Author Archives: coachchristinawood

IT.IS.HOT!!! It could be just my imagination, maybe global warming or maybe because it’s the first time I’ve trained for a marathon this early in the summer, but I swear this is the hottest it has ever been! Every time I come back from a run, regardless if it is a quick little 3-5 miler or long run, I am absolutely drenched and drained! I wish I had some magic formula to totally beat the heat and have amazing runs year round, but despite all my efforts and experience, the summer months are still pretty tough. I have, however, learned a few ways to work around and/or with the heat and humidity to survive these brutal summer runs and thought I would take a second to share…

Stay Hydrated

Although the most obvious piece of advice for summer running, and essentially for any activity year round, it certainly does not hurt to be reminded. Proper hydration is key for performance and recovery so be sure to place a huge emphasis on it, especially as the temperatures rise! I went into a little more detail in a past post about hydration, but I would like to point out a couple of things I to stay hydrated, especially during the summer months. First and foremost, I make sure I am constantly drinking water throughout the day, and increase my water intake the day before, the day of and the day after a long run. And speaking of those long runs, I make sure to have some Nuun Hydration in my Orange Mud hydration vest. Hydration of the utmost importance and should NEVER be neglected, so do not “stay thirsty my friends” and be sure to drink up!

Out Run the Sun

Summer time means earlier sunrises. This means you can get even earlier for those morning miles, yey…or not hehe. Though many may not be quite as bright eyed and bushy tailed this time of day, it may be the only time run in before the sun is up and scorching. Getting as many miles possible in before the sun is fully up is not only a great way to beat the heat but the perfect way to start your day! I personally love a good early morning run. There is something so beautiful in watching the sun rise and getting to witness the start of a brand new day. It also gives me a great sense of accomplishment knowing what I have conquered for the day before many are even out of bed! If waking up early is not your thing right now, I can (almost) assure you that if you focus on the great things early morning runs have to offer, you’ll soon grow to love it!

Slow Down

Probably not what you want to hear when you’re training so hard to get ready for your Fall races. But pulling back on the intensity of your runs (especially the long ones) may be what you need to get through the hot summer months. The intense heat and humidity can certainly take a toll on your body and pace, so don’t get discouraged if you find yourself feeling a little sluggish out on the trail. Pace may need to be adjusted by up to a minute or more depending on the temps and humidity. So don’t beat yourself up if you have to slow down a little in order to still get the miles in. Although I must admit, every single summer, I get a little frustrated when my long runs are slower the other months, and I even have a “freak out moment” as if it were my new norm. But then I’m reminded that despite my slower pace now, I know what I am capable of and that if I stay dedicated to my mileage and training plan, it will pay off. Always be sure to train hard, but more importantly, train smart!

Take It Indoors

Though you may not be a fan of the treadmill, sometimes it is the necessary evil when the weather is just not conducive for an outside run. As a runner down here in Florida, I have grown to love my “dreadmill” when I need to get some mid-day miles in during the summer time. (Also, as a working mom, sometimes it’s the only way I can get a run in). Whether it is the one in my den or a trip to the gym, I actually (somewhat) look forward to hitting up the ‘mill for some miles and me time. I personally LOVE music, so all I need for an enjoyable treadmill run is some good tunes (and water of course). While at the gym, I have TV’s in front of me so it is a great time to catch up on the news and sports (and the occasional talk show). Other ways I have passed the time on the treadmill is listening to podcasts or books on tape, watching some NetFlix on the iPad, or even chatting with a friend on the treadmill next to me at the gym. Of course it not the same as running on the trail, but when that trail is pushing 110 degrees, that treadmill doesn’t seem so bad after all!

Why Not Tri?

A triathlon may not be your thing, but cross-training with some biking and running is a great way to beat the summer heat. Taking a dip in the pool or whizzing down the trail on your bike is certainly much cooler than pounding the hot pavement during a run. It will provide great cross-training, a new challenge, and potentially a new love in multi-sports!?!

