So you Want to Run a Half Marathon

by Chrissy on July 25, 2014

Good-Running-FormIt seems that once you hit a magical age, the focus shifts from Friday night bar gatherings to Saturday morning long runs. Nearly all of my friends have had that urge to cross a 5k, a half-marathon, even a marathon off their bucket list. I don’t judge. I’ve been that person. I’m still that person. My bucket list is endless.

I was the “early bloomer” in my group of friends in this respect, running the Army Ten Miler a few weeks before turning 24. Not bad, considering that I had run my first 5K just a little over a year before. Think I’m invincible? Think again.  Ten miles took around two hours… but my only goal was to finish and beat the bus that picked up those who didn’t hit the time limit. OK, so I may have been a little overweight and undertrained, but I finished.

I ran the very same race the next year, 15 pounds lighter, and still didn’t break two hours. So, what did I break? My hip. No, literally. Apparently, I developed a femoral neck stress fracture from overtraining and underfueling, trained on it for a month, and ran said 10-mile race before I decided it wasn’t a pulled muscle after all (and yes, I do have an absurd pain threshold).

It’s been almost 5 years since the stress fracture snafu, and in this time – I’ve finished 5 half marathons, a 15K, and a full marathon – all without managing to destroy my body in the process. So, I’ll let you in on the secret. It’s simple… but if you’re a serial dieter or even trying to maintain weight loss… it may be a tough sell – I know it was for me.

The truth is, if you want to train for a race of any considerable distance (essentially anything beyond a 10k), dieting is a no-no. Can you count calories consumed and keep track of your calories burned on an activity tracker? Sure – this is exactly how I handled marathon training, to make sure that I was eating enough. Should you be aiming for weight loss at this point? No. Your body needs adequate fuel to allow you to train and to allow your muscles to repair and recover. It’s like expecting your car to run with an empty fuel tank. Sooner or later, it’s just going to break down. I’ve had that happen to my cars – and my body.

If you’re ready to check a race off your bucket list, do yourself a favor and stay injury-free. Train smart, treat your body right, and it will amaze you with what you are capable of on race day!

Kathryn (Kate) Bubeck is currently a post-graduate student in the University of Alabama’s distance learning Nutrition program. Kate will graduate with her second bachelor’s degree in late 2015, following a 2006 degree in Health Behavior Management from the University of Delaware. An ISSA-certified personal trainer, Kate will also graduate from Central Arizona College in December with a certificate in Diabetes Care and Education, and ultimately hopes to pursue a career in clinical dietetics.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: