I want to introduce you to a very special friend of mine who has kindly agreed to do a guest post this week. I met Kate Russell almost three years ago when I started leading an outdoor training session with her and some of her work colleagues. She is one of the most caring, friendly, motivated and just all-around awesome girls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and I love her dearly. This year Ruski decided she wanted to take things up a notch and entered her first half marathon. I thought it would be amazing for her to give you a little insight into her preparation, dedication to training and the race itself – if you’ve ever thought about doing one yourself, this may be just the inspiration you need!
So without further adieu, my guest blogger for the week, Kate Russell:
The Bucket List Year
According to Chinese culture, 2013 is the year of the black snake; a year of steady progress. Focus and discipline is necessary to achieve what you set out to create. For me, 2013 is about stepping out of my comfort zone, so I created “Kate’s Bucket List”, and pencilled in a half marathon.
I live and breathe exercise – it’s what gets me out of bed every morning. I’ve never been a long distance runner though as it bores me. I’ve always trained by myself, but met a new friend at the gym and decided to give the SMH Half Marathon a go. I was apprehensive about a couple of things – mainly that I’d push myself too hard in the prep stage and either exhaust or injure myself before race day. It was important to find a balance between long work hours, travelling and training hard to perform well. I also wanted to test the traditional methods of both training and eating for a half marathon. Is it true that you have to “carb load” to perform well? Do you need to consume sports gels to get you through the 21km?
I started running training two months out*, adding a 10km road run to my weekly HIIT-focused program and then a 13km beach run. Soft sand running is excellent for building endurance and stamina and also easier on the joints. After doing two runs a week for a month, I did my first longer road run of 18km. Did I survive? Yes. Did I learn a lot? I sure did!
When I was doing my morning 10km sessions (45-50 mins), my body didn’t require any fuel beforehand – I would simply fuel up well enough the day before and have a clean healthy dinner. However during this first 18km road run, I discovered that pre-session fuel is vital if you want to avoid running out of energy. I seized up around the 15km mark and whilst I was able to complete the session it certainly wasn’t enjoyable, and it was a good lesson to learn early on so I didn’t make the same mistake come race day.
They say “muscles are made in the kitchen” and I couldn’t agree more. I have never eaten many traditional carbs. I lead a non-gluten, non-dairy lifestyle and include super foods in every meal. I wanted to prove that you can lead this clean eating lifestyle and still train hard, train for endurance and achieve results. I aimed for a minimum of seven hours sleep per night and my daily eating plan went a little like this:
Breakfast – soaked rice porridge, chia seeds, almond milk and goji berries
Lunch and dinner – protein, sweet potato or quinoa and green leafy salad/vegies
Snacks – fruit, carrot and raw hummus, bliss ball and ‘Rise and Shine’ loose leaf tea (green tea, lemongrass, liquorice and stevia)
In the two month lead up to race day I did not get sick, had no injuries, juggled travelling interstate for work, training and still managed to socialise with friends. Just goes to show, leading a busy life and training for a large event like this is possible!
In the week leading up race day (Sunday), I had loads of energy so did HITT training on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, a slow run on Friday then rested. I didn’t carb load on Saturday – just ate my regular lunch and dinner and drank loads of water. Race day I got up two hours before the race and had my usual brekkie with a green tea.
People have mixed views on consuming energy gels during a half marathon. To me, I think if you have fuelled your body properly with clean foods in the lead up to the race, you don’t need it. I looked into the energy gels but saw they contained sugar and caffeine so they were a no go for me! Instead, I purchased the natural Capilano honey shots in case I needed something – but I didn’t.
I was feeling incredible on race day. Buzzing with energy, nerves and excitement. Unfortunately my training partner pulled out due to injury at the last minute so I was left to do the run solo. She gave me the best advice I could imagine though, “just cruise the first 10, use it as a warm up. The race then starts at the second 10km”. And I did just that!
I completed the 21.1km in 1hr and 42mins (and this even included a loo stop halfway!). I had so much energy that I sprinted the final km and finished with energy – an amazing feeling. After a half marathon, you have a window of around 30 minutes where the body is primed to replenish its carbohydrate stores and soak up muscle-repairing protein. I opted for water, green tea and a fresh drinking coconut, along with a banana and an acai berry bowl (full of antioxidants, rich in essential fatty acids and assists nutrient absorption). For me, post-race was just about getting on with the day as usual and refuelling my body with clean, healthy foods.
So did I rest for the following few days? Hell no! Why should I when I was feeling so amazing? I did give my body a break from running though and opted for Bikram yoga and circuit training instead.
And on that note, I opened my diary and ticked off number 10 on my bucket list, a half marathon. Now onto the next thing – a 30km trail run. Stay tuned!
* NB: whilst I only started running training two months out, I had a high level of fitness to start with and was already doing HITT training three to four times a week.