It's just about the mid-point of my training for the More Half-Marathon. So far so good! In slightly over 6 weeks, I’ll cross the finish line and will certainly feel very accomplished. Even though walking a half-marathon may not sound as impressive as running a half-marathon, for me it will represent something that made me push myself more than I normally would, and do something I wasn’t sure I could. Even if I’m the last one to cross the finish line, I know I’ll be proud! And I’m happy that I can share the fun with my two training partners and other friends I’m bound to run into.
Thankfully, the weather in New York City has been far better than I expected this winter. Relatively mild temperatures and little snow (knock on wood) have definitely made it easier for me to fleece up and pound the pavement in the great outdoors. Spending more time outside has not only helped me train better, but it has helped me avoid the winter slump I usually get into when I spend more time inside, exposed to less daylight. But I can’t attribute my positive mood to just the weather—I also have to thank my favorite morning radio show, The Morning Mashup, on Sirius Hits 1, for their great music and banter. Listening to the show during my solo walks has helped me enjoy my training even more (if you see a silly 5’2” girl in a black and pink ski jacket cracking up on her walk in Central Park, that’s me).
Training for the half-marathon has forced me to really plan my workouts ahead of time. It has also taught me to roll with the punches. Sometimes circumstances (a sick child, change in schedule, a work trip, or feeling under the weather) have precluded me from doing my workouts as planned. But I’ve learned that you don’t need equipment to exercise (you can do squats, lunges, or core work anywhere), and thankfully my treadmill at home has been a great back up to squeeze in a quick walk (and catch up on some favorite television shows like American Idol, Smash, and The Voice). Although I rely on regular exercise for all those feel-good endorphins, when I can’t do as much or any formal exercise I make sure to fit in some extra leisure-time walking. I also know that rest days are important, and that missing a workout here or there won’t kill me.
To best prepare for the half-marathon, I've gradually increased my mileage on one day each week (I am now up to 9 miles). I take those walks on hilly terrain in Central Park, where the race will take place. It’s my hope that training on the actual course will make it seem less daunting—even old hat—come race day. I do shorter walks on other days (usually between 3 and 5 miles), and try to do resistance training and core work (and I often refer to Guide to Thrive by Vonda Wright, MD) at least twice a week. Even though walking is by far my favorite exercise, I have definitely incorporated more resistance training into my weekly workout. Over the last few months, I have rebuilt some upper body muscle that atrophied last year after a rough spell with my left wrist that ultimately led to surgery to remove a ganglion cyst.
The only small drawback of my training has been occasional lower back pain—likely a result of increasingly longer hill walks and lots of sitting as I write my articles, blogs, and next book. I also had slight knee pain one day this week. I have really tried to follow my body and rest when I think I need it. I have also done extra stretching and foam rolling and have had occasional massages that have been helpful. Setting an alarm to get up from my desk and move or stretch every 20 to 30 minutes has also helped.
My training plan for the next four weeks is to continue increasing my one long walk each week to 11 miles. I will also begin to time myself to make sure I’ll cross the finish line in less than 4 hours. (I don’t want to get kicked out of the race because I’m too slow!) During the last week or two before the race, I’ll stick to shorter 4-5 mile walks and round those out with resistance training and core work (and if I can get my DVD player to work, some new dance videos I bought).