Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jungle Run: Running Tips from a Non-Expert

Ah, a Sunday morning in Los Gatos! Women running in full makeup. THAT's Los Gatos style. You get em', girl!

I signed up for the Jungle Run on a whim because I needed one last long run to finish out my training. It was the right weekend, and the start line was only four miles from my house. (Which I drove. Sorry to disappoint.) Most of the route was on the Los Gatos Creek Trail, which I could have run on my own, but knew the race would push me a bit more. Plus it's always good to support local events. No expectations on this run, just training.

Well, I finished about 40 seconds off of my personal record, which is funny because I haven't really been *training* to do a half marathon. I actually thought I would be slower because I've been training slower and longer to get through Barb's Race. I was wrong. I guess if you want to run a better half marathon, you could train for an half Ironman. Easy, right? :/

If you are not already aware, the 40 seconds difference in time may have been a result of stopping to go to the port-o-potty at mile 5. It was also an opportune time to squish some electrolyte supplement down my gullet and take a sip of water at the aid station. Was that 40 seconds? Probably. Or maybe it made me faster? You know what they say about the horse that pees on the track right before the race. Ok, this was during the race, but whatever. Get up earlier in order to relieve yourself before the race instead of during the race. I'm not yet sure what to do about having to relieve yourself due to pre-race jitters. I only get this when I swim, unfortunately. Fortunately, you can pee in the water. (Everyone does it, don't judge.)

I've done enough half marathons to know how awesome I feel at mile 6, 7, 8, and 9 so I was pretty sure I was about to catch up to the people who I allowed to pass during this 40 seconds. Correct. I found all of them again, and even passed a few more. They were dying, and I was living the dream. Everyone passes me in the first three miles because I start slow and amp up later - right about the time 80% of racers slow down.

Most runners start way too fast and find themselves huffing and puffing too soon into the race. Pay attention to breath because it's connected to heart rate. Trail running has helped me understand this immensely!  If you are huffing and puffing out of control, you are probably going too fast. When running up a steep and complicated hill, I only step as fast as I can breath comfortably, and that could even mean a fast hike up a steep switchback. Hearing yourself breathe is also an excellent reason NOT to run with music. But, I understand the need for some Nicki Minaj for sure.

Trick yourself into believing anything that will get you through it.  Finally, the last three miles are always hard but I try to think of it as running a 5k. Obviously I've already run 10 miles, so my legs are not fresh, but I try to put myself into the mindset of a shorter, faster race as much as possible. Instead of thinking of it as 3 miles, I think, "In (insert time here) minutes, I will be done. I can hold out for just that long, right?" A former co-worker of mine gets up at 4 AM to go to the gym every morning in the dark, and I thought (still think) that she is crazy. She told me, "I just convince myself that it's still the nighttime."

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