The NYC Marathon took over the five boroughs yesterday, and the the Nike Women's Marathon hit the streets of San Francisco two weekends ago — and that means marathon season is drawing to a close. If you ran the 26.2 miles, we gathered several helpful postrace recovery tips from POPSUGAR editors, so you can be prepared for the next time your body takes on some serious mileage.
There are many things to love about the Nike Women's Marathon — the female-positive message, the energy, and, of course, that Tiffany necklace — and the fact that it's raised over $134 million for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since its inception makes it that much better. I had a blast at last year's race, my first half, so as soon as Nike invited me to run this year as part of their 10th annual celebration, I'd already slipped on my training shoes. With another NWM half under my belt, here's my second-timer's review of the Nike Women's Marathon, plus 11 tips to keep in mind if you're a first-time NWM runner.
First off, there's no denying it: the atmosphere is amazing. There's nothing like 25,000-plus women (and a few men) running the undulating streets of San Francisco, blowing past famous spots like the Embarcadero, Ghiradelli Square, and the Presidio. Even though I've lived in San Francisco for almost a decade, the beauty of the course still motivates me (even when most of it is covered by fog!). The views are picturesque and exactly what you'd expect from a course that winds its way around San Francisco — beautiful Victorian mansions, foggy bay scenes, and greenery everywhere, all ending with spectacular Ocean Beach views while you make your way down the finishing stretch.
The Course: Miles 0-3
The race starts at Union Square at 6:30 a.m., but if you're not in a speedy corral, be ready to show up and wait. I was in the 10:00-10:59-minute corral, so I didn't cross the official start line until about 7 a.m. I didn't mind the wait; it gave me time to warm up, take photos of the crowds, and calm my nerves. Also, with so many Porta-Potties lining the street near our corral (just one of the many details that made me feel much more pampered at this race compared to others), I was able to take a last-minute bathroom break without having to wait in line.
The beginning of the course is slightly downhill and flat along the Embarcadero and past Fisherman's Wharf. The crowds cheering you on are pretty thick here — at one point there was even a choir to help keep our spirits up. Between the energy on and around the course and the fact that I was finally running the race I'd signed up for months ago, I was feeling pretty good. Then came the hills.
The Course: Miles 4-9
If you're not used to hills, the mid part of the course is challenging; it starts with just a short incline as you run past Fisherman's Wharf (around Mile Three) — once you hit Mile Four, though, get ready for miles and miles of hilly terrain. Even though I ran the NWM half last year, I must've blocked the hills out of my mind, because just when I thought I'd tackled the last one, another would loom in the distance. Also, since many people slow down or walk the hills, I spent most of my time navigating my way through throngs of walkers, which slightly slowed me down. The amount of hills and the bottlenecked crowds were a little discouraging, especially as I became more fatigued, but luckily the bulk of them are over after Mile Nine — if you're running the half, it's pretty much smooth sailing after that.
The Course: Miles 10-13.1
There's a steep decline as you descend toward Great Highway along the beach, which is where I decided to make up some of the time I'd lost during my weary last-hill climb. This ended up being a good idea for my chip time, but a bad idea for my legs — after the race I dealt with mildly painful shin splints for a couple days. Next time, I'll definitely remember to incorporate these tips for running downhill safely.
From Great Highway, you'll turn into Golden Gate Park. I was thankful that the end of the run had me on familiar territory; since I live close to the park I regularly run through it to get to the beach, and knowing just what kind of course I'd be expecting helped me mentally power through fatigue, especially since there's a gradual but perceptible incline around Mile 11 — I'd pretty much had it with the hills by then, so knowing what to expect on the road kept me from giving up and walking. Even if you're not familiar with the course, though, knowing that you have less than two miles to go — or, better yet, running past the Ghiradelli station where you're handed free chocolate goodies — will no doubt help motivate you as well.
After running past a soccer field and up a dirt path around Mile 12, you're almost there. The atmosphere changes again; more people are lining the course, the cheering gets louder, and once you've turned out of the park and back onto Great Highway, the finish line is staring you in the face. A flat road, loud encouraging crowds, and the welcoming sight of the finish line — that's all I needed to motivate me to sprint to the end.
All in all, I love running the half at the Nike Women's Marathon. The temperature is always perfect for race day, the views are amazing, and the course is right in my backyard. But there are a few important things to note about this popular race. For one, the crowds — while it's fun to run with thousands of others through San Francisco, the sheer amount of racers can be hard to deal with, especially since many people are running their first half marathons. If you plan on running the whole course, get there early to line up in front of your corral so you aren't dodging and weaving past the walkers, or register for a faster corral where you know there won't be as many walkers. Unlike other races, where walkers know to stay on the right, participants in the NWM — perhaps because they are race newbies — didn't follow this unspoken rule.
