Training for a half marathon

This morning, a handful of HYPEsters will take Santa Monica streets by storm in the Santa Monica Classic 5K/10K run. But across town, one dedicated runner from HYPE Performance’s team will complete a half marathon in the Kaiser Permanente Pasadena Marathon race. Since this is Lauren McKeithan’s second half marathon – she ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November – training and prep in the months before the run came more naturally. Still, getting ready to run 13.1 miles is quite the task, both physical and mental. McKeithan fills us in on how she does it.

How far in advance do yo
u start training?

After the half in Philly, I found that I loved running so much, so I basically didn’t stop training after that. I figured I did all this work to train up to that event, why let it go to waste? So since then I’ve been maintaining about 30 miles a week. But for this race, I changed my running routine slightly [over the past couple months] to make sure I would be ready. I added sprints once a week to strengthen my legs, and have made my weekly long-distance running increasingly longer

Comparatively, how far in advance did you start training for your first half?

I was training from scratch, because I was only able to run about two miles at a time before I started my training. I trained for 3.5 months religiously and really pushed myself to run more and more. It’s amazing to think that I was so scared to embark on my first five-mile run during training. Now I do a seven-mile run twice a week just for maintenance!

There are lots of training options – from the schedules online to a running team to a personal trainer – but what’s your approach?

For my first half, I followed a 14-week training plan that I found on Runner’s World online – I followed it to a T. It seemed reasonable for someone just starting out [like me].

For this race, I run seven miles twice a week and then a longer run on Saturday (9 to 11 miles). I run sprints on a treadmill midweek, alternating between half-mile jogs and sprints. I also cross-train the other days of the week in HYPE classes: boxing, weight-lifting and climbing the Santa Monica stairs. My mom has also been training for the Pasadena Half Marathon. She lives near San Francisco, though, so I haven’t been able to train with her, but we check in a couple times a week to see how each other is doing.

Do you alter your diet when you’re training? What foods are good to have as part of your runner diet, particularly as you get closer to the race?

My diet consists mostly of lean protein (chicken, eggs and fish) and lots of fruits, veggies and nuts. I always have eggs and fruit or yogurt for breakfast, a salad and protein for lunch, and some kind of protein and veggies for dinner. I snack during the day on nuts and fruit, and I eat lots of berries so I don’t get sick! My diet is usually very low-carb already since I don’t eat gluten, but during the two weeks before a race I eat more carbs – things like gluten-free oatmeal, granola, quinoa or sweet potatoes. Overall, I eat a lot! All the running makes me very hungry.

The night before the run I eat a homemade turkey burger patty (no bun) and sweet potatoes. And in the morning, I have a cup of coffee, half a banana and almond butter as my fuel.

What is your preferred running gear?

My favorite color is purple, so I’ll wear my purple running tank top and my grey Nike capri pants because they’re the most comfortable.

What’s on your half marathon playlist?

It’s empty . . . Believe it or not, I actually don’t like to listen to music when I run. Seriously?! I usually start a run with a song stuck in my head, or I’ll think about the week ahead of me. And then about half way through I find that I’m not thinking about anything at all, and that’s when I know it’s a great run.

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