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7 Tips for Running Your First Marathon

by Amanda on November 20, 2009
category: Healthy Mom

AmandaMarathon1-300x200 Last Sunday Dawn and I ran the San Antonio Marathon and Half Marathon! Dawn did a great job running her second half marathon. I am so proud of her.  She did fantastic! I completed my first full marathon. You can read more about the details of my marathon at this site. The race was harder than I expected, but I did it! I ran the race 8 months after having my second child. If you have ever wanted to complete 26.2 as a life goal, you can do it!

Here are 7 tips I learned from my marathon training:

1. Train with a group. When I got up to 10 miles in my training I found it difficult to create long routes from my house with water stops. It also gets lonely when you run for more than 2 hours by yourself. I joined a training group at my local Fleet Feet store that ran on Sunday mornings at 6:00 a.m. They had a marked route and water stations every 2 miles. I also loved the community and encouragement of the runners in the group. You can check to see if you have a USA Fit or Team in Training group near you. You can also ask your local running store if they have training group.

2. Learn how to hydrate properly. I once trained for a half marathon and didn’t drink enough water or eat anything to refuel. For water you can carry a water bottle in your hand or use a water belt. After about an hour of running you may feel hungry.  To refuel try different types of GU’s, jelly beans, or chomp blocks while training. I really like the GU gels. The other gel brands don’t taste good to me.

3. Have family and friends that will keep you motivated.
My friends and I kept a running blog together to detail out our struggles and triumphs. Follow other runners on Twitter. Make sure your spouse is on board to encourage you.

4. Spend money on a good pair of socks. One book I read said its like buying popcorn at a movie theater. Just spend the money and then don’t think about it again. A good pair of socks will save your feet from getting raw. I LOVE my balega socks!

roosterandAmanda 5. Make time in your schedule. Amelia’s husband, Jon, said that training becomes like a part time job. It is true! My husband would have to take off early from work to watch the kids so I could my mid-week long runs in. My longest run took over 4 hours to get done. The long runs will take a chunk out of your weekend.

6. Remember why you are running a marathon. At some point while you are running you are going to ask yourself why you are doing this to yourself. You need to have an answer ready or you will talk yourself into a funk while running. My answers to the question were “One, I signed up, because I believed I can do this. Two, I wanted to be able to tell people that I ran a marathon 8 months after having a baby, before I turned 30 in 2 months.” I know its pride, but it kept me motivated!

7. Don’t worry about your time on your first marathon. Almost every runner told me this advice and I didn’t understand it until after I ran my race. At some point in my run I didn’t care about my time, but to finish in one piece. I did have fun greeting my friends and family cheering me on along the way! I am glad I added a few minutes to my time to enjoy my race.

Have you ever ran a marathon? Would you ever want to run one? What about a Half Marathon?

Abiding Monday: Pressing On Even When It Hurts

by Dawn on October 19, 2009
category: Abiding Monday,Healthy Mom,Inspiration

momcrowd_abidingmonday2_300x215[1] My husband was out of town this weekend for work.  I like to stay busy (sometimes to a fault) to help pass the time.  Saturday started out nicely with a 5k.  It was a great race and I beat my best time!  Since it was cold and rainy, I gave the kids a bath to warm them up afterward, and even baked cookies.  By 4:30, we were packed and ready to go to a cookout that has long been on our calendar.

And it was then I realized I was done.  I should have seen it coming, but the second we arrived, I knew I was only going to be chasing my kids around – and I was in no mood to do so.  Suffice it to say, I was a tense, exhausted, tantrumy-kid-toting mommy who had zero ability to enjoy the company of her friends.  Excellent.

On my way home, in between bouts of my daughter’s screaming, I realized I had just shown my friends a lot of what I like to keep hidden about myself: my snappy responses when people asked me questions, my increased levels of sarcasm, my patented stressouts that I can’t hide to save my life.  Have you ever wished you could be as cool as a cucumber in front of others only to fail miserably?

Are you still with me?  Hang in there – I do have a point.  This morning I was scheduled to lead Sunday school with the same group of people.  I was dreading it.  I wanted to just hide under my covers and come out only when six months or so had passed.  To top it off, my daughter (the same charmer from last night), decided to pitch another fit as soon as it was time to leave for church.  I crashed to my knees and started bawling – I just couldn’t handle anything else.  I wanted to stay home.  I wanted to avoid my responsibilities.  I wanted to be left alone.  I didn’t want to fail again.

My husband (who was home by this point), gently reminded me that I needed to go, and I would be fine – that God would give me the strength I was so lacking.  Before I could roll my eyes, he said, “I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth!”  So even though I didn’t want to, I climbed in the car and cried my way to church (accompanied by my daughter’s continued tantrumy nonsense).

Coffee in hand, I faced my Sunday school class – and quietly told them some of the stress, embarrassment, and humbling I was going through.  They didn’t give me pat answers – they just supported me.  I started with a confessional prayer and pressed on into the lesson, even though I didn’t want to in the slightest.  And God was there – taking my control-freak consequences and turning my anguish into joy.  The lesson went fine, the discussion great.  Afterward, I said, “Church did its job today – I came here feeling like crap, and I’m leaving feeling spiritually renewed!”  I honestly had much lower expectations for God, my friends, and myself.  Hopefully I won’t make that mistake again.

