it simple.
Find a training plan that suits your needs. The body adapts and improves at an efficient rate if you make small changes along the way. The key to going longer, stronger and tapping into your inner endurance athlete is to have the wisdom to start from where you are rather than where you want to be.
The first week of the training plan should closely match that of your current training plan (or slightly more, maybe 10 percent). If you jump into a program that requires a large jump in mileage, frequency or intensity, you will be on a fast track to burn out, aches and pains and possibly drop out. Think of this like education. Take it one grade at a time. Your body will pay you back in dividends by recovering from the workouts so you can progress along the way. Less is more when you're first getting started. Hold back the reigns of excitement and take it one step at a time.
Make it social. Research suggests training in groups not only inspires better performance, but the ability to run longer more easily. This is especially important for the weekly long training runs. The miles fly by as you talk about the movie you saw, work, the kids or solving world peace. There are a lot of fantastic training groups at local running stores, charity groups and gyms. Or it can be as simple as you and your best friend.
Practice patience, grasshopper. Rome wasn't built in a day and you won't turn into a half marathoner over night. Expect to roll through good and not-so-good training days. At the end of the season, it all comes down to the consistency overall, not the handful of workouts that felt so hard you wanted to cry.
Listen to your body and go with the flow of your life. Our body has an excellent communication system that would kick Twitter's butt. Listen as you train for aches and pains that don't subside in a day or two. In most cases, the pain will subside with a little tender, loving care. If the aches stick around longer, its time to dial down the program for a few days and cross-train with activities that don't aggravate the aches and rest. A few days of active or complete rest can be the answer to most training aches. It all starts with listening…
Use your gears. The greatest difference between running for fitness and for a long distance event is that the former is horizontal and the latter continually builds throughout the season. The progression requires training at the scheduled effort level (intensity) to allow efficient recovery. If you run the long run too hard, it delays the recovery process and can have an effect on the performance of your next workout. The number one mistake I see most newbie half marathoners make is in running all the workouts at the same pace (their normal running pace). Find your gears (effort levels – easy, moderate, hard) and practice discipline as you train. You'll know you're on target if you are able to run longer or faster and you'll know if you're pushing too hard if those times and paces decline.
Learn, grow and evolve. There is a wonderful running community from which you can learn many helpful tips along the way. Join in the conversation on the Active.com forums and read the informative articles. Stop by my AskCoachJenny Facebook page and ask a question or learn from others. Getting connected is a great way to maintain momentum and motivation along the way.
Think outside the box. It's easy to get caught up on the miles when training for a half marathon but there are a lot of other ingredients that play a vital role in your preparation. Strength training as little as 15 to 20 minutes twice per week builds a solid foundation that will improve muscle balance, running efficiency, and help you maintain optimal form for the duration. Weaving in 5 to 10 minutes of flexibility work (stretching, foam rolling) can relieve muscle tension that is common in repetitive sports. Including cross-training activities (cycling, elliptical, yoga, swimming, skating) in your program reduces mental fatigue, balances the musculature and adds spice to the regimen. Think of it like making a tasty bowl of chili. It's the balance of the ingredients that makes the meal.
Practice makes perfect. Every long training run or walk is an opportunity to practice for race day. Consider it a dress rehearsal and dial in hydration on the run, the timing of your pre-run nutrition and fueling on the fly. Think of apparel, shoes and anything and everything related to race day. Keep a log and track what works and what doesn't. From chafing apparel to your favorite gel flavor, you'll create your personal training recipe for success along the way and it will serve as a means of validation when the race nerves set in the week before the event.
Beat taper madness. Speaking of nerves, a funny thing happens on the way to the start line. A tiny gremlin I call taper madness sits promptly on your shoulder about seven days out from the event with a goal to break you down mentally and emotionally. His presence can make you second-guess everything from what to eat race week to which foot to start on. This is happening as the training volume is tapering down to allow recovery from the demands of the season so you can toe the line strong, fresh and ready to rumble. The gremlin is fueled by your nerves but can be easily knocked off by keeping faith in your program. Review your log and remind yourself how far you've come. This is the time to breathe, keep the mind stimulated and the body rested. Adding mileage to soothe the mind can hurt the body on race day.
Go with what you know. If you're going to be a half marathoner, you need to know the number one rule. That is, don't try anything new on race day. Refer back to your log and stick to what is tried and true. Avoid the temptation to buy that cute, new top from the expo to wear on race day. Eat familiar foods, gels and avoid making drastic changes in your life.
Pace yourself. The number one thing you can control on race day is your pace. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the race and go out too fast, only to find yourself crawling across the finish line. Think tortoise, not hare, and hold back the reins for the first half of the race by keeping the effort at a pace where you can talk. If you can hear your breathing, you're running too hard. At the halfway point, begin to slowly dial up the effort and count down the miles. In the final 3 miles, go fishing. That is, focus on a runner ahead and reel them in. There is nothing in the world like having the strength to pass people (nicely) in the final miles of a race. Besides, it makes for a much cuter finish line photo.
Celebrate your accomplishment. There are very few people that will ever cross a half marathon finish line. Take the time to fully celebrate your accomplishment. Whether you choose to run another half marathon or not, you only run your first half marathon once. Take it all in and give yourself a high five. You've earned it.