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Half marathon training mixes body, mind, motivation

Courtesy of MCT

Running is arguably the most rewarding way to break a sweat and on May 4, Columbus is expected to host more than 14,000 endorphin-loving runners for the 10th Annual Capital City Half Marathon. When a runner commits to a long-distance race like a half marathon, he or she must also commit to the months of physical and mental training. With less than four weeks remaining until the big day, here are some helpful tips for your final month of training to aid you across the finish line with ease.
1. Taper your training. You have been pushing your body to its limits. In order to run as successfully as possible on race day, it is absolutely imperative you allow your body time to recover and recharge. Plan your final long-distance run (9-11 miles) for about 10 days prior to race day. Countless training programs emphasize training only up to 11 miles. On race day, you will be fueled by pure adrenaline for that final leg of the race, so do not stress about completing the full 13.1 miles before race day. The final week before the race should consist of two to four low-intensity walks or light jogs – no more than five miles. You want to keep your muscles warm without burning them out before the big day.
2. Don’t forget about nutrition. The food you’re using to fuel your body is as important to your training as the miles you’ve logged. Stick to well-balanced, nutrient-packed meals. Registered dietitian Beth Jauquet recommends on Outside Online to have “about 50 to 65 percent complex carbs, like brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, corn, squash, and fruits and vegetables, and 30 percent fat. The rest of your calories should come from lean protein, like chicken, pork tenderloin, shellfish or tofu.” Avoid refined sugar and anything processed. Your body will exponentially benefit more from all natural whole foods.
Beth Dolce of Dolce Fitness in Columbus recently held a nutritional seminar for the organization Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls. Not only did she explain that training is 80 percent what you eat, but knowing she was speaking with college students, she also explained the effects of alcohol. One night of heavy drinking can set back training up to two weeks. In the final four weeks, that sort of setback could be detrimental to your race day performance. Do yourself a huge favor and skip the margaritas for now – there will be plenty of time to celebrate on Cinco de Mayo, the day after the race.
3. Remember why you’re running. You likely registered for the half marathon for a personal reason. Whether it was for weight loss, fulfillment of a bucket list or simply to satisfy a personal goal, keeping that motivation in mind will be crucial in driving you through heavy breathing and burning muscles. During the race, try dedicating each mile to something or someone important to you. Run for your family, your friends or for those who cannot run – your motivation does not matter as long as it exists. Where physical training falls short, mental training will pick up the slack and carry you through those 13 miles.

Molly Tavoletti is vice president media chair for the fitness group CHAARG.

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