As I’m sailing the deep blue seas of the Caribbean, I’ve asked a few special gals to guest blog for me. Today is the last day of my cruise. Sad face! As I’m spending the day lazily sailing back to Florida, sipping fruity drinks and relaxing, I have another great post for you.
Today’s post comes from Ashley, who blogs at That Super Awesome Blog. She also started the website, Your Super Awesome Life, where she empowers teen girls to live a life they love. Sounds pretty, well, awesome right? Her post today strikes a chord in me, as I’m still trying to decide if I have it in me to tackle a half-marathon someday.
While Stephany is off cruising for a few days and soaking up the sun, I offered to step in and take care of her blog. Hi, I’m Ashley and can usually find me over at That Super Awesome Blog. Since Stephany has been writing a lot about her journey to a healthier lifestyle, I thought I would share a bit about my journey too. Thanks so much for having me, Stephany!
Six months ago I decided to run my first half-marathon. Before that, I was not a runner and had never actually ran more than 2 miles at a time. I knew finishing 13.1 miles would be a challenge, but it was on my Life List and it was something I knew I wanted to accomplish. I also knew that in order to run the half-marathon, I would need to begin training, change my eating habits, and basically, change my lifestyle.
So, I made a plan.
I started with a training schedule. I decided I would run four days a week, do strength training/yoga one day a week, and take two days off a week to rest. At first I was strict with my schedule because I thought that would help me stay on track. But after a few months, I realized that some weeks I needed to switch it up if work was extra hectic or I had plans one evening with a friend.
My first few runs were brutal. Even though I was just running two or three miles, my legs felt heavy the entire time, my breathing was shallow, and it just wasn’t fun. But I stuck with it. I kept running. And after a few weeks, I started looking forward to my runs. I’m not saying it became easy, because it’s not. But I couldn’t wait to get out onto the trails, put on my ear phones, and zone out for a while. I began to love the way running makes me feel and the high that I get after finishing a few miles.
I also learned to be easy on myself. Of course I had to give myself motivation talks during the longer runs and keep reminding myself that I had 13.1 miles to run on race day, so I couldn’t completely wimp out. But I took walking breaks. When my breathing was too shallow or my calves were tightening up, I walked. I listened to my body. When my foot started hurting, I took a few days off to let it heal. I was easy on myself because I knew if I pushed too far, I would get hurt and would stop the entire training process.
Another huge change was surrounding my eating habits. Before training for my half-marathon I was conscious of what I was eating, meaning I didn’t eat fast food for every meal, but I didn’t really care how my body responded to anything I ate. After a few weeks of running, I learned to pay attention to how I felt after meals and which foods gave me more energy. My pre-run snack is a waffle with almond butter and a handful of raisins. I eat lots of fruits and veggies, in salads, smoothies, or green juices. I upped my protein and carbs intake and I found that helped build muscle and gave me more stamina during the longer runs.
I don’t think it was just one factor that helped me become a runner. The combination of a plan, determination, and extra focus on my body and how I fueled it all played a part.
And on February 19th, I ran my first half-marathon in 2 hours and 39 minutes!
I loved the entire experience so much that I’m planning to run another half in the fall and I cannot wait!
What steps are you taking to live a healthier lifestyle? Have you ever run a half-marathon?