It seems all too fitting to share the following verses with you:

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection!  But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” 

Philippians 3: 12-14 (NLT, emphasis mine)

Lord, thank you for wanting us to be more than what we are right now.  Thank you for your presence that gently pushes us forward when we dig our heels in our own acts of stubbornness and pride.  Thank you for running the race before us and with us.  Please help us persevere when we feel like giving up.  Amen.

What is stressing you out today?  Can you use a push from Jesus to keep going?

How Much Sleep Does a Mom Need?

by Amanda on September 10, 2009
category: Health and Fitness,Healthy Mom,Humor/Random

ladysleeping I am incredibly protective of my children’s bedtime, but I don’t watch my own bed time at all. I have not gotten a good full night’s sleep in over six months. My breastfeeding 6-month-old boy is still waking up 2 to 3 times a night to nurse. Before that I was hugely pregnant and didn’t sleep well with all that kicking and heartburn. Sometimes I really believe that it is God’s grace that keeps me going. Many nights I only sleep about 6 hours.

It is incredibly tempting to stay up late after the kids go to bed. This is my time. I can  watch what I want on television, hang with my husband, get online without interruptions, read, clean or go out with friends. I LOVE the night time!

I have also recently started training for a marathon. I have to get up around 6:15 a.m. and get my miles done first thing in the morning, because of the hot weather and our family’s schedule. My husband takes care of the kids when they wake up, but I still need to get back quickly. My baby boy needs to nurse and my husband has to get to work when I get back. I try to get bed early the night before a long run, but even then I find myself staying up reading a book.

I know I need more sleep, but I don’t do anything about it. I love that I get to stay at home with my kids and can move slowly in the morning if I need to. Somehow I recover the next day. I get dressed and get done what I need to do without complaining. I am the one who chose not to go to sleep. My son goes to sleep at 7:00 p.m. So even though he still wake up 3 times a night, I have no excuse not to get to bed at a decent hour.

Perhaps I can just function on little sleep. I think a lot of moms do. The amount of sleep I get is something I have been thinking about this week. What do you think? Can you function on little sleep? Do you notice a difference in your attitude if you do get better sleep? How much sleep do you really need to function well the next day?

TMC Contributors in Training for the Rock & Roll San Antonio Marathon & Half-Marathon!

by Dawn on August 21, 2009
category: Healthy Mom

a-and-dawn-running Amanda and I are stoked to share with our readers that we have been preparing diligently for a big day:  November 15!  About two months ago, I was invited by a friend (a fellow mom of two toddlers) to do the Rock & Roll San Antonio Half Marathon.  I immediately pounced on the idea because I used to live in San Antonio and have been itching to go back.  I talked with my hubby about it and we decided to make it a family vacation this fall.

By mid-May, I was pretty overweight.  I hadn’t been running with any consistency for some time, and I was feeling utterly gross.  Slowly, I started running a bit more, two or three times a week.  By the end of June, I was making time for my treadmill runs four days a week.  The half-marathon trip to San Antonio was exactly the motivation I needed.

In the meantime, I decided to invite more friends to join us.  After about a week of discussion, I was so excited to get two more dear college friends on board.  We all have formed a very tight-knit accountability and encouragement team in pursuing this goal.  I have been running frequently to improve my endurance, strength, and speed, and my pals (who are beginners) have been training their bodies to be ready for the start of “official” training.

Training starts next week!  We are using a 12-week schedule for beginners; it is the same schedule I followed last year.  Amanda recently led us to another training calendar by Hal Higdon, and I think I might seek to strike a balance between what I have done and what he suggests.

I am feeling energized, enthusiastic, and happy about the whole thing.  Between now and November 15, I will be running 4 times a week at varying distances, and I couldn’t be happier to have an exercise goal and routine back in place.  And to do it with friends is that much sweeter.

Amanda here

When Dawn mentioned that she was coming to my hometown to do a Half Marathon I thought, why not run a half marathon too? About 3 years ago I trained up to 11 miles for a Half Marathon, but pulled my calf muscle 2 weeks before the race. Now 2 kids later and ready to get rid of my post-pregnancy weight I was on board to run again. Then I was researching for this post on running I came across a training schedule for a FULL marathon and I thought, “I can do this!” So I signed up to run 26.2 miles on Nov. 15th. You can read the full explanation of how I decided to run the full marathon here, but here are a few reasons.

  • I have always wanted to run a marathon and why not now? I want to stop saying “Someday I will do…” Someday is NOW.
  • I am turning 30 in a few months and thought it would neat to run a marathon for my 30th birthday.
  • I have no reason not to run one now. I am not planning on getting pregnant any time soon. My husband can help with the kids and all my friends are either running or will be there to cheer me on that day.
  • I can do it!