Embrace the Suck

Last but not least, it is freaking hot and there ain’t nothing we can do about it. And with several weeks (actually months for us Floridians) of summer to go, it’s only going to get hotter. I hate to say it, but we just need to suck it up and push through the best (and smartest) way we can. Be grateful you are able to do what you love, even if it a little warmer than we prefer, and know that all your hard work now will pay off in the Fall!

Good luck and happy training everyone!

Why We NEED Rest Days

Every now and then our body tells us we need to slow down and take an additional rest day and that is perfectly ok!  There are several physiological as well as psychological reasons why we should schedule regular rest days.  Here are few great reasons why it’s so important, and why you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you have to take an extra day here and there if you’re body is begging for it.

1. Let Your Muscles (Re)grow
When we engage in strenuous physical activity our muscles break down.  It’s during that time that our muscles repair themselves, becoming stronger and more efficient.  Your muscles need that time to rebuild, without it they will continue to tear.  This continuous break down of your muscles leads to several issues (as stated below) but most importantly it will negatively effect the improvements to your strength  you are working so hard for.  This is also why it is important not to train the same muscle groups on consecutive days (when it comes to weight lifting).  So when it comes to cross training, be sure to alternate your strength training days and do not neglect the importance of a rest day!

2. Prevents Fatigue
We exercise so that can look good, be stronger but more importantly to feel good.  Exercise, along with proper nutrition and sleep, help boost our energy levels and our mood.  But there is such thing as too much of a good thing.  When we over-train and neglect rest, our bodies become fatigued.  This causes us to lose energy, have trouble sleeping and it even effects our mood.  It becomes a vicious cycle because when we are fatigued, we will not have the energy to workout.  Without the energy to workout, we will not meet our goals and of course our mood will be negatively effected by that as well.  Listen to your body, take rest days and your body will thank you for it with the energy it needs to keep going in the gym, out on the trail and in life!

3. Prevent Mental Exhaustion
Your mind can get just as burnt out as your body.  Life is all about balance.  We have to be able to physically and mentally enjoy what we do otherwise it will soon feel more like a daunting task than enjoyable activity.  Taking proper rest not only helps you physically, but emotionally as well.  It helps prevent boredom, rekindle your hunger for exercise (you know you miss it when it’s gone ;-)), and of course recharge your psyche.  Not to mention when you are physically tired, your brain cannot function at full capacity, so rest days are win-win for body and mind.

4. Keep Your Immune System Strong
Over-training has been known to weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to fatigue and illness.  When you engage in consistent strenuous activity, your body’s immune system is there to help make the necessary repairs to your muscles and joints.  Without proper rest, your immune system can not keep up with the demands you are putting on your body.  Without an efficient immune system, you are more likely to become ill and then you will have no choice but to take additional rest days to re-cooperate.  Do not wait until you’re already sick to take rest days, be sure to take them weekly in order to prevent a hit to your immune system.

5. Injury Prevention
From running to weight lifting, and everything in between, rest days help prevent the overuse of muscles and joints.  Without allowing the proper rest, this overuse will eventually make you more susceptible to injury.  There is only so much our muscles and joints can take at any given time before they begin to wear down.  It is important you not only allow yourself regularly scheduled rest days, but also that you are listening to your body when it is telling you that you have had enough. Pushing ourselves through extreme fatigue and pain will only set us back in the long run because we will become injured and, of course, have no choice but to rest then, whether we like it or not.

The key to rest days is to schedule them in your regular workout routine.  Chose a day of the week where it will fit best and commit to it.  If an opportunity arises for a race, workout or strenuous physical activity, plan in advance and reschedule your rest day, but don’t skip it that week.  Also, it is tremendously important that you listen to your body.  Some times it will be begging you to slow down and take an extra day or two of rest.  Trust me here, a few days off will certainly not set you back in your goals.  In fact, the much needed rest will have you coming back stronger than before and ready to go out and crush it!

