The Half-Marathon Diaries

Sticking to a New Stretching Routine

For the flexibility challenged like myself, this rope stretch proved impossible at first. (Photo courtesy of Karen Pearson)

Prior to training, I was beginning to feel a bit achy after my runs, no matter what distance they were. That paired with some serious back pain from sitting at a desk all day landed me in Dr. Shure’s chair at Madison Square Wellness. I wanted to get a consult on my alignment and what was going with my muscles in general so that once I started training my issues wouldn’t worsen. Below, Dr. Shure’s evaluation and course of action as I start to train in the upcoming weeks:

Interesting Findings:

  • My alignment is really out of whack! Dr. Shure had me lie down and reach my arms up over my head. The left side of my body did as it was told, elbow snug against the side of my head. The right side, however, was a little out of line (literally). Because I use my right hand to handle my mouse at work all day I had serious tension on the right side of my body, especially in my shoulder and upper back.
  • You might think alignment issues aren’t important to training, but Dr. Shure told me that by not stretching and planting myself in front of my desk without taking any breaks during the day, this would quickly affect my posture while running, which could then lead to other aches and pains down the road.

Stretches:

To help maintain vertical alignment, Dr. Shure gave me a series of stretches to incorporate into my workouts. Here are some you can do at home:

  • Pec Stretch: Start by standing in a doorway or next to a fixed object with arm lifted to the side at 90 degrees. Put full forearm on the door frame or object and step through, creating a stretch in the pec region. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with other arm.
  • Rope Stretch: Start by standing, holding rope with the right hand over and the left hand under. Actively reach right hand down back and give gentle assistance with left hand, exhaling and holding stretch for two seconds. Actively reach left hand up back as high as possible and give gentle assistance with right hand, exhaling and holding stretch for two second. Repeat for 10 repetitions, then switch hands and repeat.

Read more to see Dr. Shure’s stretching recommendations for my legs.

Read more


Meet Colleen, Our Half-Marathon Experienced Runner

Hello finish line, so nice to see you! (Photo courtesy of Brightcove)

Hi there! I’m Colleen, Web Editor here at FitnessMagazine.com and I am super excited to run my second More/Fitness Half-Marathon this year on April 15!

The last time I did this race in 2009 we had a freak day of weather that hit high 80 degree temperatures so early in the morning that New York Road Runners was forced to make the race non-competitive to protect runners from heat exhaustion and getting sick. That was the first half-marathon I ever ran, and I was terrified. I followed all the training rules by the book, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. There is a saying in racing, “Nothing new, tried and true.” This basically means that race day is not the time to eat or wear something you’ve never ran in before, just in case it upsets your stomach, causes chafing, etc. The entire time I trained I wore Under Armour Women’s Evo ColdGear Tights and nothing, not even the oppressing heat at 8:30 a.m. was going to pry them off my body for race day.

As you can guess, that was a big mistake. I finished the race but not without being very uncomfortable and very hot, something that could have been avoided if I had just worn shorts! Since that day I have tweaked the saying to include, “Nothing new, tried and true (unless it is 80 degrees outside and you are wearing pants!)”. I am excited to run the half this year with more running experience under my belt. Since that race, I’ve completed the ING NYC 2010 Marathon (that’s me crossing the finish line above!) and am gearing up to run another fall marathon in 2012.

Click read more to see what’s making Colleen nervous about this half-marathon.

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Meet Olivia, Our Half-Marathon Beginner Runner (and Biggest Loser Season 11 Champ!)

I went from this (left) to that (right), and now I'm ready to tackle my first half-marathon! (Photos courtesy of NBC)

First, I have to tell you how EXCITED I am to be doing this project for FITNESS Magazine. That being said I will totally admit that I am scared to death of running a half-marathon. I’m sure that might be surprising to most since I survived eight months with Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels on Season 11 of The Biggest Loser, but I’ve never run a half-marathon! A 5K yes, marathon NO.

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to figure out what I’m so scared of. Is it the distance? Is it the fear of the unknown? Am I scared I will get injured? Um, the answer is YES, YES, and Y-E-S! One thing I learned through my journey on The Biggest Loser is that when you face your fears head on there will always be growth, and you will probably learn something in the process. It’s funny, alongside that fear is some real, true excitement (told you I was nuts!). It seems crazy that both of those emotions can coexist in my body, but they very much do. I know that I can do this, but in true “Olivia Style” I take comfort in a plan. I know Hannah is somewhere rolling her eyes at this very moment.

Click read more to find out how Olivia is getting ready to start her training plan!