I am following Hal Higdon’s Full Marathon Training Schedule Novice 1. This past weekend I ran 12 miles. I was supposed to 10, but I decided to run with a group that was running 12. So far in 6 1/2 weeks I have ran a total of 100 miles.

When I get out on the road to run a few miles I do my best to enjoy the time away from my kids. It is peaceful and a joy to listen to music. When I get in a slump I remind myself to enjoy running and it never fails to work.

Check out our Running page for more information on running your first 5K and other runner inspiration.

Have you ever run? What work out brings you joy? What music gets you through a run?

8 Tips For Runners Starting from Scratch

by Amanda on July 5, 2009
category: Healthy Mom,Inspiration

womenrunning Have you thought about running as a way to workout? As a way to lose that postpartum muffin top? If you want to run, you can do it! It is just a matter of wanting to do it and carving out the time in your schedule. Even if you have never ran a day in your life – you CAN run! You just need to be sure that you don’t have joint problems or any other condition where running would make your condition worse.

Myself, McKenna, Dawn and a few other friends are gearing up to run a Half Marathon in San Antonio, TX in November. My friend, Natalie, asked me what she needed to know before she started running. I pointed her to a few of our older posts here on The Mom Crowd.

McKenna ran a 5K (3.1 miles) first and she then encouraged Dawn to run her first 5K. Then Dawn took it to the next level and ran a half marathon (13.1 miles).  Here is how she prepared her for her first half marathon and her results.

I ran a 5K with McKenna the week I found out I was pregnant with my second baby. I also had the opportunity to interview my friend Kristin who lost 90 POUNDS from running. Kristin ran a half marathon last year and is planning on running another one with her husband in November.  You can check out the video below.

Here are 8 tips if you are brand new to running.

1. Know the lingo and set a goal.
In McKenna’s first 5K post she recommends to find a Fun Run in your area and register for the race. Because the race fees are usually non-refundable, you are more likely to do the race.

Here are the types of most races:
5K = 3.1 miles
10K = 6.2 miles
10 Mile Race
Half Marathon = 13.1 miles
Marathon = 26.2 miles

2. Have a good pair of running shoes.
Your feet and your joints will thank you! Saving your body is worth the price of a new pair of shoes. An article for beginners on RunnersWorld.com says, “Cross-trainers, aerobics shoes, and other athletic foot–wear don’t have enough cushioning to handle running’s impact–nor does the pair of running shoes you wore two years ago. Buy new running shoes, or you risk getting injured.”

3. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch before and after your run.
Set a stretching routine that you can follow every day. Don’t ever skip stretching, unless you want to pull a muscle. Additionally, stretching after you run will help with soreness. I really dislike stretching after I run, because I just want to be done. So I only do three stretches when I am done: touch my toes, stretch my quads and my calves. For me, these are the 3 areas that I will most likely be sore later. Here is great post with stretching suggestions! (Thanks TimeOutMom.)

4. Start small and build up your strength and endurance.
You can start running in intervals while running and walking. Go for 30 minutes by doing a 1:4. This means that you run for 1 minute, then walk for 4 minutes. You do that same pattern 6 times until you have completed 30 minutes. Then the next week you can do 2:3. Running for 2 minutes and walking 3 for 30 minutes. You keep up this pattern until you can run 30 minutes straight.

If you decide that you want to start running without any walking, then you can start with a short distance. Only do a quarter of a mile until that quarter of mile gets easy. Then, do a half mile until a half mile gets easy. And so forth. Eventually doing 3 miles will be easy!

5. Take rest days.
You need rest days! Sometimes we want to come out of the gate fast and workout every day, but your body needs recovery days. While you should maintain a minimum of 3 runs a week, you also shouldn’t run every single day. MarathonRookie.com says:

You should not run every day. Your body needs to rest between runs so it can recover from one run to the next, getting stronger between each run. Nutrition and eating the right foods at the right time also play a vital role in recovery. Take recovery days equally as serious as your running days.

6. Have accountability and support.
Doing a race with friends will help you stay accountable. You can cheer each other on during the training weeks. Text your friend and see if they ran that day. You also need the support of a spouse or friend to help you watch the kids when you go on runs. You can also join a training or running group.

7. Run for a cause.
Need some inspiration to run? Run for a cause. If you run a half marathon or a full marathon you can sign up with an organization and help raise money to support their cause. Angie ran a marathon and raised 4,536 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of her father. She claims that she is not a runner. If you need some inspiration for running read her Gonna Run a Marathon Blog.

8.  Brag!
There is nothing wrong with getting on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or texting a friend to tell people that you ran that day! Knowing that I will get to update my Facebook status and Tweet my run gets me out of bed. (If you do tweet about running you can use the hashtag #momsrunning.) My friend, Dawn, also set up a blog just for the 4 of us running together to cheer each other on.

Now it is time to get out there and run! :)

More Articles About Running
Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Runner
Training For Your First Half Marathon
Six Simple Rules for Safe Runs
Train Before Your 5K Goal

Do you like to run? Have you thought about running? Have you ever completed a Half or Full Marathon? What advice would you give someone just starting to run?

- photo courtesy of justin_a_glass

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