Sunday, January 22, 2012

This April, my boyfriend's cousin, Graves, and his girlfriend, Ivey, will be running a half marathon in San Francisco to commemorate what would be the 30th birthday of Grave's brother Max, who suffered from Spinal Muscular Atrophy as a child. They hope to raise awareness of the disease, celebrate the medical progress that has been made since his passing, and honor the all too short life Max lived.  Friends and family will join them by running, donating and cheering them on during the journey.
To chronicle their training and build a community of supporters, they have created a blog called Miles 4 Max. They asked me to submit some tips and tricks to help them, and other runners, train for the race. You can check out my guest post here, and below you will find my first of three segments on training for and racing a half-marathon. Happy running!

Basic Running Tips

Upper body: Try to keep your upper body as relaxed as possible. I go through a mental checklist when I feel like I’m tensing up and I repeat this in my head: “relax your hands, relax your elbows, relax your shoulders, relax your jaw”. The last one is important. Its impossible to be tense when your jaw is relaxed. Everything else will fall into place.

Take small, consistent strides and keep a rhythm. This is when listening to music helps. Use upbeat music as a tool to motivate (ok, distract) you and a help you find and keep a rhythm to your stride.

  Focus on exhaling rather than inhaling. This will help relax your diaphragm and make it easier to breathe. 

Lean forward from the ankles. Your momentum will take you. This is especially true when you’re going downhill and momentum instantly becomes your BFF. Lean forward and take longer strides. On the uphills, do the opposite. Shorten your stride and stay upright.

After a long hill or a sharp corner, take about 10 really quick, short strides. Hills and sharp turns disrupt your rhythm and these steps will help get you back in your groove.

Last, but probably most important, forget all of this and just run. You’ve been doing it since you were a kid. Relax, don’t need think about the fact that you’re running (sometimes easier said than done). Your body knows what to do, so instead of agonizing over each mile and how much it may or may not hurt, think about what you’re going to have for dinner, talk to your training partner, or just use this time to clear your head.