Training for a Half Marathon

By Dr. Emily Dickerson, ND

A few months ago I stumbled upon a brochure for the Zeitgeist Half Marathon and thought to myself, “That sounds like fun!”. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to spend Saturday morning pounding the pavement up and down hills for 13.1 miles?

A couple of times per year I like to challenge myself with a couple of solid half marathons to keep myself motivated and fit. The excitement and energy of a difficult race is something that I enjoy and it is inspirational to see individuals conquer a strenuous course. I have many activities that I enjoy, so I utilize diverse cross training and a schedule that includes that cross training to help me prepare for race day. Following is a basic half-marathon training schedule that I have adapted to fit my individual needs. On the days of low mileage (2-5 miles), I often do cross training instead of running. I try to reach my overall running mileage at the end of the week by increasing miles on other running days. The cross training that I have utilized throughout this process has been mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, climbing, and yoga. 

In the Athlete Health and Nutrition class that I teach, my students often give me ideas about whole foods that they are using for fuel and recovery. I have used this training time to try some of those ideas out. Here are some of the foods that I have been using during my training.

Fuel: Yams, sweet potatoes, nuts, bananas, apples, pears, oranges. I love fueling with fruit because it is easy energy and tastes delicious. Nuts have been the most interesting fuel that I have tried. I prefer mixing nuts with fruit while fueling. Yams and sweet potatoes are foods that I have been using as fuel and as a complex carbohydrate source in meals. It is important to train with the food you plan to race with in order to determine what helps you perform at your highest and to prevent gastrointestinal upset.

Recovery: Beets! Beets have been my star superfood during training for this half marathon. They are an incredible recovery food, and are packed full of nutrition. I like to have them cooked and in the refrigerator so that they are ready to eat whenever I need them.

Electrolytes: I have been making my own electrolyte replacement drink, using purified water, an organic lemonade from Trader Joe’s, and sea salt. It is not only delicious, but it is extremely hydrating as well! As the days get colder, it is often difficult to stay hydrated. I like to use herbal teas to help me reach my goal water intake.

Zeitgeist was a great run.  I’m considering running a FULL marathon this Spring.  I’ll keep you posted!