Things To Remember when Changing your Training Routine: Half Marathon Experience
On September 22nd, I ran my first ever half marathon – 21.1km for the first time. I was inspired to do so after taking part in Tour De Picnic with The Complete Natural – running over 17km for this, I decided to go that bit farther for the half marathon whilst my running stamina had improved somewhat – 4 more kilometres felt a lot longer than expected! I learned that there are some really important aspects to take into account when changing your fitness routine, that may make or break its success. I’ve put these together based on my experience switching to some run training over the past few months.
Above any other consideration is the importance of training enjoyment. There are plenty of reasons as to why you should exercise we often see listed alongside advertisements – benefits to lifting weights, running marathons, swimming in triathlons, cycling long distace, Zumba classes, boxercise – and many more! These lists generally tell us all of the physical benefits; you may gain strength, loose fat, improve your speed, build muscle, have more energy and many more. What we rarely see mentioned is just how important your exercise of choice is in terms of enjoyment. If you are changing your training type or taking up a new sport, make sure it’s because you know you will enjoy it! Chances are you won’t succeed or last long doing an exercise or sport you don’t enjoy – don’t make a decision based on pressures which social media or peer groups may place on you to do a certain activity. Choose what you already love, or can grow to enjoy! Running for me is one I really fall in love with the more I practice.
It’s crucial to take some time to consider your current physical and mental health/wellbeing before deciding to take on a new sport, activity or extra training. Things to think about include your weight, body composition, muscle mass, bone health, joint care, hereditary disease history, injury history and mental wellbeing. Running for example is a sport that is high impact. If you plan on training for long endurance events it will be crucial to ensure you have good joint health, and strong bones. If you have had past knee or ankle injuries, it would be important to think about how it may affect these. Personally I had to ensure I kept up weight training & a diet high in dairy & calcium to ensure my low bone density was not to return. Book in with a doctor or dietician to make sure you are good to go before making a training switch.
It is very important to incorporate physical activity into your weekly schedule no matter how busy you may be. But if you want to do well in your sport or fitness programme, organising a training schedule may be that “make or break” factor to its success. Training frequency, intensity & consistency will be very important. It takes a little extra time aside on a Sunday afternoon to plan out your week. If it’s a marathon you want to do, or long endurance cycle, remember you will have to find quite a few extra hours in the week to allow for the training needed. If you have a very hectic job & lifestyle – consider something less taxing until life quietens a little for you. I learned this myself, as in the 2 weeks before the half marathon work I got very busy and the event was much harder as a result of not having those extra hours needed for long distance runs!
Finances are something we all must evaluate from time to time. If you are changing your training regime, look at what you may need to invest in to help you with this change. For example, will you need new training gear? Will you need more than one new set? Will you need to get a gym membership? Will you need some help from a personal trainer? Will you have to pay for some physiotherapy or rehabilitation sessions? Will you need to invest in extra supplementation? Perhaps Yoga or Pilates? Find a regime that you’ll enjoy but also one that will be easy for you to invest in – you don’t want to end up stressing about a lack of finances a few days out from an event that you originally set out to enjoy!
This of course is a major consideration – and one you may need some guidance with if it’s a brand new sport or activity to you. Try your best not to Google your way into being a pro at your new sport, unless you are sourcing information from a well-known trustworthy website. Its best to get in touch with someone who is a professional in that area, or has gone through a change similar – they can give the best advice needed as to what you may need to do.
Some may very well say that nutrition is the most important part of fitness. Remember that before you take on a new training regime or fitness goal, you should have healthy eating habits in place before doing so, especially if you plan on taking on a very demanding sport or endurance event. Look at food as your medicine, your prehab routine, the thing that allows you to take on any exercise at all, and the secret tool to helping your excel at your sport.
If you are changing sports, you may also need to make big changes to your diet to perform well & recover properly to prevent inflammation, injury or developing a low immune system. In my experience building endurance for the half marathon – this became more important than ever. I had to consume a lot more water, foods high in carbohydrates, fruits, healthy fats, milk & yogurts, & plenty of energy dense meals to recover after long distances. My nutrition required more planning & thought.
For example, it was important to ensure that my pre race meal had a high degree of carbohydrates, moderate protein and low fat as this would better aid gastric emptying but leave me feeling satiated without undigested food for the run.
Post race, it was crucial to have a lot of water, electrolytes, and high carbohydrate snack almost straight away. Then, in my first meal (within the hour ideally) it should contain all three macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates), micronutrients, and electrolytes/fluid should be present. There is no better way to achieve this than through a liquid, especially after a long endurance event if your stomach feels a little woozy!
A liquid based meal which includes dairy will be the best option for most after an endurance event as it ticks all of these important nutrition boxes. Below I’ve shared my top three smoothie recipes ideas for recovery after a long endurance event or training session, make sure to try them out if you are switching up your training style to any sport that involves endurance style training… or if you’re not, they are damn tasty!
My Top 3 High Carb Smoothie Recipes!
Just blend the ingredients well in a processor, then present them in a pretty jar – extra enjoyment guaranteed with some decorations & fruits on top! Each one being a fantastically balanced post endurance recovery drink.
- Pumpkin Pie Fibre Booster
It’s the season for all things pumpkin spice – and there are some great organic pumpkin spices you can buy on the market. Otherwise, you can make your own by combining herbs such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice. The oats & potato here provide you with a great deal off fibre also.
- 1 Cup of cooked Sweet Potato (I suggest steaming the potato)
- ½ Cup of Oats
- ¾ Cup of Milk
- ½ Cup of Natural Yogurt
- ½ Apple
- 1 tspn Peanut Butter
- 1 tspn Pumpkin Spice Mix
- High Calcium Berry Boost
By adding sesame seeds into the mix with the milk & yogurt in this smoothie – it may deliver up to a whopping 700mg of calcium!
- 1 Cup of Milk
- ½ Cup of Greek Yogurt
- Large Handful of Spinach &/or Collard Greens
- 1 Banana
- ¼ Avocado
- ½ cup Raspberries & Strawberries
- 1 tbspn Sesame Seeds
- Fruity “Tuity” Toss up
The combination of passion fruit & honey give this smoothie a real kick – if you want an even greater punch you could add in some pineapple or grapefruit!
- 1 Cup of Milk
- 1 Banana
- 1 Cup well ripened Mango
- 1 Passion Fruit or Orange
- ½ Cup Oats
- 1 tspn Honey