Running My Second Half-Marathon

run disneyI feel like I’ve been training since the day I started running, which was not too long ago. I took my first running steps last February when I decided to start a Couch-to-5K program. Now, I’m getting ready to run my second half-marathon, less than a year later.

I say I feel like I’ve been training since I started running because I really have. I began the Couch-to-5K program with the intention of training for my first 5-K. Before I even toed the starting line of my goal race, I was registered for a four miler on the Fourth of July. Then, about a week after finishing that race I registered for my first half-marathon in September.

It wasn’t until after my half, when I decided I needed to cool off a bit, that I felt lost. I did some 5-Ks but I craved the longer distances. In November, as winter started to set in, I decided I’d come up with a new goal of training for a sub-50 minute 10-K. Up until that point, all of my running goals had been based on distance so I figured, in an effort to get faster and bring purpose back to my runs, I’d set a new goal.

My sub-50 10-K training was going really well and before I knew it my average paces were dropping from the familiar and comfortable 9:50/10:00 per mile to 8-minute miles. I was getting faster and I liked it but then I was presented with the opportunity to run the Disney Half-Marathon.

It didn’t take much coaxing from my co-workers to get me to register with the Runner’s World Challenge but I was still a little hesitant because I would only have six weeks to train and my longest run since my half-marathon in September barely broke 7 miles.

But I registered anyways and started to increase my long run mileage on the weekends and my midweek mileage runs went from 3 miles to 5 miles. Last weekend, I did a 9-mile long run and surprised myself with paces around 8:40/8:50 per mile! I couldn’t believe it because when I was training for my first half-marathon all of my times were in the 10-minute mile range.

I’m not trying to say I’m some gifted runner, because I’m not, I’m a very average runner and I still have a lot to learn. But it’s amazing what a new goal, in my case the sub-50 10-K, can do to you. I’m so looking forward to the Disney Half-Marathon and can’t wait to meet the rest of the Challengers to hear their stories!

Training for the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon!

It’s true folks, I’m beginning to train for the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon!! I think it’s also true that I’ve officially become obsessed with running. But on Monday, my cousin, who has been training for the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon with me, e-mailed me about training for the Philly Marathon. At first, I thought she was crazy because we’ve yet to run our first half-marathon and now we’re going to start training for a FULL marathon! What?! But then I was intrigued and I started to look into it. We have 15-weeks until race day and after looking at a bunch of training plans, many of them range from 14-18 weeks. Also, since we’ve already been training for the half marathon, our long run mileage is up to 12-miles. Not too shabby. I also found out that the Philly Marathon is a perfect starter marathon because of the flat terrain. So, after very little coaxing from my cousin, we made the decision to start training.

I realize this is overly ambitious but I’m up for the challenge. I think training for the half marathon has already taught me so much about my body and how to train for long distances. I know I need to stick to the training plan because I tend to get overly excited and run more days than I’m supposed to. Oops. This time around I will only run on run days and actually rest on rest days to avoid injury.

I also really, really want to focus on my nutrition because after last night’s long run I realized I’m not eating enough for the amount of calories I’m burning. I eat super healthy but need to add more protein and carbs to my diet. I also am starting to explore the mysterious world of protein shakes, something I always thought was for gym juiceheads. But apparently, tons of runners have post-run protein shakes to build up muscle, so I will too!

I am still mulling through some training plans but have found a pretty good one from the Runner’s World Smart Coach. Since I’ve already done my long run this week I’m going to focus on strengthening and maybe a short run this weekend. I’m pretty excited about this not only because it’s a huge deal but I’ve come so far since I started running in March! The support I’ve received from family, friends and especially my wonderful readers and fellow fitness bloggers, has really made me realize I can do this. Thank you for your support and here goes nothing! 26.2 miles of nothing!

#PlankADay challenge is still on

3 minutes and 4 seconds! #plankaday

A few weeks ago I told you all I’d be taking on the challenge of doing a plank every day. So far, I’ve maintained the challenge and done up to five variations of planks EVERY DAY! I’ve definitely noticed results and I have some clear definition on my abs now which is pretty exciting.

Planks are such an easy and beneficial exercise. They really get at your inner abs as opposed to crunches which really just work your surface muscles. Also, having a stronger core helps with running in terms of alignment and balance.

I have a few variations of planks that I do regularly.

  • Standard planks- this is a typical plank where you get on your elbows and hold. I usually hold for at least one minute but lately I’ve been trying to see how long I can last. The longest one so far was just over three minutes!
  • Side planks- for a side plank you want to lay on your side, stack your legs and lift up using your obliques and elbow for support. Which ever arm is free you can either put your hand on your hip and hold it behind your head. I usually hold these for 30 secs on each side.
  • Alternating leg planks- for this variation, get into a standard plank pose, hold for 10 secs then lift your right foot about a foot off the ground, hold here for 10 secs, place your foot back down and lift your left foot off the ground and hold for 10 secs. Then, place your left foot back on the ground and hold the plank for 30 more second. Feel the burn!
  • Knee to elbow- for this plank, you want to get in standard plank position and bring your right knee to your right elbow and then place your foot back on the ground. Then bring your left knee to your left elbow and put your foot back on the ground. It feels silly but can really work your obliques. Naturally your butt is going to pop up a bit while doing this but do your best to keep it down.
  • Elbow to floor side planks- this is a toughy but SO great! First get into standard side plank position and place your free hand behind your head, like you would for a crunch. Make sure you are stabilized and then try to reach the elbow of your free arm to the floor. You don’t have to touch the floor with your elbow but if you can, that’s even better!

After each plank I like to stretch out my core by doing a simple yoga child’s pose stretch. As always, with planks you want to stay stiff as a board and don’t let your bum pop up! Are you doing the #plankaday challenge or do you have any other plank variations? If so, let me know in the comment section or tweet to me @FitHappyGirl.

Fit Girl takes on #PlankADay challenge

I have always loved ab workouts but it’s hard to get deep into the abdominal muscles by doing just crunches. So I am taking on the FitFluential #plankaday challenge. The challenge is simple- complete one plank every day and slowly increase the amount of time the plank lasts each day- the results, fantastic!

According to Live Strong, plank exercises are part of isometric training. In laymen’s terms this means “contracting your muscles against stationary resistance.” Planks and other isometric training can help you get past strengthening plateaus, according to the article, and build mental endurance. As opposed to crunches, planks get at the inner abdominal muscles which is really where the strength comes from.

There are many variations on planks but I’ll show you those in posts later on this week. If you think you’re up for the #plankaday challenge then start off by doing a 30-secon plank each day. After doing a plank you want to be sure to stretch out your back and abs. I like going into the yoga position, child’s pose, for a nice long stretch. Also, let me know how you’re doing and tweet your progress to me @FitHappyGirl and @FitFluential with the hashtag #plankaday.