8 Tapering Essentials

Greetings, Coach Christina here and I’m in the final countdown for marathon number 5 which means full out taper madness!  I am by no means a pro at this, even with 4 full marathons, several half marathons, countless mid-distance races and even a few triathlons under my belt, but I have certainly become much more comfortable and confident in the days leading up the the big event.  Don’t get me wrong, the nerves still can get the best of me, but fortunately not quite as bad as they did in the past.  This of course, is thanks to experience as well as becoming more proficient at tapering.  Having learned from my mistakes as well as kept what I found to have been successful, I am continually getting more and more relaxed and ready for the race rather than freaked out like I often did in the past.  Although I do believe the tapering process will differ not just for every person but also for every race, there are definitely some key essentials that can be helpful for anyone in taper mode.  So here are some things that continue to be helpful for me and hopefully for you and your next race as well.

1. Taper Cross Training Too
Regardless of your training program, one thing is certain, you will need to decrease your mileage and intensity in the last few weeks leading up to your big event.  You do this to ensure you have fresh legs and are not over trained come race day.  If you’re like me and a big fan of hitting the weights, swimming, spinning, etc., you will want to apply these same principles to your cross training.  Those last couple of weeks before your half or full marathon is not the time to max out or try a new intense workout routine.  Your muscles need time to regenerate post workout and this can take several days.  While your muscles are working hard to rebuild, you may experience soreness, feel tired and have decreased range of motion, all of which can effect your running from form to stamina.  Now, I am a huge fan of going hard in the weight room and continue to do so all throughout marathon training.  But as my event approaches, I start to scale back, especially with lower body exercises to ward off soreness as well as decrease the risk of injury.  You certainly don’t want to be insanely sore, or worse, hurt come race day!

2. Loosen Up
Being sore and tight on the day of your race can not only lead to sub par performance but can also hinder your recovery.  Tight muscles often lead to weak muscles, so it is important that you are proactive about keeping your muscles loose and your joints limber.  Foam rolling, dynamic stretching and yoga are staples in my marathon training, especially as race day approaches.  Do not wait until you are stiff and sore to work out tight muscles, but sure to engage in some form of fascial release on a regular basis all throughout training and even more so as the race approaches.  Investing in a foam roller is a great place to start, you can even do it in the comfort of your own home.  It will also be your best friend post race when those muscles are pretty unhappy with you.

3. Eat All the Food (But Nothing New)
We have all heard about carb-loading and increasing your caloric intake leading up to the race.  This can, however, be a little misleading.  I’ve made the mistake in the past as seeing this as an opportunity to eat everything in sight to prepare for race day.  Pizza, chips, beer, anything I figured could pre-fuel my body for the big event, I devoured.  Yes, your body will need some additional carbs, salt and calories to run for that amount of time, but it will need it in a healthy way.  Unhealthy, processed foods will give you extra calories and carbs, no doubt, but these foods lack the essential nutrients to support your race day needs.  They can reek havoc on your digestive system, cause gastric issues and effect your energy levels.  Be sure to stick with real, whole foods such as lean proteins, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.  Increase your carb in take with good carbs such sweet potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal and bananas.  Add a little extra salt (I prefer pink Himalayan salt) to your food the day or so before your race to help with electrolytes.  And be sure to drink extra water, you will want to be well hydrated heading into the event.  Also, the last few days leading to the race is not the time to introduce new foods into your diet.  You do not want to risk any sort of reaction from new cuisine that can effect your body on race day!

4. Boost Your Immune System
It happens, I can attest to that.  You put in months of training, you are ready to go out and crush your race and then BAM, you wake up under the weather!  Sometimes it is just inevitable, we get a cold, or the flu or a stomach bug, etc.  We have been putting our bodies through so much stress over the past few months that we end up being more susceptible to catching whatever may be “going around” as the saying goes.   But just like stretching, you do not want to wait until it is a problem to do something about it.  Be proactive when it comes to your immune system.  Here are a couple of ways I like to help build up my immune system.

