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Conquering the Half-Marathon: Amanda Casgar, Newbie Runner

Amanda realized she has what it takes to be a runner. (Photo courtesy of Jason Todd)

In our March issue, you'll find four inspiring half-marathon stories from readers who went from couch to 13.1, from jogger to racer and more. For the remaining Wednesdays in February here on The Fit Stop, we're sharing more personal stories from women who tested our half-marathon training plan.

Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern

Amanda Casgar, 32, has attended just about every fitness studio in New York City known to (wo)man: Physique 57, CrossFit, FlyBarre, SoulCycle, even a Trapeze class, just to name a few.  But she’s never been able to convince herself she’s a “runner.”  But before she knew it, Amanda went from being the queen of classes to the girl who flies solo to get her sweat on. After following our beginner half-marathon training plan, she crossed the finish line of the MORE/FITNESS half at 2:47.20 time with a huge smile on her face.

We caught up with the new runner to find out what her biggest obstacles were and how she pushed past her fears to cross the line successfully.

Think Positive
Keeping a positive mindset while you’re pounding the pavement can make all the difference. On her first run, Amanda was consumed with thoughts like, “My knees hurt. My hips hurt. I’m only a mile in?” To counteract all the negativity, she sent an email to her running co-workers to find out what they think about for such long stretches of time.  As a result, she put her brain to work by picturing each body part she was using and how running benefits it.  With this new mental ammo, Amanda hit the treadmill repeating “rock hard core” in her head to make time fly by.

Discover Your Passion
Run for you! Running may not always seem like something you can be enthusiastic about, but it can benefit your true “fit” passions.  Amanda’s new “runner” habits improved her favorite fit activity, yoga. “I have super open hips and loose joints that make me born to practice yoga, but I always needed to tighten up and pull my hips backward,” she says. “Running has helped me get fit in all the right places to bring my practice right into the sweet spot.” Try different activities, like Spinning or bootcamp, to break up all the miles logged and keep you mentally in the game.

Stay Social
Amanda’s biggest obstacle was getting out of her own way and ditching the insecurities. She had never been brave enough to head out on a lone run and doubted she could push herself striding solo.  How’d she get through it? “I mentally prepared for my long runs by sharing my plans with as many people as possible,” she says. “Brunch with family and friends was planned with time to push hard and fit in all those miles beforehand.  I’ve never felt more deserving of that first beer!” Incorporating the people around you in your new fit plans will help you stay motivated, and once you hit a new milestone, celebrate with them!

Accessorize!
Having the right equipment can make a huge difference come race day. Make sure you stock up on the basics: A good pair of personally fitted running shoes, energy foods to snack on while on the road and tools for stretching are all must-haves for the serious runner. “Now that I believe I’m a runner, I’ve started accessorizing like one,” Amanda says.  She is now the proud owner of the “The Stick,” a great tool for rubbing out sore legs. “My IT bands never hurt so good!”

Be Proud
No matter what your finish time, you’ve accomplished something many only dream of! Amanda was worried about her pride getting the best of her, but she was also afraid she wouldn’t be able to finish the entire 13.1 running.  “I got great advice about pacing my run with walking intervals,” she says. “The competitor in me wants to run until I can’t anymore, but I wanted to just finish the race even more.”  Amanda’s racing strategy created possibilities for her she’d never expected, like experiencing the city in a whole new way and finishing faster than she ever thought possible. Set goals for race day, but remember to embrace the experience and soak in all of the positive energy from such a major accomplishment.

Now you tell us: What's your favorite race and why?

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