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Hitting the Streets

Posted on Jan 01, 2016 in Seaside Half Marathon , Training , January-February 2016

The Seaside Half Marathon is accomplished one step at a time By Lori Leath Smith

I have never been a runner, and never will be. But Henry David Thoreau once said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”

There is something about having a goal and moving, literally, toward it. One of mine this year is to blast through the finish line of the Seaside Half Marathon. OK, well, maybe I won’t be blasting, since I’ve never run a half marathon, or even attempted to. Let’s be realistic. But, in my mind, I’m visualizing myself as victorious.

I have previously jogged/walked a 5K. So, my goal is to be ready to walk or walk/jog/run this popular half marathon along 30A in about eight weeks. In fact, forget running — I’ll be happy to just finish and, hopefully, not in last place. But if it comes to that, then at least I conquered.

And with holidays now a memory, what a great motivator to get my wellness routine back on track (yes, it’s a lifestyle now), restore energy and incorporate a few smart, reasonable adjustments that will also help loosen up those now-tighter jeans before spring break.

It’s time to take the offensive and forge ahead with, not only training for a half marathon, but also the long-term weight loss goals and strategies established last year. The best defense is a good offense when it comes to setting yourself up for a healthy return no matter what transpired over the holidays. Passion for health-done-right, positive thinking and an “I can” attitude is what will ultimately act as the motivation, one step and one day at a time. I like to remind myself that I’m only one healthy meal and one workout away from getting back on track. And when I achieve the milestone of finishing the half marathon, there will be a sense of accomplishment.

More than 2,000 runners show up each year for the Seaside half marathon and the 5K event combined. I’m looking forward to the stretch that will take me in front of the Gulf and beaches through Watercolor, Grayton Beach and other stops along 30A. Though this is a way I can participate in my own community, I can’t help but think that an out-of-town guest can’t beat the location and the laid back feel of this course, as well as the post-race celebration.

On the day of the race, I’ll begin in front of the Seaside Post Office for the 13.1 mile trek, and from there follow a route that will take me westward along the highway for six and a half miles, and then six and a half back in reverse to the finish line. Thankfully, the course is mostly flat which is great for a beginner like me.

I’m told I will need to keep a pace of 14 minutes per mile or better in order to finish in time to have my official race time recorded. Yikes! Is that hard? I’m unsure, but you, my readers, I feel confident, will continue to encourage as you’ve been doing these past few months. And I’ll need it!

To help me begin a training regimen, since you can’t just show up the day of and expect to run or even walk 13.1 miles, I decided to tap into the Internet, where there are limitless websites and blogs with training programs that offer support. I honed in on an eight-week beginner training program that came highly recommended from Women’s Running (search for for training tips) which involves working around a demanding marketing and public relations work schedule. It is a training regimen that has me running/jogging three times during the week with two days a week of optional walking, running or workout and taking a longer run on Sundays. There is one rest day per week. I’ve read that the key to crash training (I’m calling it that since I only have eight weeks) is to build up quickly without taking huge risks by maintaining frequency and intensity. Doing some kind of cardio almost every day — whether that means running, walking or cross-training — will help me make the most of my time.

To augment those efforts, I am continuing daily 30-minute workouts at home (uh-huh, planks and push-ups) and in the gym (weights), which have contributed immensely to my weight loss efforts and positive mental attitude thus far. (See articles at

While I chose a four-day-a-week running schedule, there are a plethora of other possibilities, depending on level, amount of time needed prior to the race and goals. The websites (see sidebar for a list) post training schedules that range from those for the experienced marathon runner, whose goal is to reduce the length of time it takes to finish a race, to the first-timer who is unable yet able to run three miles. There are even apps, for example “From Couch to Half Marathon,” that allow the user to log in and keep track of progress in addition to keeping the schedule and daily tips. I’m using one called “MapMyRun” that allows me to plug in the date of the event, my current fitness level, how many days I want to run, etc. It then tracks my progress for me and offers a schedule that I can integrate into my digital calendar. Isn’t technology great!

Along with physical training, Jenifer Kuntz with Raw & Juicy here in Seaside said there are other factors to consider while getting ready for the big day:

Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up each day.

And eat again every three to five hours. Starting my day with a healthy meal, then spacing meals evenly to maximize metabolism, regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, evens out my appetite since it seems I’m getting hungrier due to a ramped up workout schedule.

Drink water, water & more water.

Jenifer says it’s important to drink enough water, not only during the race, but also in the weeks leading up. Water, especially alkaline or filtered, supports optimal metabolism and helps you feel better fast. A good aim is 2 to 2.5 liters a day (about 8 to 10 cups).

Maintain nutritional balance.

Jen says I should increase my consumption of fruit, vegetables, protein and fat, in proportion to my complex carbohydrate intake. While the carbs are important for energy supply, it is important to remember protein is crucial for repair and re-growth, calcium (strong bones), fat (protection of vital organs) and vitamins and minerals (prevention of illness/promotion of good health).

My plan is to eat as much organic and locally grown leafy, green vegetables, dried fruit, eggs, beans and lean meat to cut down on picking up illnesses, such as coughs or colds, keep me from feeling sluggish, and help me to stay alert. Of course, I’m going to continue with my nutritional supplements that have also helped with the weight loss and energy. I am also trying to eat dinner by 7 or 8 p.m., get three meals in, eat healthy snacks (apple), and, of course, eliminate the foods I caved into over the holidays, at least for the next eight weeks. Jen says there is a good rule of thumb when choosing what to eat: eat in color —carrots, beets, peppers, spinach are nutrient rich and packed with antioxidants. And they are in abundant supply at The Seaside Farmers Market each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sleep at least 7-8 hours (especially if you’re over 50).

Rise and sleep at approximately the same time every day. Our bodies rest best when we put them on a regular schedule. With a consistent training schedule should also reside a consistent sleep schedule for optimal health as well as feeling your best with lots of energy alongside.

Schedule deliberate downtime each day.

Take 5-10 minutes to escape to a quiet place every day to rejuvenate body and mind. A healthy routine of quiet time, taken whenever and wherever you can grab it, will alleviate pent up stress. My personal preference is first thing in the morning before the day even gets started, just to get grounded and centered and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.

Get a good pair of running shoes.

I am learning the hard way just how important this piece of running gear is. I have had to try on several pairs to find the best cushion and comfort for my feet and have now invested in another pair to rotate during my training period.

For this 50-something-year-old gal, I hope that training for the half-marathon will offer more than just an opportunity to finish a race, but will also help me on the frontlines of my new normal —“Aging Gracefully.” And it will also provide a sense of achievement as I work to meet, what is for me, a challenging goal. Whether you’re training for a half marathon or not, won’t you join me?

Websites offering advice, tips and training schedules: