With humidity dropping and awesome weather approaching, runners are eager to train for those long runs in preparation for the Chevron Houston Marathon or Aramco Half Marathon. You are probably counting down to race day, anticipating that moment you cross that finish line. But, before you get to that finish line, you will need to stick with consistent training to get prepared mentally and physically for race day.
Take it from me and learn from my tough but valuable lesson from my first Chevron Houston Marathon in 2015. I completed the marathon with my longest training run being only 13 miles. I do not advise anyone to do this. But each year, I learn more things that I wish I had known for my first marathon. So, I’ve compiled a few tips that I hope you will find useful as you continue your training to the start line.
Training Solo Safety Tips
With my work schedule and family life, I often train by myself. In order to get a long run in, I have to start early in the morning before the day breaks on the weekends. By training solo, I can set my own schedule of when to do my runs and not feel terrible if I had to cancel on a group run if something came up unexpectedly. One thing about training solo is that SAFETY should be a number one priority.
I tell everyone who runs alone to have some type of identification on you in case something happens. I wear an identification sport bracelet that has my name, date of birth, my husband’s cell phone number, and the medication that I am allergic to. In case of an emergency, someone will know who you are and who to contact. I have fallen on a run where I knocked my two front teeth inward, busted up my lip, and got terrible road rash on my shoulders and knees. Although I was able to get up and tend to the wounds, I can only imagine if I had knocked myself out and my family did not know where I was because I did not have any identification on me. And equally important to your identification is always telling someone where you will be running and your estimated completion time, just as an extra precaution.
Also, make sure to wear clothing and gear that is highly visible if you run early morning or in the evenings so that motorists can spot you. Always be alert of your surroundings. It’s easy to zone out once you get into your run, but it is important to look at what is ahead of the route. Sometimes I run in my neighborhood and have had neighbors back out of their driveways fast and not check their rearview mirrors and are surprised and apologetic when they look and see me waiting for them on the sidewalk to finish reversing – always be aware. And, If you run with music, make sure you have the volume down a bit or even do the “one in, one out” rule with the earphones so that you can hear your surroundings. This past April, I ran a half marathon where the race strictly enforced the “one in, one out” rule for safety measures, which I greatly appreciated because I could hear runners call out that they needed to pass me.
Training with a Team
Having a team or group to train with really does make training a lot better because you can learn a lot from each other. One of my favorite quotes from world class runner Eliud Kipoche is “100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. That’s teamwork.” Running with more efficient and faster runners has improved my overall performance. I joined an all women triathlon and running team this year and have learned a lot from the members and training sessions that I have attended, like how to improve my running form, how to figure out my race pace, and so much more. I had the opportunity to complete a track workout session, which is something I would never have done on my own, but with my team, it was really fun. Teams help motivate one another and that extra boost of encouragement has helped tremendously during races and long runs. Conversations are especially appreciated during long runs, which I do not get when I run alone.
There are so many teams and running clubs in Houston and the surrounding areas. You do not have to be an elite runner as most teams are very welcoming to new members of any pace and level.
I definitely encourage fellow runners to try a group run or even buddy up with a friend a few times during your training. Nothing to lose and a lot to gain!
Registering for a few short distance races is a great way to get you more prepared. I have always completed a few training races before the Chevron Houston Marathon in order to see what improvements I can make and what type of fuel and hydration plan I will use on the big race day.
Things that I like to figure out during those training races is how to maneuver through other runners, what a comfortable race pace is for me, and when and how will I hydrate and refuel. I also remember I used to spend a lot of energy and effort running around other runners in the beginning of a race and in the end, my pace suffered tremendously as I wore myself out. Training races have helped me navigate and learn how to maneuver around other runners – if I have to – but my main focus is keeping a steady pace for the entire race. Just about anyone can benefit from a shorter distance race this fall and winter as an opportunity to take your training further.
Race day will be here before we know it. I can already feel the excitement as I count down the days until we cross the finish line. Remember, if you stay dedicated, you are going to be beyond prepared and ready for this race. See you in January!
#houambassador and two-time finisher of the Chevron Houston Marathon, Lee-Lee Pham is a mother of two little ones, ages four and one. She began running after the birth of her first child with her husband pushing a stroller not too far behind. When her mom passed away in 2014, Lee-Lee signed up and was selected for the Chevron Houston Marathon lottery entry. Training for the marathon was a way for her to get through the tough emotional times. A “High Noon” runner, you can find her along the Buffalo Bayou trails during her lunchtime. Lee-Lee tells people that the Chevron Houston Marathon is something you cannot describe because you have to experience and feel it to understand how awesome the race is.