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The Half-Marathon Diaries Are Back!

running shoes and sneakers hanging

Photo by Brian Maranan Pineda.

The annual More/Fitness Women’s Half-Marathon is April 15, and FitnessMagazine.com will once again be featuring the personal stories of two women training for race day. There will be a novice runner, as well as an advanced runner…and, well, we don’t want to say too much…but you’ve seen one of them on your television before. (!!)

You can get more details about the half-marathon at morefitnesshalf.com, @morefitnesshalf on Twitter, or /morefitnesshalf on Facebook.

Check back soon to follow our runners’ tales of training!


Enjoying the Post-Race Glow

Marla warms up before conquering the race course!

Marla warms up before conquering the race course!

Mission accomplished! I hope all of you participating had as fabulous of a day as I did on Sunday. Crossing that finish line felt totally unreal, but I have to say, I was happy to finish when I did! If I had to run up another hill, I might have keeled over and died. How killer were they? I am going to have to start training now for next years race so that I can bust through them!

And how about that amazing weather? The sun was shining, the temperature was just right, and if you ask me, we could not have had a better day!

I started the race feeling really strong, but by mile six, I could feel my energy level start to wear down. I have tried using all of the different types of energy replacements in the running world, but have found that none of them really help me—and actually make me cramp—so I decided against them on race day. I probably should have been more prepared, but after a quick sip of Gatorade at the refueling station and I was feeling a little better. The best feeling of the whole race was getting to mile 12 and realizing that I only had one more mile to go. I think I started running faster in hopes of finishing sooner! Such a feeling of accomplishment!

I wasn’t really prepared for the soreness to kick in, but to reward myself, I took Monday off from work (so happy that I did because I could barely walk up and down stairs!), and treated myself to a massage and a mani/pedi. I would say that I totally deserved it!

How did you recover from Sunday’s race?


Ideal Race Weather “In Our Neck of the Woods”

Susan and Al Roker hang out and enjoy the beautiful weather before the race.

Susan and Al Roker hang out and enjoy the beautiful weather before the race.

Yahoo! I did it!

We couldn’t have had more perfect weather for race day. I guess we got payback for the last two years! Before the race, I was thrilled to have the chance to meet Al Roker and thank him for the lovely conditions.

Overall, the race went well, and most importantly, I finished! I must admit, I did not go into this race in the same mental and physical state as the NYC Half I ran on a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, due to a last minute obligation that consumed most of my weekend, coupled with poor sleep, I was tired and sore before I even began. However, once I got to Central Park, the crowds of women and sunshine motivated and energized me. Central Park looked stunning and it was so alive with positive energy.

While running I did all of the things that have worked for me in the past such as eating GU beans and stopping at every hydration station for a few sips of either water or Gatorade. However, it was a different day and a different race and I soon realized those thing weren’t working the same for me as in the past. Instead of energizing me, the beans left me feeling extremely thirsty and were sticky in my mouth.

For the last several miles, I had a bad cramp (something I’ve never had during a run) and I also felt a great deal of pain in my hip and knee. I really think this was my body’s way of telling me that I’ve been too hard on it and it probably wasn’t the best idea to run two half-marathons back to back. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I stretched at the water stations and decided to just run through it. Despite my challenges, I was happy with my time and ended up having fun.

I especially was so glad to be a part of Team Hole in the Wall. Since I had committed to raising money for this amazing charity, nothing was going to get in my way of finishing this race. During some of the hills and toward the end, my commitment to Team Hole in the Wall is what kept me going. If my running can help make a sick child happy, then it’s worth every step to me!

For those of you who participated, how did the race go for you? Did you have to overcome any unexpected events along the way?


Gearing Up to Run

Marla will soon receive her hard-earned medal. (Photo by John Herr)

Marla will soon receive her hard-earned medal. (Photo by John Herr)

Two more days to go! Hope you are all ready for the big day. It’s crazy how fast time flies! Just 10 short weeks ago I was only running two to three miles and now I am gearing up to run 13. I am so proud of myself for getting this far. All that’s left to do is cross that finish line!

This past week’s training has been pretty low-key. I only ran and did some core work on Tuesday, and have decided to give myself the rest of the week off. I want to let me body repair itself so that I am in tip-top condition on Sunday morning! I have also been incorporating more carbs into my diet these past couple of days (loading up!) so that I can store some much needed energy. Instead of eating two servings of carbs a day like Stephanie Middleberg, my nutritionist, had me doing in the beginning of my training, I am now eating around three servings of carbs a day. Bring on the pasta baby! What are you planning on having for your pre-race dinner?

