Jummy Olabanji's half marathon blog: Training kicks in

Jummy and her friends ran the Ugly Sweater 5K. She finished in about 34 minutes. Photo: Jummy Olabanji

(WJLA) - Half marathon training has officially started! I have to say – so far, so good!

When I first started this journey, I had a bit of anxiety that I was in over my head. Every time I ran my right knee would hurt and my legs would be so sore! Luckily, all of that is gone!

I feel so amazing after I finish a run. As far as training goes, I’ve adapted my own version of Hal Higdon’s Novice Half-Marathon training program, and so far I’ve been keeping up with it. Here’s the breakdown:

Monday: Cross Training (usually spin classes or a high-intensity interval training boot camp)
Tuesday: Run 3 miles (easy run)
Wednesday: Stretching (yoga or pilates)
Thursday: Run 3, 4 or 5 miles (I will increase and then decrease as I get close to race day)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Long run (started with 3 miles, increase mileage by one mile every other week until race week until I get to 12 miles)
Sunday: Rest and stretch

Obviously, every runner’s training program is going to be different; you really have to do what works for you. Before I came up with my plan, I reached out to Anne Mauney. Anne is a Washington D.C. area Registered Dietitian who owns a nutrition counseling private practice.

She is also the writer behind the food and fitness blog fANNEtastic food, which she uses as a way to motivate others to lead happier, healthier lives through nutrition and exercise.

Anne's favorite form of exercise is running; she has completed 8 half marathons and, mostly recently, one full marathon. She's currently training for her second full marathon this spring!

Anne ran the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. in 2012. She gave some great tips that I wanted to pass along:

1. Invest in a foam roller and use it after every run. She says it can be a huge help with soreness and recovery.
2. She suggests investing in a good pair of compression sleeves or socks to wear during or before/after your runs. Compression sleeves can help with tightness and soreness. I find a good looking pair on and plan to go check them out at the Nike store in Georgetown.
3. “Do what works for you. Just because other people run X amount of days per week doesn't mean you have to…Don't worry about everyone else.” – RIGHT ON, ANNE!
4. Cross train – “Not only will it help to strengthen complimentary muscles that will better your running, but it helps to prevent burnout on running, too. Aim to do some form of strength training (especially for your hips/core) a couple times a week. Yoga and swimming in particular are great cross training options for runners since they help stretch you out and strengthen you at the same time!

I’ve also signed up for several races along the way. In December I ran the Ugly Sweater 5K with some friends. It was a blast. I finished in just under 34 minutes.

In February, I plan to run the George Washington Birthday Classic 10K. In March, I’ll run the St. Patrick’s Day 8K in Downtown DC and in early April I hope to tackle the George Washington Parkway Classic 10-miler. All of these fun races are organized by Pacers, which is a great local running store.

Before I wrap up this post, I just want to thank all of our ABC7 viewers and readers who have reached out with words of encouragement. I received a really sweet email from Mary Ellen Howard in southern Maryland who ran the Divas Half Marathon in Myrtle Beach.

Mary Ellen and her college-aged daughter decided to run together and trained together, even though they don’t live together. They helped each other stay motivated and determined to finish the race. Mary Ellen passed along this great quote that motivated me and I’m passing it along hoping it motivates someone else!

"There will be days when I don't know if I can run a half marathon...there will be a lifetime knowing that I have"