  • Eating a clean healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
  • Catching some rays to get my Vitamin D (running outside is typically how I get them)
  • Taking a regular probiotic
  • Supplementing with immune boosters such as Elderberry and Echinacea
  • Washing my hands and counter tops regularly

5. Bubble Wrap Yourself
As tempting as this may sound, it is obviously just not possible, hehe.  But as a precautionary, it may not be a bad idea to refrain from any new activities as well as ones that you may be used to but could post a potential threat to your body.  I know this may sound a little silly and actually pretty obvious, but it is a good reminder to not get too creative with your workouts and extracurricular activities right before your marathon.  You will have plenty of time for adventures post race, so schedule your activities wisely beforehand.  I guess your sky diving and swimming with the sharks will just have to wait a bit.

6. Visualize Your Success
Whether this your first long distance event that you’re just hoping to finish within a certain time frame, or you have a done this before and have a major PR in mind, it is important to not only have a goal, but to visualize yourself accomplishing it.  The saying goes “The body achieves what the mind believes.”  Your nerves will be all over the place leading up to the race.  You don’t want them to get the best of you so it is important to keep your eye on the prize.  Having a strong mental game will not only keep those nerves at bay but will also be what you need to turn your dream into a reality.  Close your eyes and visualize yourself crossing that finish line.  What does it sound like?  Who will be there?  What does it feel like?  Imagine all of those things leading up the race and focus on how great it will feel.  Hold onto those feelings all throughout the race as well, especially when it becomes daunting, and trust me it will at times.  But having that vision of what your own personal “victory” feels like will be what you need to get you through.

7. Get Some ZZZ’s
Easier said that done, but very important.  Sleep not only helps rest your body but your mind as well.  When we lack sleep, and we are just not ourselves physically or mentally, it can effect everything from our mood to our immune system.  All of which are important for being effective on race day.  Finding time in our busy lives for some extra hours of sleep can be very tricky (especially if you’re like me and have small children who stay wake periodically throughout the night).  But what you can consider doing is going to be 15-30 minutes early each night the week or so leading up to the race, and try sleeping in a day or two as well.  The extra minutes of sleep will add up to a few hours and will hopefully help you feel rested come race day.

8. Trust Your Training
You’ve spent the past several months of your life preparing for this one day.  The early wake up calls, countless miles and hours of cross training.  You’ve studied programs, read articles and talked to seasoned runners to gain knowledge, insight and motivation to do this.  At this point, you have done all you can to prepare.  You’ve done your miles, you put in the work, you are ready, whether you think you are not, you can and will do this.  You just have to believe that and trust in yourself and your training.  Committing to and training for a distance race is an accomplishment in itself.  It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice as well as stepping out of your comfort zone.  You have done what you once thought to be impossible by simply signing up for the race and then tackling all the training that is involved to prepare for it.  Knowing that you have already accomplished such an amazing feat before you even toe the line should give you the confidence to see you to the finish.  When you start to doubt yourself before hand or even out on the course, think back to all the miles you have already done, all the long runs you have completed and how you have survived it all.  You have done this before cumulatively in your training leading up to this event, and you can do it now on race day.  Don’t for a second doubt yourself and your abilities, you have come this far and it’s time to go out and finish strong!

Good luck and happy running!

Coach Christina is a certified strength and conditioning coach, marathoner, mother of 2 young sons and along with her husband, own and operates CWSC Performance.  When she is not coaching, running or spending time with her family, she is blogging about it all!

8 Helpful Tips to Get You That PR


So much goes into training, both physically and mentally that after months of preparation and sacrifice, crossing that finish line is a feeling like no other!  We all decide to run races for different reasons.  Some to keep the weight off and stay in shape.  Some to prove to themselves they can do it.  Others love to run with friends and family for more of a fun, social event.  And some do it because they like the competition, with themselves and others.  Regardless of the reason we begin training for an event and despite how competitive think we are, or are not, one thing is certain for every runner…PR’s are AWESOME!  [In case you are newer to running, “PR” stands for personal record.]  PR’s show us what we are capable, they show us that discipline and hard work pay off, that we are both physically and mentally stronger than we ever thought possible.  PR’s also give us a new lease on our running, it revitalizes what may have become stagnant and gives us new goals to reach for!

