I’ve mentioned before that I’m currently training for the First Midwest [Bank] Half Marathon on May 5, which was my first half marathon three years ago. My goal for this year’s race is to beat my finish time from 2010 by at least an hour, so, 1:48 or faster. I feel like this race will be a good indicator of how much I’ve improved as a runner since then. I feel like I have improved a LOT, so I’d like my time to be a lot better 🙂

During my training runs, I’ve been reflecting on my running now versus then. I have learned a lot. Such as:

Foam rolling is important. My next “big” race after that half was the Hot Chocolate 15K, which didn’t go as planned due to a tight IT band resulting in sharp pain in the side of my knee. I didn’t know what a foam roller was back then, but I sure know what it is now, in fact, I own this little guy and use it regularly, along with The Stick.

old picture. but I still love Olive supervising.

Fueling is important. I didn’t know much about fueling three years ago. I kid you not, my long runs went like this:

  • Eat a normal breakfast (bacon & eggs? why not?), wait a couple hours. Drink some water. 
  • Go for a run. Don’t bring water or any food/fuel with me. (What’s GU?) Even when my runs got up to the double digits.
  • Keep water in the car for when I’m done with my run.
  • Stop at McDonald’s on the way home, pick up a 5-piece Chicken Selects and a Powerade to “refuel.”

Yeah. Now? I just posted about that.

different kind of fueling
different kind of fueling

Don’t be scared of running clubs. I spent a lot of time looking up local running clubs and group runs. And telling myself I should check them out. But chickening out – I didn’t know anyone there, so that’s a bit awkward, and what if I was the slowest? Finally, I checked them out, and have made some great friends! And so far, I haven’t been the slowest, in fact, running with others has helped me to speed up. Plus I always have someone else to run a race with, in fact, I usually have many someones.

Are you in search of a club? If you’re south of Chicago, check RunChicagoSouth.com [one of my many other blogs]. If you’re in the Chicago area, check CARA for clubs and fun runs. Otherwise, everyone can check Running in the USA, Road Runners Club of America or Cool Running, or check with your local running store. 

Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 10.19.52 PM
my club’s Christmas party

Track the mileage on your shoes. I did get the memo that I needed to be fitted for proper running shoes, which I did, but if I ever had a run with fatigued legs or shin splints, I assumed I needed new shoes, and I would retire that pair. (What I really needed was a proper training plan, strength training, and some compression socks.) I’m sure I retired a few pairs after only a hundred or so miles. Big waste of money. Now I track the mileage on all of my shoes, and rotate multiple pairs. Right now I’m rotating seven pairs (purchased over the past two years), although four of those seven pairs are over 300 miles (one pair is over 500 miles and really should be retired).

Not logging your miles? I sync my Garmin data to accounts on both DailyMile.com and RunningAhead.com. (OCD, much?) Both let you tag each run with a pair of shoes and keep track of that shoe’s mileage for you. Super easy!!

So... Which pair will I wear for my next half marathon? Brooks adrenaline 12 or  Mizuno wave Nirvana 8?
new shoes! brooks adrenaline 12 and mizuno wave nirvana 8

Related posts:

I Did Everything Wrong at My First Half Marathon
Everything I Know About Going Fast
Running Lessons Learned in 2011
Lessons I’ve Learned While Running

What have you learned since you started running?