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Sensible Sports Nutrition: Running and enjoying the journey

As some of you know, I trained for and completed my first Half Marathon Saturday October 15, 2011.  In my younger years (high school) I ran sprints and hurdles in track along with all year round soccer.  I continued soccer through my college years and in my twenties through club and co-ed teams and also ran, mostly for exercise, right up until I had children.  I would say I’ve always been an athletic person by nature but running anything more than 200 yards really wasn’t my cup of tea.
As years passed on, I started my family and was very lucky to have two beautiful children seventeen months apart.  Boy did that put some stress on my body!  After three years of being pregnant and breast feeding you can imagine how off my game I was with the whole physical activity aspect of life. 
For a dietitian, who has always been active, you can imagine how lost I felt as I continued to put myself at the bottom of the priority list.  So, last October I went out and bought a treadmill.  My youngest was 20 months old and I was ready to get myself back to where I wanted to be.  I began running 3 miles four times a week and combining it with spinning (I had purchased a spin bike for myself the Christmas before).  As I continued to change eating habits, the last of my baby weight came off quite nicely and quickly and in April of this year I ran my first 5K. 
I have to say I loved the 5K.  I surprised myself and ran faster than I thought and the atmosphere is one that someone like me thrives in.  There’s nothing like a bunch of health conscious people cheering you on as you do something that most people despise.  I completed 2 more 5K’s after that and then ran an 8K July 3rd.    While running on vacation the next week, my buddy said, “You’d really like a half marathon.  You should think about doing one.”  Are you kidding me, a half marathon?  That is 13.1 miles and I’ve only ran 5 miles max.  Either way I thought and thought about it and when I came home I told myself, I’ll run 8 miles and see how I feel. If I can do this and feel good, I’ll train for a half.  I ran the 8 miles and felt good and voila I signed up for The Baltimore Running Festival half marathon.
When I crossed the finish line of the Half Marathon I was VERY happy.  I wasn’t as emotional when I finished was because I never doubted I could do this not even one time during the race.   I contribute that to the mental and physical training I completed.
I feel like my training was excellent and will share some of my tips for you to try if you plan on any endurance training in the future.
1)       Create your plan and stick to it.  It is imperative that you build your miles for the long runs slowly and do not skip these runs.  Your body will thank you at the end of the race when it’s familiar with the mileage.
2)      Do speed work.  Yes it sucks but it is very worth it.
3)      Focus on your nutrition and get it down during your training.  I tweaked this during my long runs until I got what was right for me.  Some do not need to eat prior to running and some do.  I found that I needed at least 15 grams of a carbohydrate with a little protein prior to long runs (anything over 8 miles for me). 
4)      Replenish your body after your runs.  Again, for me, it was very important for me to eat at least 30 grams of carbohydrates and some protein after my long runs.  I did faint once when I neglected to do this and the headache that I had after long runs without proper nourishment was horrific.
5)      Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Before every run I drank 7-10 ounces of water and for any of my   runs that were longer than 45 minutes I had a “hot” fanny pack I ran with to insure I drank a couple ounces every 15 minutes. 
A week after I finished my half marathon I signed up for the inaugural DC Rock N Roll half marathon, St Patty’s day next year!   I look forward to the journey and training to cut my time.  Who’s doing it with me?
Me after finishing the race

My team: Husband, daughter and son who is hiding

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