Work Out

Lessons From My First Half Marathon

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half marathon lessons

Last week I ran my first half marathon. It was amazing, empowering, incredible – and it was also a huge learning experience. While I trained for the race solo, I did a lot of reading, but of course no amount of reading can prepare you for the time you cross the start line for a 13.1 challenge for the first time. As I prepare for my next half on November 17, these are some of the most important things I will keep in mind, as taught to me by fellow runners and discovered on my own.

There is no shame in crying for your mom: There was this great couple I ran with for almost the entire race. He had clearly been the runner in the pair, and she was just trying to finish. At the mile 11 water stop, she said “I WANT MY MOM!” I couldn’t stop laughing. Whatever gets you through the hard parts!

There is no shame in crying: It’s no secret that I’m a very emotional person.The slightest twinge of feelings, happy or sad, can send me spiraling into a sobfest. (You should have seen me watch the last episode of Glee.) I expected that I would make it through the entire race and cross the finish line while ugly crying. Instead, I got teary along the route. To get through the miles, I’d written down 13.1 people on my arm and thought about someone different along each mile. There’s nothing wrong with crying – whether you’re emotional or in pain.

There is no shame in walking: A very small percentage of people can run for three hours straight. Don’t let yourself feel bad about slowing down and don’t let anyone else, either.

There is no shame in listening to your body: I’m still upset about the nosedive at mile 10, but I had to listen to my body. If you don’t do this, you’re asking for even more problems.

There is no shame in crossing the finish line and asking “WHERE IS THE MEDICAL TENT”: I listened to my body, but not really soon enough. At first I was a little embarrassed to be hobbling into the medical tent (bless those Cleveland Clinic trainers!) but as I sat surrounded by runners MUCH more fit and sporty than I am, I realized that it’s okay to need a little TLC post-run.

There is no shame in singing: I believe that you should use every resource possible to get you through a run, whether it’s a fast two-mile jog after work or a half-marathon. My biggest resource is music and you can bet that I sang and puffed along to my phone as it played song after song to keep me moving. (My fellow runners might want me to believe there is a little shame… I just don’t have any.)

There is no shame in using people: wait, that’s not what I mean. I mean there’s nothing wrong with using the runners around you – whether it’s for motivation, inspiration, pacing, or general chit chat to get through the race. I will probably never forget the great camaraderie from Cleveland and the help I got from fellow runners!

Going into my next half in four weeks, what other advice do you have?

I also want to thank everyone for the supportive tweets and texts regarding my last post. It’s tough, but I’m dealing. Enjoying the good things, like having paid off all my dental bills! Holla!