Before 8 a.m. on Sunday (race time), be sure to check out the expo, where you have to pick up your race number, as well as plenty of other fun goodies! I’ll be working in the Digital Lounge, where you can check out the new Fitness iPad app, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Feel free to stop by! I would love to meet you.

Best of luck to all participating on Sunday!


Six Secrets to Race Day Success

Susan's making sure that she's hydrated before the half-marthon. (Photo by Jack Miskell)

Susan's making sure that she's well hydrated before the half-marthon. (Photo by Jack Miskell)

I’ve done just about everything I can to prepare my body and now it’s time to let the excitement set in. The next couple of days are all about relaxing and carb loading—my favorite parts!

Nutritionist Stephanie Middleburg and I discussed my past races and how to make this one the best yet. She shared some tips with me about what to do and eat during the few days before the race:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Try to get extra sleep
  • Stretch
  • Carb loading is great, but don’t go out of control or eat foods that could bother your stomach on race day
  • Fill your meals with nutrient dense foods and complex carbs (some good options include bananas, sweet potatoes, nuts, whole wheat pasta and quinoa)
  • Most importantly, if whatever you have been eating or drinking before your long runs has been working for you, don’t try something new on race day

Great advice, which I know I’m going to be following from now through Sunday! I’m sure all of the hard work those of you in training have put in will pay off, and I hope you enjoy the race. Talk to you Monday after the half-marathon!


Stretching Out the Last Week of Training

Time to stretch and prepare for the race. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Time to stretch and prepare for the race. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

We are down to the final week! I can’t believe that the big day is almost here. The past 10 weeks have flown by a lot quicker than I had expected them to, but I am happy to say that I am ready to do this! There’s no turning back now. How are my fellow half-marathon trainers feeling?

After running 10 miles last Saturday, I could sense that my body needed a little break. I was tired and needed a few days to rest. To stay active though, I took a dance class on Monday night at JoAnn’s Dance Studio in South Plainfield, NJ (I danced there for 18 years!), and I made sure to pop in an abs DVD every morning before work, to strengthen my core. Later in the week I picked my running back up, but kept it in the five mile range. I dedicated Sunday for my last long run before race day, and ran 8 1/2 miles. I was hoping to get in 10 miles again, but the wind was pretty harsh, so instead of pushing myself to the point of possibly getting sick or hurt, I called it quits and am crossing my fingers for nice weather on Sunday! As we move into this last week, I plan on keeping my  runs light and quick, sticking to no more than four or five miles.

On a side note, in one of my first posts, I mentioned that I had gotten stretched by Nick Nicholaides, who is a Fascial Stretch Therapist. I went for a stretch session again on Saturday morning and could totally feel the difference. Prior to being stretched, my muscles were tight, especially on my right leg (I am a righty). My muscles felt longer, lighter and not as tight after the hour session. Fascial Stretch Therapy is such a great stretching technique for athletes, especially runners, and I strongly recommend looking into it for after race day! I know I’m definitely going to need it.

Have a great last week of training everyone! We’ve all come this far and are almost there. I’ll see you all at the starting line!


The Final Race Countdown

Ideal weather for a run on Sunday! (Image from weather.com)

Ideal weather for a run on Sunday! (Image from weather.com)

The big day is quickly approaching. Are you getting excited, nervous? Are you ready?

My adrenaline high after the NYC Half-Marathon gave me such an energized start to the week! I was sore, but did not feel any pain. I took fours days off from all exercise and focused on stretching and trying to rest. Then on Thursday, I ran five miles and felt tired and tight. So I listened to my body and decided not to push it over the weekend. I ran seven miles and felt OK. I didn’t want to overdo it and also wanted to conserve my energy for the upcoming race!

This week I plan on doing a few short runs, stretching and a working in a bit of cross-training. And I’m of course looking forward to the carb loading!

As I’ve mentioned before, in regards to weather, I’ve had back luck with the More/Fitness Half-Marathon! In 2009 it was a balmy 95 degrees, while 2010′s race was on the other end of the spectrum: it poured and was very chilly. I already checked out the weather forecast and am thrilled to see that “perfect running” weather is predicted. I’m not 100 percent confident (as we know, these things change a million times and frequently aren’t accurate). However, I’m trained and ready!  Rain or shine, I am committed and I am ready to rock this race.

I know that those of you who have been following along with the training program will too. You’ve trained hard, so enjoy every minute. You deserve it!