On Sunday April 17, I will run in the 13th Annual MORE/SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon. 10,000 women of all ages and backgrounds will run in Central Park to celebrate everything female. I couldn’t be more excited.
While I’ve been training hard for the race, I’ve thought a lot about what I do to keep improving and avoid injury.
These are my running rules for increasing speed, recovery, and endurance.
Anyone who knows me knows that my motto is, “eat plants, run fast.” Nothing feels worse than being bogged down with poor digestion while trying to run a long distance. I stay fresh and light on my feet by only eating vegan. This antioxidant and nutrient-rich diet has made me feel like I can get up and go.
I fill my plate with leafy greens, beans, rice, quinoa, root veggies and squash. When I’m extra focused about getting enough calories, I will slice up an avocado, eat more nuts, and have a blend of frozen banana “nice” cream for dessert. I eat based on how I feel, and lately I’ve been throwing in some raw milled hemp seeds to my dinner. This provides a hearty dose of iron, protein, and Omega 3,6, and 9!
I spend most of my days on my feet after I have finished my morning runs. I walk the Williamsburg bridge to and from Manhattan to get to all my castings and appointments in the city. This has given me a ton of stamina and endurance.
Walking is also an active state of recovery since it’s working a different set of muscles than running. This means that fast-twitch muscles from running are actually resting and repairing while slow-twitch muscles from walking build stamina.
I run faster instead of longer.
Back when I was trying to prepare for an “ultra” marathon, I ran 12-18 miles almost every morning. Read my full blog post about why I dropped out of that race here. Training for multiple hours a day conditioned me for very long distances, but it also slowed down my pace. I decided to focus more on speed than distance, keeping my training within a 60-90 minute window each day.
I typically run 10 miles in under an hour. I remember when this seemed impossible. Once I set my mind on doing it, I got comfortable with the idea and kept trying until 6 minute miles became a comfortable base pace for me. It’s from here that I feel like I can work on shaving seconds off my time for races.
I don’t overdo it.
In order to avoid overall exhaustion or adrenal fatigue, I limit the time spent training to 60-70 minutes. Anything more than an hour of running starts to take away from my enthusiasm, and then my miles start to feel like junk. It’s way more important to make an hour, or 45 minutes, count, than to spend an hour and half running sloppy miles.
There are exceptions where a couple times a month I will test longer training times, in order to remind myself of what it feels like to go longer distances.
I sleep a lot.
Running helps me sleep, and sleeping soundly gives me that extra edge to run better. Sleep is crucial for optimal performance in any kind of physical activity, because of how much the body recovers during rest. I’d rather sleep in a little longer in the morning, just to make sure I’m fully rested, than try to train when I’m overly exhausted. On some days, this means running at night instead of first thing morning.
Static stretching (or holding muscles in a long stretches) right before engaging in an impact sport can easily result in injury. I learned this the hard way, since I used to take yoga, lingering in a deep low lunges or pigeon pose, and follow class with a few miles at the track. I suffered from all kinds of tweaks and pinches in my hips and legs. This completely went away when I stopped static stretching before running.
If I need a warm-up, I will jog slowly to get the blood flowing for the first 5 minutes before gradually upping my speed.
My golden rule is to run because I want to, not because I have to. I never make myself run, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Some days are harder than others, and I adjust my training accordingly, to match what I’m feeling.
I get butterflies thinking just thinking about Sunday’s race. I can’t wait to be alongside thousands of women as we celebrate female energy. I know that as soon as I hear “GO,” I’m going to give it everything I’ve got— with the BIGGEST smile on my face!
I hope these tips ignite something inside of you to get up and go run fast. Stay in the loop for my race results!
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