I Tried It: Running My First Half Marathon – Week 8

Our beauty editor Caitlin Kenny shares her top half-marathon training tips

Running off into the sunrise, as you do.
Running off into the sunrise, as you do.

This is weird but, I don’t really have anything to complain write about this week. I ran my usual Sunday morning 6k, Monday morning 8k, then my long run on Thursday was 19k. And it all felt totally fine.

After hitting 23k last Thursday, I’m now starting to ease up on the distances and count down to the Seawheeze race (two weeks to go!) It’s not like I can LOL and skip my way through 19k or anything, but, compared to when I first hit that 19k mark three weeks ago, I can really feel my improvement.

So, unlike most of my blog posts where I talk about how stupid running is or how much my inner thigh skin is peeling off, I’m going to list off the little practical things that, together, make a jog feel pretty damn OK (not sure I’m quite ready to say “great” there or anything…).

Pump your arms and your legs will follow. Seriously. When you hit a hill and your calves are like k bye, just start to move your arms and your legs will naturally follow suit. It also helps to keep your eyes locked on the top of the hill, and to get up on your toes.

Use fuel to reset your mind. If you start feeling so freakin exhausted that you ponder lying down and sobbing, pop a gel or energy chew (I’ve really become hooked on the black cherry–flavoured Clif Bloks because they are like yummy jujubes I’m supposed to eat). The calories will kick in and help you out physically, but also, and more importantly IMO, that act of doing something to “fix” your problem helps you get back on track mentally too.

Fuel throughout, too. Maybe I’m just running as an excuse to eat gummies? I swear, ever since I started taking energy chews along on my runs, I’ve been able to keep my energy levels more stable from the beginning to the end. I wrap eight gummies in Saran-Wrap (divided into two groups of four) and tuck them into the sides of my sports bra. Have your first at 45 minutes, then every 30 minutes after that—or sooner if your body/brain tells you it needs it.

Use your abs. Last week, I wrote about how much I’m loving my strength-training, and on my run this week, I really noticed how it has helped me hold myself up straighter. Running slumped over will slow you down, probably hurt your back, and worst of all, it’ll make you feel as blah as you look. When you stand up straight, all of that goes away and you feel more confident. So, at the risk of sounding like a protein-high personal trainer, engage your core!

Make a plan for when shit gets tough—because it will. So be ready for it. It sounds cheesy, but it’s OK to physically write down your strategy, and review it before you run (I do). With the help of Toronto-based sports psychologist Dana Sinclair from Human Performance International, I’ve laid out specific actions (drop my shoulders, exhale, drive my knees up) and thoughts (“I can and will finish this”) to help me when I’m struggling. It’s all basic, but it’s usually the stuff that I’ve let slip away from me in my exhaustion. So I think about a few specific things that I can do with my body to replicate how I feel when I’m doing well, and mentally, I like to appeal to my logic like, “Actually, you aren’t going to die, Caitlin, and you really can run this distance.” You’ll find what works for you, but what matters is that you have something to fall back on when you feel like you just can’t anymore.

Catch up with Caitlin:
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 1
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 2
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 3

Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 4
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 5
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 6
Caitlin’s Marathon Training Diary — Week 7

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What It’s Really Like to be an Olympic Mountain Biker
Localist Guide: The Best New Fitness Classes Across Canada

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