I Tried It: Running My First Half Marathon – Week 2

Our beauty editor Caitlin Kenny hits the ground running... and limping and stumbling

marathon training week 2

Jogging along with my not-so-straight legs doing their own thing

It’s only week two of my training program, and I’ve already learned so much about what not to do. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not exactly a running fanatic, so my mileage has been low (A.K.A. zero) for the past year, pretty much ever since I dragged my butt across the finish line of Nike’s Toronto Island 15km race exactly a year and three days ago—my furthest run ever—and vowed to never do that to myself again. But here we are…

Considering my lack of experience, I thought my training plan would start off easy, but Nike running coach Inge Boesma, who’s currently training for an 80 km race (NBD), had other plans. Leading up to our first LSD run (that’s long, slow distance… womp womp), I squeezed in a couple 6 km jaunts and even one 10 km while trying to fight jet lag in Paris, all of which I thought was quite respectable. Her plans? A 12 km last Thursday, and 14 km this Thursday (along with two other shorter runs per week and two weight sessions to balance things out. Oh, and one soccer practice and game.) So, I really did hit the ground running, and limping, and stumbling….

Lesson 1: Don’t try to run 14 km on an empty stomach. Duh, right? Well, it wasn’t so obvious to me. I regularly wake up and head to a HIIT workout without a bite to eat, and always manage fine. When I tried to do that before yesterday’s 7 a.m. LSD? Well, I had to walk the last kilometre and a half thanks to a light-headed dizzy spell I couldn’t kick. Coach Inge recommends a banana, yogurt or English muffin. I think I’ll try Greek yogurt, but does this mean I have to wake up even earlier?

Lesson 2: Don’t let your legs just flail and flop under the weight of your exhausted torso. While the actual activity of running is meant to be fairly intuitive to humans, apparently there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. In our first few minutes together, coach Inge quickly pointed out that I’m a heel striker, meaning I land on my heels with each step and then rock forward to my toes to push off. “Putting your heel down is like pumping the brakes,” she explains. Instead, she instructs me to land on the middle of my foot, which involves a surprising amount of mental focus, and rock forward from there. Next issue to tackle: my right leg’s desire to turn inwards with every step. For this, coach Inge gets me to slow down to a walk and focus on driving my right knee straight up and forward in an exaggerated way. I then try to incorporate that feeling into my jog. “Much better,” Inge tells me, “but it looks like you’re really thinking about it.” I tried to straighten up every time I caught my form slipping, but a telltale mud streak on my left calf (from where I knocked it with my out-of-control right leg) proved I’ve got a ways to go. Which leads me to…

Lesson 3: Don’t ignore your injuries. Surprise, surprise: poor form messes up your muscles and joints and whatever else is in there. After 28 years of pronating and being generally asymmetric (or as a kind chiro once put it, having “congenital defects,” the not-so-euphemistic way of describing the unbalances many of us are born with), I’m no stranger to random body aches caused not by a particular incident, but simply persistent uneven strain on my body. Going from zero to 100 (or, ok 14 km) is a great way to speed up these pains. Usually, I just ignore these things and workout through them, but, with a pain in my knees that feels like my kneecaps might just pop off at any second, I’m realizing that keeping my legs healthy is probably my biggest training challenge, even more so than the looming 22 km practice run that I know I’ll have to do at some point. For now, I’m icing, stretching, foam rolling, massaging, making Gatorade sacrifices to the run gods, and letting my genius chiropractor, Kevin Marryshow of Myodetox, take care of rehab/torture.

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