This one’s going to be on the longer side, so grab a tea and settle in.
Hands up, how many of you are on a regular strength training program in addition to your run training plan? Both of mine are on the keyboard, so you know where I stand! Haha
All kidding aside, there are a few other “shoulds” that we need to include in our training over then next few months. We want to be all around healthy and in top form on June 6, so I’m sharing a few suggestions. Obviously, we are human and far from perfect, so just do your best to consistently have these show up in your program over the next few weeks. I will if you will. 😉
- Rest days
I know it seems counter productive when training for a half marathon distance to take days off. “Don’t I want to run as far as possible, as often as I can?”. Um, in a word, no. While it’s true that you need to get the miles onto your legs and body, equally important is rest. This means, if your schedule has a rest day in it – YOU TAKE IT. No running. Go to yoga or for a very leisurely bike ride, or do nothing at all, but do not run. Even if you feel like you would rock it today.
- Stretch + Learn to Love Your Foam Roller
100% I am guilty of neglecting the post-run stretch session in favour of moving on with my day (hello, hot shower + recovery smoothie), and it doesn’t take very long for signs of that biting me in the butt to show up in my running. You’ll want to check out this video (and really, all the others) on the Training Video Library of the half marathon website for a fantastic hurt-so-good foam roller exercise for your upper legs. There are opinions all over the place about when to stretch, for me I prefer to stretch on post-workout muscles and never “cold” (i.e. never before a warm up).
- Eat Well
I want to say that this one should be obvious, but I know us runners tend to believe that we can eat whatever we want whenever we want and all that matters is calories in:calories out. Yes, we need carbs and fats for fuel. Yes, protein helps our muscles recover. QUALITY of calories is perhaps that most important piece of this equation. One of my favourite eat right quotes is,”You are what you eat. So don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.” Our awareness of proper nutrition, from quality ingredients, is shifting. Three square meals a day, mindful snacks, lots of fresh water. Cook from scratch as often as you can, and don’t get your fuel where you get your fuel for your car.
- Eat Well 2.0
Do not be afraid to turn to whole foods for your running fuel. Though more commonly seen in the ultra running community (those who run distances longer than a full-marathon; 42.2 km/26.2 miles), peanut butter sandwiches, dates, broth and even homemade energy gels are showing up on road race courses more and more. While the work is done for you with the store-bought, pre-made gels, and they certainly do the trick on the race course, sometimes whole foods just sit in our bodies better while on the run. So, if a PB + J sounds about right for your long run fuel, give it a shot! *as with all fuelling methods, please “practice” your fuel before race day, there is nothing worse than discovering how quickly something moves through the system mid-race. Ahem.
- Cross Train + Strength Train
If your training plan does not include CT and ST days, you might want to give it a little re-jigging, even if that means dropping a run day (yes, I just said that). Check out our downloadable plans on the website, each of which shows an example of what a full week of training might look like. Strength training is pretty straightforward, but I always advise that one get assessed by a personal trainer so you can focus on your weak areas, learn proper form and avoid injury. Cross training would be any other form of cardio that isn’t running; swimming and bike riding (I’m a firm believer that this is how triathletes are born), spin class, etc.
I’m gonna go there. I think all runners should do some form of yoga. Not only does it give you a great core workout, a focused hour (at least) of stretching and breath work, but it also allows you to connect to your feet. We don’t always realise it, but our feet are a pretty important part of our running health; ask anyone who’s had a stress fracture in their foot, or plantar fasciitis, how important your feet are for running. Strengthening those bones and tendons in the feet, your ankles, will only benefit you.
One of my favourite yoga styles is Yin. While there is usually less core work, less standing, the restorative nature of the practice is amazing for a rest day; alternatively, or in addition, if you can get your legs up the wall for 15 minutes after a long run, even better. Sitting sideways so that you’re parallel to the wall, get your hips as close to the wall as possible, then windmill your legs into the air. Shimmy your butt/tailbone right up against the wall, use a bolster/pillow/block to lift your hips if you need the extra support, and hang out as long as you can.
- Recovery + Self-Care
You are working so hard. You are out there, kicking your butt, most days of the week. Your body is going to need some regular TLC and love. Make it a ritual. Make it something that you look forward to. Make it a sacred part of your week and do your best to protect it (self-care always seems to be the first thing to drop from the to-do list when we get busy or stressed). A good soak in a tub with epsom salts and essential oils, some body work with a RMT, a visit to Scandinave Spa here in Whistler, a pedicure with a good foot massage. You see where I’m going. Boys, you, too, can embrace the so-called more girly side of self-care; it’s definitely okay to get your bod worked on by a RMT, definitely okay to clean up those feet. Trust me, when you take care of yourself, especially when you’re working hard, it shows. We all deserve to feel amazing in our bodies.
So there you have it. The other training “shoulds”. I’d love to hear what your self-care routines are, the foods you’re trying for race day, your favourite cross-training activities. Comments always welcome!
Never Stop Exploring ❤,