Mercer Island Half Marathon-Getting Started

January 14, 2016 | by Denise Thomas

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'16 Mercer Island Half
The Mercer Island Half Marathon is just 65 days away and we want you to run!  This amazing road race is right in our backyard and is the perfect way to get moving in 2016.   Today we start a series focused on the race and how to prepare.  Be sure to look for new posts each month with great tips and information.

Mercer Island Half MarathonHalf the battle is deciding to run the race and then fully committing to it!  Just sign up!  If this is your first half marathon, try not to think about the number of miles you will need to run on March 20th.  I fully understand the sentiment, “How will I ever be able to run 13.1 miles?!”  I get it.  Shift your thinking from what you will be doing two months from now, to what you are doing this week.

Having completed multiple half marathons and one full marathon, I’ve learned a few things that are life savers while training.

  1. Follow a training guide.  It is the key to a successful race.
  2. Invest in a good pair of shoes now and train in them.  My favorite brand is Asics, but try on a few and find the brand that works best for you.
  3. Use the app Map My Run.  This simple app tracks and saves your mileage, pace and courses.  You can even find routes that others have ran near your location.  It helps when planning your long runs.
  4. Find a running buddy.  A running partner is great for motivation and accountability.
  5. Keep your mind busy.  I find Podcasts or audio books a great distraction.  A few Podcasts I love are Serial, Limetown, and Mortified.  If you are one that needs music, I love running to the Pop Fitness Radio station on Pandora.

Over the next three months we will be sharing training tips from a very knowledgeable source!  Mercer Island’s own Ginny Pietila.  The MI Athletic Club owner, nationally certified personal trainer, USAT certified Triathlon Coach, 7 time Ironman finisher and 70.3 Age Group World Championship Triathlon competitor will help get you race-day ready!

Training tip #1
Running gives you an amazing workout! No doubt we love our jogs through Pioneer Park, across I-90 and wherever else our little rubber soled wonders will take us. Nothing else seems to get your blood pumping like a getting a few miles under your belt does, right? But in order to be the best runner you can be, cross-training is key. Take the time now to strengthen any weaknesses and maintain good flexibility, you’ll be able to run stronger and faster.

Cross-training is essential for runners to prevent overuse injuries that are associated with repetitive impact activity, such as shin splints as well as hip, lower-back and knee discomfort. Think of your muscles as your first line of defense against injury. The stronger your muscles are, the less impact your bones and joints are taking as the miles add up. By adding one or more non-running workouts to your weekly routine you drastically improve your running technique, speed and stride length, too.

Benefits of Strength Training for the Endurance Runner:
Strength-building exercises, especially ones that utilize your own body weight, help boost endurance and reduce risk of injury. Improve your long run performance by creating the strongest hamstrings possible. Along the same lines, strengthen up that back side (glutes!) and watch your speed increase while your race times drop.  Lateral band walks will keep your outer hip muscles strong and supportive of your knees.  Finally, work in some core exercises, which are key to being an efficient runner. Focus on oblique stability which will steady your core and keep you more upright during your runs.

The MI Athletic Club offers many group classes that would be perfect cross-training workouts.  Check out, TRX/HIIT, Cycle/TRX, Cycle/Flow, Power Yoga, or Mat Pilates.

Ready to sign up?
Registration for the Mercer Island Half Marathon is open now!  Submit your registration today, print the training guide, and get running.  Lucky you, the long run this weekend is only four miles.  You got this!  Additionally, Ginny Pietila is offering a series of seminars for registered racers leading up to the race.  The first seminar is just around the corner.

Seminar 1:  Staying injury free for the long run.  Strength and mobility training for the distance runner.
Saturday, January 23rd.  Noon at MI Athletic Club

If you are injured you can’t train.  It’s that simple.  We will cover simple, yet very effective foundational strength training and mobility exercises that compliment any endurance run training program. Supplementing running with strengthening exercises will not only aid in injury prevention but will make you a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner.

Targeted muscle groups will be those that provide balance, propulsion, trunk stability and overall mobility.
** Please bring a foam roller if you own one.
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This post is co-sponsored by Mercer Island Rotary and Mercer Island Athletic Club.  Thank you for supporting organizations and businesses that support My Mercer Island.