On the same note, be warned that there are lines for everything once you make it past the finish line. First you line up so someone can scan your bib to make sure you're legit before you can move through and pick up that blue Tiffany box (handed to you by a tuxedo-clad firefighter, of course). After that, more lines for your finisher's t-shirt, photo ops, bathrooms, and an incredibly long and disorganized line for the shuttle back to Union Square. Other than dealing with the crowds (which were pretty chaotic this year in part because Nike allowed more people to run for the 10th anniversary as well as complications due to the government shutdown), I liked the finisher's village — I felt well taken care of thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who made it their priority to get the runners everything they needed as fast as possible; there was always someone weaving through the crowds handing out water bottles, chocolate milk, heatsheets, and snacks. My overworked muscles appreciated the effort!
Want to sign up for the NWM? Read on for 11 tips you need to know about the Nike Women's Marathon and details about next year's race.
Running uphill can be daunting! We know that fighting gravity as you climb the incline requires serious amounts of energy, but, like with many things in life, there is a technique to conquering hills. Watch this training video, and learn how to tackle the incline. Put these tips into practice, and you will rock the hills on race day.
We all know that running uphill is tough, but going downhill comes with its own set of challenges. With proper technique and a little cross training, you can keep your knees happy while flying down hills. Watch this video to learn how best to approach downhill sections of runs and races.
Be sure to watch our video on how to conquer running uphill, too.
After swearing I'd never run a race again (the consequence of training for and running my first full marathon a few months ago!), I'm finally ready to jump back onto the racing wagon. I've decided on the Nike Women's Half Marathon, held in my home city and conveniently three months away — just enough time to train to hopefully beat my previous personal record. To help me get back on track, I'll be using Nike's new web-based Nike Women's Marathon training app.
Made specifically for the Nike Women's Marathon (both full and half lengths), the web app includes a 15-week detailed training plan that includes a run or workouts for almost every day of the week, along with strategically planned rest days. To do the suggested workouts, you'll need to download the free Nike Training Club iPhone/iPad or Android app and follow along to the timed workout for that day according to the marathon plan. You can choose to share your running and workout goals with friends on Facebook or turn the sharing feature off and use it privately. If virtual encouragement isn't your thing, there's also a local events tab that highlights real-life Nike Women's Marathon training meetups near you.
I've just started using the new app, but I already like the fact that the workouts and runs are right there waiting for me. It's great that you can easily pull up the web app either on your phone or at your computer; once you've signed in with your free Nike+ and Facebook accounts, you're ready to start training and tracking your progress.
Be sure to check out the app if you're running the Nike Women's Marathon, but if you've signed up for a different race this season, we've still got you covered. Find a training plan for your next marathon, half marathon, 10K, or 5K, and watch our videos on tackling different race course challenges here:
The Nike Women's Marathon snaked its way around the hills of San Francisco last Sunday, and we still can't get enough of what we've learned from women running the race. We spoke to a few inspirational ladies before they made their way through the course; read on for their tips on how to prepare for a half or full marathon and what made them choose this particular race (maybe something to do with that Tiffany's finisher's necklace?). And don't forget to read more tips from Nike Women's marathon finishers here!
Last Sunday, Oct. 14, was the ninth running of the Nike Women's Marathon (NWM), and it's fast becoming a San Francisco institution. Over 25,000 runners took to the city's hilly streets, running past the Golden Gate Bridge and along the coastline. The energy of the race is like a girls weekend, but with serious mileage thrown into the mix.Tackling the double-digit mileage of a half or full marathon is daunting, but definitely doable — especially when runners share training tips and advice. I spoke with several women at the Nike Expotique, who were not only stoked to be running the NWM, but were also all happy to share pieces of training advice they learned while prepping for the race. Get inspired and read their recommendations.
Many of the runners emphasized the importance of training with friends. Logging long miles for a half or full marathon is easier if you're sharing them with a running partner or two or eight — the more the merrier.
- After going solo last year at the NWM, Taylor, a student at Cal Poly, rounded up a group of pals to work out with her. "Running with friends makes it so much easier to train."
- Amanda from Oklahoma City seconded the sentiment. Her motivation for sticking with training was a resounding "Friends!"
- Nancy from Juno, AK, relied on her pack of pals to stay motivated. "Find some friends to train with, to keep you on track, and motivate you to run in the rain."
- For Sarah from Napa, CA, having company was especially important on the long runs. "Find someone to do the long runs with you so you will get up on Saturday morning and get it done."
More advice on cross-training and how to keep it fun after the break.
When it comes to running and racing, strong winds can feel like your nemesis. Big breezes are more than mentally grating — they can actually slow you down! But don't skip your scheduled training runs due to windy conditions; they might exist on race day. Check out our tips to help you master running in the wind. Who knows? You just might begin to find breezy conditions invigorating.
Leg cramps plague many a marathoner on race day. Training strategically and running your race with a well-thought plan can help prevent tired muscles from seizing in the final miles. Here are helpful tips for keeping cramps at bay and ways to work through any that might come your way before crossing the finish line.
Whether you're running a 10K or a full marathon, negative splits are truly a positive when it comes to rocking your race. The strategy of starting slowly and picking up your pace in the second half of the race offers a handful of benefits. Watch this video to learn our tips for training and racing with the negative split. Happy running!