Hitting My Stride

Hi there! My name is Tara and I am a junior studying Journalism and Spanish. When I’m not searching for the perfect cup of coffee, you can find me exploring the beautiful outdoors. These days, you can also catch me training for my first half marathon! I signed up to run the Madison Half Marathon and am excited to tell you more about how I’ve been preparing for it.
I walk just under a mile to get to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other three days of the week, it’s a quick one-fifth of a mile – or a three-minute walk if I time the stoplights just right.

When I’m craving a good study snack, Greenbush is exactly one mile from my front door.
At UW-Madison, I’ve grown accustomed to my one-mile radius. Whether I’m walking to class, biking to work, or snagging my favorite table in College Library, I’m used to having so many places nearby. So when I decided to sign up for my first half marathon this November, 13.1 miles seemed like a big number. It intimidated me. #GoodbyeComfortZone
Fast forward two months. Now the leaves are changing, the weather is cooling off and classes are picking up. It’s October! One month until race day. 13.1 miles and counting.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far as I prep for my first half marathon:

  1. Don’t be afraid to adapt. I had a hard time sticking to my training schedule in the middle of the week. As an easy solution, I switched around my rest days. Instead of feeling guilty about skipping my Wednesday workouts, I felt excited about taking a break and getting back to my schedule later in the week again. A few adjustments can go a long way!
  2. Change up your playlist for long runs. (Sorry, T-Swift.) Podcasts are my thing. I love listening to stories about unsolved mysteries, awkward celebrity encounters and everything in between. Some of my favorites are The Moth, a storytelling hour with a variety of speakers, S-Town, from the creators of Serial and This American Life, and Stuff You Should Know, a podcast all you know-it-alls need to know about.To switch things up once I started running for longer distances, I made a mix of music and audiobooks. Now, I start each run listening to part of an audiobook and switch over to music after a couple miles. Added bonus? Unexpected dance parties along the way!
  3. Trust yourself. Where’s a phone charger when you need one? Two miles into my six-mile run, my phone died and with it went my watch, my GPS, and my music. I was thrown off by the sudden silence and worried about running too far or too short a distance. Instead of forfeiting the run, I decided to focus on maintaining a steady pace and trust my instincts. I was happily surprised by the results!I found that listening to my body was a simple way to keep pace. Running without music let me clear my head and I finished the run just a half-mile short of my goal that day. Lesson learned: I’m no longer afraid to grab my watch, my running shoes and hit the trail without music!

While I still have more places to cross off my running trail bucket list (UW Arboretum in the fall? Yes please!), the day of the Madison Half Marathon keeps getting closer. With less than one month to go, I am excited to keep training! I have hit a stride with balancing my weekly training schedule with my life as a student.
The half marathon training guide I found online has been keeping me on track towards my goal. I have discovered a lot about myself as I continue to work towards completing not only a half marathon, but all the preparation leading up to it, too!
Are you working towards a fitness goal right now? Have you discovered anything new about yourself from your training habits?