Saturday, January 31, 2015

Training for a half marathon: No pain, no gain?

Training for a half marathon is hard work. We follow Jennifer Fontanez as she follows a 12-week training schedule. (Danielle Pellegrino Stauts / For Philly.com)
Training for a half marathon is hard work. We follow Jennifer Fontanez as she follows a 12-week training schedule. (Danielle Pellegrino Stauts / For Philly.com)

Jennifer Fontanez is a kindergarten teacher in South Jersey who is training for her first half marathon.

When training programs begin packing on the miles, one of the questions many runners will face is when to push through and when to take a break? The twelve-week training program I am following is a guide to being prepared for a half marathon. It doesn’t mean if you have to swap out a run for cross-training or take a rest day that you won’t be successful in the overall training.

The mentality of ‘no pain, no gain’ is not black and white. If your body is in pain, it’s time to take a break before you end up with an injury. Improper form and footwear can increase your chance of injury, and if your body is telling you it is in pain, you need to listen. So far, I have not encountered any alarming pain in my joints or muscles. However, I am keeping in mind the warning signs that indicate I should stop and evaluate the situation.

Yes, there has been some pain as the training program progresses. And yes, I have had days when my muscles felt tired, but I needed to push through. The challenge is learning the difference between pain from an injury and pushing your body to a new level. Last week had a higher overall mileage, so after my long run the previous week, I decided to change a 4-mile run day to a cross-training day. An overly tight calf muscle had me thinking that it could be a potential injury if I didn’t rest, but also that a cross-training day with some stretching was just what I needed. I was introduced to the foam roller to stretch out my muscles and it’s now my new best friend. With no idea how to use it, I found some great foam rolling basics for beginners, and definitely got much more out of my warm up stretches and cool down. Especially after last week's 9-mile run, my muscles felt great after stretching and working out my muscles on the roller!

More coverage
  • Week 6: I'm halfway there!
  • Week 5: Testing my commitment
  • Week 4: Slow and steady wins the race
  • I’m excited for this week’s schedule and hitting the double digits in my mileage. Here’s hoping the weather was just as beautiful as this week!

    Monday: OFF
    Tuesday: 4 miles
    Wednesday: 6 miles
    Thursday: 4 miles
    Friday: OFF
    Saturday: 4 miles
    Sunday: 10 miles

    How do you tend to sore muscles? Tell me in the comments.

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    Run with me!:

    Follow me on twitter as I continue with the next week of training: @fitfunjen203.

    If you haven't yet registered for the Wild Half Marathon, click here. Philly.com readers get $10 off registration before May 1 by using promo code PHILLYDOTCOM at checkout.

    Jennifer Fontanez
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