It's running season in Israel! The weather has dropped and a cool breeze is present until at least 8:30 a.m. I am a huge advocate for the pre-dawn workout. I may be an overly enthusiastic (slightly annoying?!), early bird but there is something so amazing about starting one's day with some form of exercise.
This time of year I always notice more runners on the streets. Jerusalem at sunrise is a bit dark, cool, and quiet with the exception of the occasional bus on King George or the rhythmic brush of the broom bristles as the street sweeper makes his way down Yaffo. Even the train is quieter pre-dawn.
With the introduction of the Jerusalem Marathon six years ago, Jerusalem has become a city full of runners. I see all types running at all hours. Serious athletes, yeshiva students, sem girls, groups of women. Running has become in vogue in the holy city!
Could there be a better place to train? Holy city and holy hills! Running up Jabotinksky, Betzalel, Nayot all the way up to the tip top of Rupin...could your heart, lungs, and glutes get a better workout? For a beginning runner it can be a bit intimidating, but after you've made a few loops around the city you quickly learn how to get some straights in with the hills. I promise Jabotinsky doesn't feel like a hill after you've run it 100 times. It feels more like an unending incline. It ain't so bad!
Any runner who has put in their mileage here is a better runner because of it. Wanna be a runner? You've picked a great season to start. The Jerusalem Marathon is around the corner and you've got just enough time to train!
5 Ways to Be a Runner Today!
1. Get some good solid shoes. Habit has me buying Asics but there are a lot of great other brands out there. Runnersworld.com has a shoe finding app that has some suggestions if you need a starting point.
2. Need a training plan? Not sure how to start? How much mileage or got some pacing issues? Email me or download the app Couch to 5k.
3. Find a run buddy. Running early or late is more fun and safer with a friend. (And with some pepper spray and a personal alarm.) Buddy up with a friend who is at your level or even a bit more and can provide some guidance and support.
4. Make a schedule. We don't fail to plan, we plan to fail. Not sure who coined that phrase, but it's so true. Focus on fitting running into your schedule three time a week. Guess what? All you need is 35 minutes. A few minutes to stretch, a solid 30 minute run, and some more stretching at the end. When I'm really crunched for time, running a fast paced 25 minute run still gives me the serotonin burst I enjoy without compromising my schedule. When you're a busy mom, five minutes can be the difference between the kids missing the bus or not, so I appreciate an abbreviated run, if needed, because everybody wins. Find the three days that will work for you, discuss it with whomever you need help from or can provide support and commit. Be consistent- rain, cold, and flurries aren't reasons to skip a run:)
5. Understand your dietary needs. How you eat can either help or sabotage your efforts to run. Don't eat prior to running (I favor some coffee and maybe a small glass (4 oz.), of fresh pressed juice 30 minutes before), and fuel up properly afterwards to aid muscle recovery. My favorite post run snack that has the perfect balance of protein to carbs (that's a four to one ratio!), is...get ready cuz you're gonna love this...8 ounces of CHOCOLATE MILK. I'm not into milk or sugar for a number of reasons but an occasional treat of hot chocolate after a workout is yummy and has enough benefits that I can forgive milk for it shortcomings:) Sugar is evil (see my previous blog), but if there ever was a time to eat it, post work out is it.
I also love a tablespoon of peanut butter and an apple or date. Protein is key for muscle recovery so remember to get some within 30 minutes after every workout.
6. Set a running goal and sign up for a race. There are marathons and running events happening all the time. The Tiberias marathon is just a few months away and then Jerusalem and Tel Aviv happen before Pesach, In addition, there is a women's annual relay triatholon that takes place in May. And if you're really enthusiastic there is the Har to Valley Race before the weather gets super hot. There are running events all year and signing up for one is a great way to set a goal and work it!
Good luck and let me know how it goes! Maybe we'll pass each other on one of these holy hills:)