As a performance coach and avid runner myself, I am often asked for tips on how to get faster.  Just like any run training programming, there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula that works for every person and every event.  But over the years, I have managed to see some significant improvements in my own pace as well as in my clients’, so I figured I would share a few things I have found to be helpful.

1. Be Ambitious, But Be Realistic

I know this may sound a little contradictory, but you need to have big, scary goals to shoot for.  Even though these goals may frighten you a little, they really are not too much out of your reach if you’re willing to work!  So first and foremost, with running and any type of training, you have to set some action goals.  In an past blog post, I discussed the importance of S.M.A.R.T. goals and running is no exception.  Setting a goal too high will cause unnecessary stress in your training and potentially set you up for failure.  It could also lead to over-training, burn out or even worse, an injury (been there done that).  And of course setting your aim too low doesn’t give you that edge you need to step out of your comfort zone.  After all, the joy in PR’ing is pushing yourself and making it happen!  Use some of your past events and training runs as a good litmus test for your goal.  Take some of your paces from your best training runs and consider how many seconds you could shave off each mile if you really pushed it out there.  Use some “reverse engineering” with a pace calculator to determine what your PR would be if you shaved off that amount of seconds per mile.  Now that you have set your goal, here are some things to do to make it happen!

2. Cross Train

I cannot stress enough the importance of cross training.  And I am not just talking about swimming, biking and other cardio.  Getting in the weight room has been hands down one of the absolute most important components of my increased pace.  Since incorporating strength and conditioning into my regular training, I have gotten leaner, stronger, more powerful and thus faster.  Runners often shy away from lifting, especially heavy, because they fear they will bulk, be too sore or don’t think they have time for it.  None of which is true, trust me.  Strength training will increase lean muscle mass, improve bone density, and increase strength and power, all of which improve running economy.   Body weight exercises like squats, push ups, planks, lunges, etc., are all a great place to get started if you have never done a strength program, but eventually you will need to incorporate resistance with dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine balls, etc.  Remember, don’t be afraid to lift heavy (for example: 4 sets of 6-8 rather than 3 sets of 15-20), push yourself in the weight room, not just the trail!

3. Check Your Nutrition

They old saying goes, “you can’t out train a poor diet,” and that couldn’t be any more true.  As runners, we have a tendency to think “hey, I just ran 10 miles, I should be allowed to eat all the food.”  Obviously it is vital that we are refueling our bodies, making sure we are replenishing all those calories we just expended, but we must do so with the right foods and the right balance.   A good example is when I trained for my first marathon back in 2010.  After each long run, I plowed through countless unhealthy foods, thinking it was all evening out.  I’m not one to pay attention to the scale, but as I noticed my clothes getting tighter and tighter, I knew I had probably put on a few pounds.  Race day came and went and I felt it went well for my first marathon, but at doctor’s check up about a week later, I realized I had gained over 10 pounds during training!  That was a very humbling experience for me and since making adjustments to my nutrition, I have managed to keep my weight down and continually shave my time.  Be sure to eat real food, drink plenty of water and keep your portions in check..  Avoid processed foods, added sugars and alcohol.  Also avoid the urge to devour everything in sight after a long run.  Have your post run meal planned out and include tons of water along with the meal to prevent overindulging.  If you’re still struggling with portions and nutrition, I highly recommend downloading the MyFitnessPal app to track your diet.  What gets measured gets accomplished!

4. Find Your “Om’

Long, lean, limber bodies are important for running, not just running efficiency but also recovery.  Yoga provides not just flexibility and strength, but it offers a connection to your body, mind and spirit like no other form of fitness can.  You became amazingly aware of your body through Yoga, thus learning how to better listen to and train it.  Yoga helps to increase range of motion, improve posture, increase strength and increase stamina, all very important for running and recovery.  If you have never done Yoga before, start of slow and gentle.  There are several resources online as well as DVD’s you can try.  Consider attending a class at a local studio and don’t hesitate to inform the instructor if you are new, so they can be sure to keep an eye out for you.  I myself, am a huge fan of Hot Yoga.  The high temperatures quickly warm up my muscles allowing me to get deeper into poses and the continuous flow of the class challenges and pushes me both physically and mentally.  Adding at least one Yoga class to your weekly training routine will offer great benefits for your body and mind!

