I’ve been “in training” for the Outer Banks Half-Marathon for the past couple of months, and as a result, I’ve been reminded of lots of truisms about exercise. By the way, I put quotation marks around “in training” because I’m certain that my training and that of SERIOUS participants is quite different. Some people get out there and push themselves to the wall (whatever that means) for miles and miles and hours and hours. Me? Well, I’ll tell you in the following tips.
- Just do it. Excuses don’t cut it when race day comes, so get up off the couch, lace up your shoes, and head out the door. I recently jotted down this quote overheard at a talk in church: “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.”
- About the just doing it, they say you only need 30 minutes of exercise four or five times a week. For those of you who can’t afford 30 minutes at a stretch, then break it up into smaller segments. That works too; something’s better than nothing.
- Listen to your body. I’ve said this to my children and friends so much that they’re probably sick of it. Still, if something hurts, that’s a message from your body to you. Take a day off…or at least slow down. That “no pain, no gain” slogan is for the birds. Maybe, just maybe, you can do that on race day, but if you have a stress injury or torn ligament, then there might not be a race day.
- Pace yourself. If you know that you have six miles to cover one afternoon, don’t go out like a speed demon. Start slowly and then gain some momentum. My first husband once gave me some excellent advice that I’ve never forgotten. “Work on distance first…and then on speed.” Saturday morning I walked 11 miles, and now that I know I can go the distance, maybe I’ll hustle a little faster on Sunday morning.
- Conserve as much energy as possible. While this is sort of like the above advice, it’s sort of not. One of my brothers, the one who’ll be participating in the OBX Half-Marathon with me (ahead of me), once told me that when he had to travel a long way, he barely lifted his feet, almost shuffling.
- Get the right shoes. On the recommendation of Anna, my nephew’s wife, I bought some ASICS with gel. So far, so good. I’ve also learned that just the right socks are important too. They can’t be too thin or too thick, but since this is an individual preference, you’ll have to experiment for yourself. It’s amazing the difference that the correct footwear can make.
- Just keep going. Don’t quit. In 1997, I participated in a Team-in-Training Marathon for the Leukemia Society. Each participant raised over $3,000, and about 45 of us flew from Myrtle Beach to Anchorage, Alaska. My daughter Carrie and her friend Michelle were probably the least prepared of all the participants, but they did it. They finished the entire 26.2 miles, and they did it by taking one step at a time.
- Keep the can-do attitude. When training for the above event, a motivational speaker once came to speak to our group. One of the many things she told us was that after the event, we’d be tired, aching, hungry, and sore. However, she said, “After a nice warm shower and a good night’s rest, you’ll be good to go. Some of the patients you’re raising money for will never have that experience.” That was a sobering thought, and I’ve never forgotten its impact.
- As the BIG DAY approaches, I find myself thinking all sort of “what if” things. What if I don’t sleep the night before? What if I’m the last one to finish? What if I can’t do it? At such moments, I think of a great psychological concept, self-efficacy. In a nutshell, it refers to a person’s belief about whether he or she can accomplish something. Once self-doubt creeps in, you’re done. If you think you can’t, you’re right. You can’t. You might as well quit right then and save yourself the embarrassment of doing it later. On the other hand, if you think you can, then you can. I can. Yes, there will be discomfort and the recurrent thoughts about why I let David talk me into doing it, but I can and will do this thing.
Hey, and guess what? You could too. Dick’s Sporting Goods has quite a selection of shoes.