When I signed up to run a half marathon, the farthest I’d ever run was 4.5 miles, I’d never run a race, and I had only really considered myself a runner for about two weeks.

See, I’m the type of person who is perfectly happy to go exercise without a long-term goal in mind (besides, you know, staying healthy). I love working out, plain and simple, and I’m grateful every day that I can do it.

But I guess if we’re being honest, I also like seeing results. I followed BBG for 10 weeks and felt stronger and saw more muscles everywhere. I loved it. As the weather got nicer, I started itching to trade my basement strength sessions for runs with the sunrise. My standard running route wasn’t that long and I wasn’t training for anything. Suddenly, I wanted a goal, though. I started thinking about running a half-marathon.

I’m not generally spontaneous, but frankly, the Disney Princess Half Marathon is Beauty and the Beast themed this year, and Belle is my favorite princess (no shame). So, when registration opened, I signed up.

And I’m still kinda freaking out about it.

The race is in February, so I won’t start officially training until about the end of October. I like to be over-prepared for everything, and this is no exception. Here’s how I’m preparing:

Physical Therapy

My hip is already acting up as I start increasing my mileage, so I’m regularly seeing a (great) physical therapist to help build strength in my weaker hip. You use a ton of small muscles you’ve never even though about when you’re running, and it turns out some of mine aren’t the strongest. She’s also taught me that I shouldn’t keep doing exercises if they hurt. 

That sounds so simple, but as someone who likes to go all in, it’s something I have to remind myself a lot.


I have to eat a lot even when I’m not running a lot just to keep on weight. I already work out plenty, so I’m used to an intake that works for my current mileage. As I increase the amount I run, though, I need to be sure to get in adequate calories. Also, I’m figuring out what foods I can eat before running to keep my stomach calm and my energy up. Right now, I find that dates and dried figs and water work for me as pre-run energy. Post-run, I typically make a smoothie packed with protein and carbs and drink some tart cherry juice. The rest of the day, I focus on eating a little extra and getting enough salt, since you lose that when you sweat and I naturally eat a low-salt diet. 


Whoa, the runner is running to prepare to run some more? What a shock. I’ve been running about 4 days a week, as my hip allows. I ran one 10K race.


A photo posted by Ellen on

I’m now incorporating speed work for the first time ever. And I’m planning to run at least another 10K and possibly a 15K in the fall just to get acclimated to the racing environment.

Stretching + Yoga

I have the tightest hips and hamstrings ever, and I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t stretch, foam roll, and throw some yoga into my routine, I can’t run as much as I’d like to. Sometimes I say that I don’t have time to stretch, but the reality is that if I don’t have time to stretch, I don’t have time to run. They need to go together for me to be successful.

Even though I’m still sort of wondering what on Earth I got myself into, I’m excited for training to start and for all the adventures and lessons I’ll learn along the way. And in the mean time… does anyone have any tips for training in the middle of Chicago winter?

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About The Author

Ellen is a second year economics major at the University of Chicago, and she is originally from Columbus, Ohio. Her favorite things include writing, hockey, Ohio State football, tea, Diet Coke, photography, cooking and baking, yoga and running, and food and fitness in general. She talks a lot about all of these things on her blog, My Uncommon Everyday. She considers herself a connoisseur of pizza, nut butter, and dark chocolate.

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