5. Speed Work

Whether you run 7 minute miles or walk/run 14 minute miles, you are a runner regardless and can certainly benefit from speed work.  Speed work typically involves short but fast intervals of running followed by a recovery period.  Through a carefully designed program, you will be able to increase your stamina and speed, as well learn to tolerate both the physical and mental discomforts while racing.  The focus while doing speed work is to reach your anaerobic threshold, which requires you to run at a MUCH faster pace than usual.  Pushing yourself hard to reach this threshold will improve your VO2 max as well as your aerobic capacity, both very important for distance running.  Speed work, however does come with risks.  If not done progressively and properly, it can lead to over training and potentially injury.  Be sure to research speed programs before engaging in one and my suggestion would be to consider hiring a professional (see #7 below).

6. Recruit a Fast Friend

Running with someone who is a little faster than you and willing to help you push to reach your goals is a sure fire way to make it happen.  And the best part in doing so, is having someone to celebrate the experience with!  Of course, be sure to return the favor one day, by helping someone else get their PR too.  If you do not already have someone in mind like a BRF (Best Running Friend), consider joining in a running group.  You’re sure to find people to pace you and push you in large groups, plus they are a lot of fun!

7. Hire a Coach

Running and performance coaches are not just for the elite athletes.  Don’t think for a second that just because you are not working towards Olympic status, you cannot enlist the help of a professional!  Coaches are available to offer guidance, programming, support and encouragement to runners of all ages, distances and fitness levels.  Running coaches will work specifically with your running needs and goals to train for a particular event.  From those goals, your coach will design a specific plan of action including mileage build up, speed work, tapering, etc., to help keep you on track safely and effectively.  A performance coach, like myself, will get you stronger, leaner, more powerful and of course, faster.  Performance coaches design sports specific strength and conditioning programming to target what is needed to take your “game” to the next level.  Again, we are not just for competitive athletes.  Performance coaches work with anyone looking to improve performance by building lean muscles mass, improving strength and power, increasing flexibility and improving aerobic capacity.

8. Don’t Give Up

You’ve set your ambitious, yet attainable PR goal and you feel as if you are doing everything right to make it happen.  But for some cosmic reason, it just didn’t happen at your last race, or the previous one even the one before that.  Now you’re thinking your goal is too high, it isn’t going to happen and you’re just not the runner you thought you were.  DON’T beat yourself up and DON’T give up!  Maybe you were over trained, the weather was horrible, your head just wasn’t in it, things happen…learn from them.  Evaluate the various factors of race day and the days leading up to it, that may have come into play causing you to come up short.  For the things you can control, determine what you need to do to change them, ie: footwear, attire, music, pace groups, training program, etc.  And for the things you have no control over, it’s important you are equipped with the right mindset to deal with it.  You can’t change the weather, there is nothing you can do when you are sick, sometimes courses are just way harder than we anticipated.  Being prepared, having a positive, no excuse attitude and just staying focused and persistent will sooner or later (hopefully sooner) get you that much deserved PR.  So no matter what, never, ever give up!

First Thoughts Post Marathon

In a follow up to my previous blog Final Thoughts Before Your First Marathon, I thought I’d blog about some of the first things to consider once you have finished the race.  First and foremost, congratulations on be come part of the less than 1% of the world’s population.  You are officially a MARATHONER!!!  Months of training and sacrifice lead up to a handful of hours of running, a shiny new medal and a lot of thoughts, emotions and possibly some blisters and soreness.  Don’t fret, everything you are feeling is totally normal.  Here are a few things to consider within these next couple of days post marathon.

