Yesterday, I completed my first in-person race since 2019. I realize that there have been races here and there since then, but I didn’t feel comfortable racing in-person until I was fully vaccinated. I was also freaking sick of virtual racing (does anyone else feel this way?).
So, I chose the Run Y-town 5-miler as my welcome back to racing in-person. This event is always organized, and the weather is almost always wonderful. Even with the course changes due to a sinkhole on the original course, it was a really fun day.
Here’s the best part: I didn’t run. I ran about two tenths of a mile total throughout the five mile course. And you know what?
I see a lot of people starting their running journeys, and it makes my heart so happy. Running is a great way to maintain level and strong mental health, keep yourself healthy and in-shape (notice I didn’t say “skinny”), and get outdoors while maintaining good ol’ social distancing.
So, how do you get started safely, and what should you focus on during your first week as a member of the running community? What should you avoid? How much should you run? Keep reading — Coach Court has all the tips!
A common comment among marathoners is that when they found themselves around that dreaded 20 mile mark, they realized that if they physically stopped, they probably wouldn’t have been able to get started again. I agree, and I learned to walk — albeit slowly, at times — rather than stop. I, too, knew that if I stood still, that would be it for me.
Another friend who ran the 2019 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon said that he “made the mistake” of stopping sometime after mile 20 and felt his whole body “lock up.” I feel you, bro. I feel you.
As are many things marathoners hoard as life lessons, as is this: No matter what your goal is or what you are passionate about, you’re going to feel burnt out at some point. They key is not to stand still for too long.
As someone who been low-key running since May and is just started to really get back into training, here are my top 3 tips for those ebbs and flows in your running career.
As many know, I am now in the peak weeks of training for my first full marathon – the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5, 2019. This week, my long run is 18 miles. Next week…it’s the dreaded (but necessary) 20 miler.
Throughout training, I have made a few mistakes (okay, maybe more than a few) when it comes to recovery. When I began to take the rest/recovery days more seriously, I realize I was using a few key items and developing a few key habits that would probably help others.
Here are my top 5!
ALL The Tiger Balm. Tiger Balm is an OTC pain reliever that comes in a tiny glass gar (and trust me, guys – that tiny jar has lasted me nearly two years!). It works a lot better – and smells a lot more heavenly – than some other typical OTC analgesics. Tiger Balm is made from camphor, menthol, and (my fave) clove oil among others. There’s actually a pretty cool history behind this stuff, and you can read about it here.
In addition to using traditional Tiger Balm, I’ve also begun using the Tiger Balm patches and active gel. I use the patches on areas that typically tighten up, cramp, or knot easily (like my quads or IT bands).
That one day when I thought I was pretty much out of the game for my 16 miler, Tiger Balm helped me get it done. Highly recommended!
Textured roller/tennis ball. Foam rolling is great for larger areas such as the quads, hamstrings, and IT bands – but sometimes, you really need to work out a knot or focus on a smaller area/muscle group.
The texture of these massagers works better than a tennis ball; this recovery tool doesn’t slide around and stays put. So, if you’re rolling your foot for plantar fasciitis, you’d definitely want something like this. I’ve used it to roll and massage the heels of my feet, focus on certain areas of my quads or IT bands, etc. It’s great to have something smaller that can really target tight areas (that’s what she said).
Ice ice, baby. No really – a friend suggested I dip into an ice bath after running my 16 miler, and it helped immensely. Icing muscles can help with the following:
Ice reduces blood-flow which means it stops inflammation.
Because it can decrease inflammation, it can therefore decrease pain and soreness
A few different students have shown that a 15 ice bath increases coordination abd muscle strength.
I sat in the ice bath for about 15 minutes and I recovered A LOT quicker this week as far as soreness. I’m actually not sore at all today, and I even ran hill repeats 48 hours after my sixteen miler. I followed the ice bath with a hot shower because once you get the inflammation under control, heat can help get blood flowing which is also important for recovery.
PS: Stake N Shake has cheap and big bags of ice available through the drive-thru!
Simple carbohydrates + protein immediately after a long run. If you’re like me, you’re not starving when you finish your long-run. Hunger usually hits me later in the day. I have to force myself to eat after my long run, and if I can only stomach something small, I am going to make it worth it.
For me, that’s a simple carbohydrate (like white bread) and protein (like peanut butter). I find that by eating this combo, I am able to get some energy back and don’t feel quite as exhausted.
The next day is a different story – I literally eat everything in site.
Tylenol. Disclaimer: Do not start taking any new OTC medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
I usually take aspirin, but after my long runs, I take Tylenol. I’m usually a bit nauseated after all that running, and Tylenol is very easy on the stomach. I’m not a fan of Tylenol for any other ailment (I honestly think it sucks for everything else), but popping two Tylenol help the soreness.
Side note: Ladies, give me ideas for a new sports bra because mine cut into my shoulders so much that my neck hurts after running.
Hopefully these items help you as much as they help me!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something from a link in this, I may receive a commission.
I am not sponsored by any company in this post, but I did receive free items from Tiger Balm (although I have been using it and swearing by it long before).
This week has been mentally challenging as far as marathon training goes (I know; I know – it’s nothing compared to late April when I am logging 20 milers and all that…). Regardless of what’s to come, it was just tough. I was extremely hard on myself. I didn’t have very nice things to say to myself. And ultimately, I convinced myself that maybe I wasn’t ready to train for a full marathon.
I know I’m not the only athlete who has gone through this. We all reach those dips during training cycles where we question, “can I do it?”
Training plans may be somewhat unique, but generally, most include easy runs, long runs, workouts, and perhaps some strength and/or cross training.
Believe it or not, most training plans are missing something crucial to runner success…