Deena Kastor Shares Insider Advice on Tackling a Half-Marathon
A course-strategy session was followed by a Q&A, meet-and-greet, and photo ops with the women’s running legend.
Kastor holds American records in the marathon, half-marathon, and other road distances. She’s also no stranger to the SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon—she’s raced the event four times, taking the tape in 2013, 2014, and 2015. This weekend, she’ll return to Central Park to do it again. Her goal: “Run hard from the gut." [Editor's note: Kastor won the 2017 SHAPE Women's Half-Marathon in 1:16:18.]
If you’ll be joining Kastor in tackling two-plus counter-clockwise loops of Central Park on Sunday, tap into her best advice for a super-successful 13.1.
Wake up early
Give yourself enough time to eat (and digest) a breakfast that contains a mix of carbs and protein. A hard-boiled egg and toast with butter is Kastor’s go-to pre-race meal.
“Go out on the conservative side…but crush that second loop”
When you come into the park, it’s easy to feed off the adrenaline and excitement at the start, but rein it in. “Emotional control is a big thing when you’re attacking 13.1 miles,” says Kastor. Instead, explore the first loop, get a feel for it, find the hills, take in the scenes of Central Park. “But crush that second loop,” she adds. “Running a negative split in any race is impressive.”
On hills, “go off of feel”
“Don’t obsess about being a little slower than pace, because you can make up for it on downhills,” says Kastor. On uphills, maintain your effort. And on the downhills, try to land solid. In terms of making your strides shorter and quicker versus longer and slower, “make sure you’re as comfortable as possible,” says Kastor. “Don’t overthink it. It’s just a hill. Run it authentically.”
“Shift your mental game”
“Going into this race, really work on your mental game—because physically, you’re all prepared for this,” says Kastor. “If I’m on a hill thinking Oh my legs are so tired, I immediately shift my mental game to thinking Oh good, I get to use different muscles now. Make your thoughts work for you the entire time. Opting for a more positive outlook will always be rewarding.”
Pick up some frozen peas
Kastor’s favorite recovery trick: “A pack of frozen peas on the lower back.” Repeat throughout the week following a race. Also do some easy running or walking (shopping counts, too, she says); hydrate, replace electrolytes, and eat nutrient-rich foods; get plenty of sleep so that your muscles can repair themselves; and perform active isolated stretching.
Want in on great opportunities like this one? Visit the NYRR RUNCENTER page for a full schedule of upcoming events—they’re free!