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Can You Run A Half Marathon After 40? Can you run a half marathon at any age? Read on to get half marathon preparation tips and nutritional information for getting your body ready to run.
Half Marathon Preparation Tips
Nutrition + Training
Can You Run A Half Marathon After 40? Can you run a half marathon if you are under 40? Are you contemplating running your 1st half marathon? It’s a bucket list item for many. Just to say that you have done it once. Then there are folks that want to run half marathons every weekend. I am NOT one of those people, I will tell you that right now. I am one of those people that believes in YOU though. I am one of those people that works out regularly and I do try my best to eat healthy, but I do enjoy my adult beverages and chocolate too.
It’s been about 5 or 6 years since I ran my first half marathon. My sister-in-law was coming to visit and she said that we WERE running the half marathon in St. Pete. I figured, sure…why not??
Everyone thought I was CRAZY. I had never ran 13 miles in a row before, but I was working out 4-5 times a week, so I wasn’t worried about being in shape. I went for a few walks and timed myself. I didn’t know what to expect, and that was probably a good thing. I didn’t do any of the training that you can find online, I just decided that I was going to try my best. Now, I am in no way a doctor and I am not telling you that everyone out there can do a half marathon, but I am giving you my opinion, that if you try – you can.
To register for a half marathon – you have to be able to complete it within 4 hours. That’s like an 18 minute mile. Have you ever walked around for 3 hours straight before? I’m sure you have, I have a BUNCH of times, Disney, Epcot, various theme parks, down the beach – you name it. If you can walk it, you can do it. You don’t have to RUN the whole 13 miles. There may be some pride that factors into it – that you really WANT to run the whole thing, but wouldn’t it be amazing to just say you did a half marathon?
What you do need to do is:
- Believe in yourself
- Be able to walk for at least 3-4 hours
- Train enough so that you feel comfortable when you step up to that starting line
A lot of any training is mental, you have to believe in yourself. That is probably one of the most important half marathon training tips I can give you, believe in YOU.
I go to Jazzercise, go to the gym, and I run. Before any race, I make sure that I do a combination of it all, but most importantly I get a couple long distance jogs/walks in. The duration can be rough, your legs have to be used to constantly moving for 2 – 4 hours. So, train those muscles. Get them used to the movement.
Watch what you put into your body. Eat right – get in those fruits and vegetables (may I suggest trying one of my 50+ smoothie creations?), drink LOTS of water, and replenish what your body uses during your workouts. I have been drinking organic sports drinks made with coconut water after my long runs and intense workout sessions.
Nutrition is critical to the success of any runner. Runners should understand that nutrition is the foundation of being able to successfully run for miles on end, especially a half marathon.
Most runners put the bulk of their attention on their training schedules, but spending some time thinking about what they eat before, during, and after their runs, can pay dividends to feel better, running longer and achieving better performance. That’s why nutrition is a big part of training for a half marathon.
The best way to think about nutrition as it relates to running is that food is fuel. Just like a car that runs on gasoline, the body runs on calories from food, and lots of calories are needed for running. Also, like our car analogy, a car specifically runs on gasoline. Put paint thinner in the tank. It won’t run. The body needs specific types of fuels to power exercise as well. And, just like a car that can carry only so much fuel in its tanks, the body can only stow so much away for use during exercise, which is why it becomes important to replenish fuel on the go when running for a long time.
What Types of Foods to Eat
Food provides the body with four different types of calories: protein, fat, carbohydrates, and alcohol. Exercise is primarily fueled by carbohydrates. Carbohydrates-rich foods are then grouped into simple (sugars) or complex carbohydrates (starches). Exercise is fueled best from foods high in complex carbohydrates. Chocolate milk is an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamins that your body needs.
That means that runners need to ensure that their diet includes plenty of starchy foods, which would include rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes, to name a few. The body is able to turn these foods into fuel that can be stored for use in the muscles during exercise.
When to Eat What
Next, the fuel needs to be there in the body when needed for exercise. Going back to our car analogy, it doesn’t make sense to put gas in the car after it runs out of fuel. The fuel needs to be in the tank when you leave for the trip.
Runners should concentrate on dividing their eating needs into the time periods of before, during, and after their runs.
Before running – concentrate on eating the complex carbohydrates needed to act as fuel for running and exercise.
During running – Try to replenish at least 20% of what the body is burning to keep from getting low on fuel.
After running – replenish complex carbohydrates by eating within the first 30 minutes to one hour afterward when the body is most receptive to refueling. Eating about 15 grams of protein during this time will also help speed recovery from exercise. Grab a glass of chocolate milk!
How Much to Eat
There are some rules of thumb that can help in figuring out how many calories are needed for running. On average, it takes about 115 calories to run a mile. The actual amount of calories needed depends on the runner’s weight and the speed that they run. The heavier and the faster the runner, the more calories burned.
As a simple rule, runners need to make sure they eat enough complex carbohydrates to cover 115 calories for each mile that you plan to run the following day. For example, if planning on running 6 miles, then the runner should aim to consume about 690 calories from carbohydrates in preparation for that run.
In general, eating enough calories will help increase energy during runs, which will allow workouts to be harder, longer, and faster. Runners should experiment with diet, and they’ll find their half marathon training to be much more effective.
The 24 Hours Leading Up To Race Day:
- The day before the race, REST – don’t workout out today.
- Get extra sleep. Most half marathons start early in the morning, so be sure to go to bed extra early.
- In the morning, wake up in plenty of time to get ready and get to the starting line – the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out in the morning.
- Have breakfast. I eat what everyone told me to eat before starting (a banana with peanut butter and a bagel or bread for some carbs).
- I drink at every water station during the run (I figure if they are there, they are there for a reason).
- Walk if you have to – there is no shame in it!
- Go ahead and cry! The feeling of accomplishment that you get when you cross the line is absolutely amazing. I tear up every time.
- Try to eat foods and drink the chocolate milk that is offered at the finish line.
I have done several half marathons and I have another one coming. This will be my first half since I turned 40. It will be the first half marathon since I tore a meniscus in my knee. But I am gonna do it. I am listening to what my body needs (fruits, veggies, water, protein, etc.), resting when it tells me to, and I will cross that finish line.
So, if you are sitting there thinking that you can’t do, I want you to take a moment and believe in YOURSELF. You are amazing. You can do whatever it is you put your mind to.
I am always amazed by those that I meet while running, or just those that I see doing the course that inspire me. You will see kids (yes, I have seen kids under 15!), grandparents, those in wheelchairs (and those without legs), and so many more.
So does it matter that I am over 40? No. Age is just a number. My parents always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. And I will.
Can You Run A Half Marathon After 40? Yes! Use these Half Marathon Preparation Tips to help you get ready for the big day.
*Remember I am not a doctor and the opinions above are just that, my opinions, consult a doctor regarding anything you and your body needs.