Marathon Blues

You run those last .2 miles and cross that finish line.  You’re handing your medal, embrace your friends and family and now feel on top of the world.  That high can last for several hours to days.  But one thing is certain in life, what goes up, must come down.  You just spent the last several months of your life preparing for one event.  A huge, life changing event at that.  But now you’re left feeling somewhat empty and even saddened.  What’s next?  It happens to the best of us and the best thing to do is just enjoy the time off to just enjoy running for the pure joy of running.  Not having to worry about long runs, speed work, cross training, etc., and just getting to go jog is such a liberating and fun feeling.  It will allow you to reconnect with the joy of running after months of it feeling like a job.  Also, take this time to start consider what your next big event will be.  Having a future goal in mind will help keep you going with all that progress you made during training for this one.

Eat All The Food

I don’t know about you, but after a marathon, I want to eat EVERYTHING!  You just burned lord know how many calories out on the road.  You will certainly need more food post race than any regular day.  Your body and soul need to indulge, so let go and live a little, after all you earned it!  But also keep in mind how important it is not just to eat because you’re hungry and deserving of lots of food, but also recognize you eat to refuel.  Be sure to focus on eating healthy fats, proteins and of course carbohydrates.  Once you have replenished those calories burned, you don’t necessarily need much more than that, so indulge, but do so wisely.

Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve

One of the most common things I struggle with post marathon, and I hear from so many other runners are the “if I had only done this or that, then I would have done better.”  Yes, each race is definitely a learning experience and can help better prepare you for the next race.  But what’s done is done and you should leave it all out on the course.  You gave it your all and you finished!  This is the first time you have done something this physically, and possibly emotionally, demanding.  Takes some to to appreciate that, and not take away from what you did with any regrets you may have about it.  You only cross the finish line of your first marathon once, and it is an experience like no other!  There will be other races, you will have other chances to do better.  So cherish every moment of the HUGE accomplishment you just made!

Rest Up, Then Get Moving

The first time you try and run after your first marathon can be a VERY humbling experience.  Your legs may feel like lead, your feet can be blistered and your whole body will be sore.  Your wobbly legs, achy hips and tired feet may have you feeling like you may never run again, but trust me, you will!  My advice, take it slow, have no expectations and just listen to your body.  The first couple of attempts at running post marathon  may involve more walking than running, and that is perfectly OK.  As mentioned in my previous post, be sure to take time for some mobility and stretching exercises too.  Loosen up those muscles and then get moving again.  Your body and mind will thank you for it!

What Next?

You may be thinking “I am never doing that again!”  Or you could be looking at the race calendar planning out your next full marathon.  Wherever you are with your thoughts on marathons, here are a few Do’s and Don’t’s for moving forward…

Don’t judge all marathons off of the first experience.  The weather could have been terrible, the training may have been wrong for you or the nerves could have just gotten the best of you.  So if it wasn’t the absolute best experience of your life, think about giving it another shot with with some adjustments to have a better experience the next time.  Never say never!

Don’t jump right back into training for another distance event.  Give your body and mind some time to relax and enjoy what you just accomplished.  If you’ve caught the marathon bug, that is awesome, but give yourself a couple of months before you start training for your next one.  Going at it too quickly without proper recovery may put you in a position for over training, which could lead to injury or illness.

Do set some goals if you plan to do another one.  Now you have a good idea what a race of 26.2 miles feels like.  You know what pace you had, what your finish time was and how all that felt.  It’s not out of the question to do better at your next one, so think about what a PR would look like for you and work towards making that happen.

Do show proud and shout from the roof tops what you just did!  A marathon is a HUUUUUGE accomplishment and certainly something to be proud of.  Don’t think for a second you are “annoying” your friends and family with all your post race chatter.  They should be so incredibly proud of you as you should be insanely proud of yourself.  Bring your medal to work.  Post your race photos on social media.  Share your stories of the race with your loved ones.  It’s an incredibly feeling and you shouldn’t have to hide.  Take pride, you’re a MARATHONER!

I just want to once again congratulate you all on accomplishing such a huge goal.  Not just running the actual race, but for all the months of hard work and dedication that lead up to it.  It takes so much physically and mentally to take on the beast otherwise known as the marathon and you did it!

Final Thoughts Before Your First Marathon

Several of our MRTT Sole Sisters will be embarking on their very first marathon this coming Sunday at the Space Coast Marathon.  I couldn’t be more excited for them because I will never forget the first time I crossed the finish line for my first marathon.  It was an experience that words cannot even begin to describe and I hope they experience the same euphoria I did!  Of course I certainly was not that blissful the entire time.  Despite the months of training, my nerves totally got the best of me in the days and of course minutes leading up to the race.  And even throughout the 26.2 miles, there were several moments of fears and doubts.  But I kept going and before I knew it, I was officially a marathoner!

So as my friends prepare for their first, and hopefully not last (hehe) marathon, I thought I would share a few last minute thoughts and suggestions in preparation for their big day…

1. Trust Your Training

You have just spend that past 12-18 weeks of your life preparing to run the miles, you can and WILL run them all!  Take a look back at your best and worst training runs.  What were different factors in those that you can do, or not do, race day?  Be sure to keep those things before and during the run.  These past few months have not just physically, but also mentally prepared you for race day.  You have a plan.  Trust in that and believe in yourself.  Running is, after all, a mental sport (and we are all insane)!

2. Don’t Make Any Major Changes

By now you have probably figured out your nutrition and hydration looks like for 20+ miles runs, as well as what gear and apparel work best for you.  Don’t make any changes.  Don’t add any new Gu or hydration tablets to your race day essentials.  Don’t buy new shoes or pants or sports bra, go with what you know and trust.  And lastly, stick to a relatively simple diet in the last few days leading up to the race.  You don’t want to risk any unwanted GI issues come race day.  Been there, regretted that, ugh!  Stick with what you know.

3. Have a Mantra

Read through some inspirational quotes or stories.  Find something that speaks to you about anything from perseverance, determination, competition, etc..  Whatever touches you and motivates you.  Recite those words to yourself before the race and whenever things start to get tough out there.  There will be times where you feel like this was too much of an undertaking and you want to walk, stop for a minute or even quit.  DON’T!  Remember your mantra, remember why you started this journey, what it means to you to finish, dig deep and keep pushing forward!

4. Relax, Have Fun

Listen, it’s just running.  It’s not our job, we’re not getting paid to do it.  (In fact we pay a lot to do this, hehe).  We’re not going to the Olympics and most of us won’t qualify for Boston our first go, if ever!  Like I said above, think about why you even decided to run a marathon.  You obviously have to love running if you’re willing to do it for 4-6+ hours straight!  So keep that in mind out on the course.  Enjoy the sights and sounds and emotions going on all around you.  There are so many great stories of triumph and inspiration at these events, including yours.  Soak it all in!  Running a marathon is the true definition of a journey, why not enjoy the ride, er run.  Think about how much more sweet crossing that finish line will be if you can remain calm, positive and and just have fun!

5. Recover Smart

One of the biggest mistakes people make post marathon is not honoring a proper recovery period.  Many people will stop running all together for a week or two, or even more, while others will jump right back into their old routine.  Take a day or so rest.  Not just the miles but also the emotional component of a race can take a toll on you.  Be sure to refuel your body with proper nutrition and drink TONS of water.  Foam rolling, active stretching and Yoga are all super helpful in recovery.  Many training programs have recovery runs built into them, so don’t neglect that.  If your program does not have recovery runs, considering take some nice slow jogs or walk runs the week following the race and start building back up.  You don’t want any unwanted injury or illness after your race to taint what an amazing thing you have just accomplished, so recovery smart and stay healthy.

I could really go on and on about marathon training and race day preparation, but those are some big ones that have helped me over the years.  No matter the outcome of your race, crossing that finish line at a marathon is a feeling like no other.  You have worked so hard to do something you may have never thought possible.  All those early mornings, tough workouts and dedication have paid off.  You set a goal and you made it happen.  Less than 1% of the population can say what you can now say…you are a MARATHONER!!!

Good luck and happy running!