Last week, I wrote about the fact that there is a half-marathon every month through the end of the year here in Tucson. Well, some readers have written to tell me that there are more - there are actually two Tucson-based half-marathons in October, plus a batch of fun and quirky half-marathons within easy driving distance all the way into the spring.
So, in the spirit of being wrong, here are seven things not to do if you want to happily complete one of the upcoming half-marathons:
• Don't get psyched out: Instead of being afraid about what you haven't done, concentrate on what you have done well. Remember all those miles you've put in. Think about your consistent long runs. Recall how you crushed those speed workouts. Think back to when you woke to do early morning runs instead of sleeping in. Replace negative thoughts with positive recollections, and then let your training get you through the race.
• Don't eat fried food or chips and salsa: In the days leading up to your half-marathon, don't give in to your taste buds or the happy-hour menu. Be sure to store your needed glycogen by eating complex carbohydrates like breads and bagels, rices, pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods. A doughnut here and there won't hurt - well, unless it is on race morning. And drink more water, sports drinks, fruit drinks than normal - but less soda, coffee and tequila.
• Don't give up when you get tired: Don't get discouraged when the going gets tough. Once you commit yourself to competing, you owe it to yourself to finish - even if things don't go your way. Use landmarks to help you: Pick a tree to focus on and run fast to it, then run fast to that next mile marker. Catch the person in front of you, then the next one. Get over the hill and enjoy the downhill. Soon, you'll feel better and you'll be on your way again.
• Don't give in to pity form: I'm sure you've seen pity form - head back, mouth open, arms carried high, breaths coming in short, high-pitched gasps: "Oh, the world is falling. I can't do this." Instead of giving in to pity form, simply take a deeper series of breaths, open your chest a bit, lean forward, and drive your arms. You'll be amazed how easy it is to run faster when you concentrate on keeping your form.
• Don't start like a wild dog: Don't let the excitement of race day control you. It's easy to run too fast early in a race: You're fresh and chipper. Instead, you need to harness your energy and use it when you need it. Be patient in the beginning, relax through the middle miles, and have fun in the final miles.
• Don't run too far: 13.1 miles is far enough - there's no need to run any farther, so try to cut the tangents of every course.
• Finally, don't wear new clothes on race day: Always wear clothes that you've worn before. Wear shoes in which you've done long runs, but also make sure that you wear comfortably used socks, running shorts, tops, and sports bras. It is hard enough to run fast, but unwanted chafing makes it that much harder. Don't forget Vaseline or some other product to protect your armpit area, your toes and elsewhere.
a few Half-Marathons
• Oct. 9: TMC Get Moving Tucson Half-Marathon, featuring "A" Mountain, www.azroadrunners.org
• Oct. 23: TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon and Half-Marathon, www.mountlemmonmarathon.com
• Nov. 13: TMC Fleet Feet Half-Marathon and 5K, www.everyoneruns.net
• Dec. 11: Holualoa Tucson Marathon and Damascus Bakeries Half-Marathon, www.tucsonmarathon.com
• Jan. 15: Rock & Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon in Phoenix, runrocknroll.competitor.com/arizona
• Jan. 28: Yuma Territorial Marathon and Half-Marathon, www.yumamarathon.com
• Feb. 4: Sedona Marathon and Half-Marathon, www.sedonamarathon.com
• Feb. 19: The Lost Dutchman Arizona Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 8K Trail Run, and Two Mile Fun Run/Walk, www.lostdutchmanmarathon.org
• March 25: Valley of the Gold Arizona Distance Classic Half-Marathon and 5K, www.arizonadistanceclassic.com
Randy Accetta is the race director for the TMC Get Moving Tucson Half-Marathon. Accetta competed in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. A certified running coach by the Road Runners Club of America, by day he teaches at the University of Arizona.