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Conquering the Half-Marathon: Taya Rabinowitz, A New PR

Taya blew her old PR out of the water, and you can too! (Photo by 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 Kate Branciforte, editorial intern After 10 weeks, Taya Rabinowitz completed FITNESS’ half-marathon intermediate training program, ready to run her third half-marathon. Using motivation from past racing experiences to gear up for an event she could be proud of, Taya laced up and crushed her old PR (personal record) of 1:53 by three minutes, clocking in at a 1:50.20! Taya filled us in about all of her race-conquering secrets, including her unconventional strength-training workout and how she was able to push through the tough days.

Schedule Stickers She’s been running since middle school, but Taya’s training was never consistent unless she had something pushing her, like an impending race on the schedule. “I work long hours during the week, so getting in weekday exercise is sometimes tough when I’m not training for anything specifically,” Rabinowitz says. Getting in your daily dose of sweat requires real commitment. At the end of each week, write down when you’re going to work out, and maybe even what you plan on doing. Treat this like you would a business event or presentation—that way, if people try to book something with you during your scheduled sweat session, you can tell them you already have an appointment.

Marathon Motivators It’s always good to have a role model, and watching the elite runners from the sidelines during the New York Road Runners (NYRR) New York City Half-Marathon sealed the deal for Rabinowitz. “They don’t even look like they’re working that hard, but you can’t get a photo because they go by so fast!” Your idol doesn’t have to be an elite athlete or celebrity (but it doesn’t hurt!) . We often turn to bloggers and others in the healthy living community for a dose of fit-spiration!

Snowy Strengthener Here at FITNESS, we’re always looking for new, unconventional ways to squeeze in a workout. Taya’s fallback? Shoveling snow! “One day, I missed my long run because my husband and I went to his parents’ house to remove three tons of snow from their roof. I didn’t realize how heavy frozen water is to lift,” she jokes. “My new plan is to start Taya’s Snow Removal and Boot Camp service.” She described one of her three-hour shovel sessions as an “awesome total-body workout!” Look for other ways to sneak in a strength-training session throughout the day, like adding a quick set of calf raises at the top of a staircase or doing wall push-ups while making photocopies.

Buddy Up Taya knows there’s strength in numbers, so every week she joined her local Niketown running group to push her workouts to the next level. “My first run was a lot of fun,” she says. “For someone very accustomed to enjoying running as a solitary experience, it was nice to see how everyone knew each other. I definitely pushed myself while running with a group a bit more then I usually do on my own.” If you’re feeling lonely on the roads, grab a friend, roommate or significant other the next time you need to pound the pavement.

The Kicker The ending of the race is the most exciting part, so no matter how tired you are, the energy can help prep you for a strong finish. Try Taya’s tactic: Target people in front of you and try to chase them down, step by step, breezing by them one by one. Or, try sticking to the same pace by picking someone ahead of you and keep them in your sight the entire time. “I had no idea one tenth of a mile was so long, but once I saw the finish clock I went for a dead sprint. It might be a race of hours and minutes, but it’s still fun to pick off some people in the chute!” To add to the excitement, see if you can recruit your family and friends to stand near the finishing chute. A familiar face with encouraging words, especially near the finish line, will help you bust out your best sprint and finish strong.

Now you tell us: What are some of your best racing tips?