10 Tips for a Successful Half Marathon: Even If You Hate Running…

You know those people that are like, OMG I LOVE RUNNING!!! I Ran like, 5 Marathons last year!?

That’s not me.

Actually I swore that I would NEVER run a race longer than a 10K because knee surgery runs in my Father’s side of the family (we all pronate really bad!) and I already get some knee pain after mile 8. Plus, to be honest – there are a handful of other things I would rather do — more like anything…

Well, this year I decided – it’s time to push myself. But it wasn’t just me coming to that conclusion out of the blue. One of our members at the YMCA who has taken my classes for over a year and lost a total of 90 pounds through gradual weight-loss via cultivating a love of fitness – decided to sign up for a Half Ironman this year. She asked, Kristi – “Are you doing it with me??” At that moment I realized I really haven’t pushing myself like I could, and it was time to give some crazy goals a GO. So THANK YOU Leah – you inspire so many with your go-getter attitude!

So in a nutshell, completing a half marathon was a major milestone to the half ironman and I figure…If I don’t like it – I never have to do it again!

Well, much to my surprise… I didn’t hate it. And the hills were KILLER. Actually, there were many people commenting on how the Bremerton Marathon was “one of the worst courses” they have ever ran. And not worse as in ugly or boring, worst as in difficult; leading to a time that is probably NOT a personal best to brag about. Lucky for me, ANY time would be my personal best!

hill run WA

The reason I am writing this article is because I WAS successful for my very first Half. I prepared well, I asked friends for advice, and I do know a thing or two about nutrition and running technique. So, I’m going to share everything I did that made my run not only a success – but incredibly enjoyable – even with the ridiculous amount of hills and even as someone who claims to hate running.

1) Get the right shoe for you. 

Go to a running store or get a personal trainer, or just anyone who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT (and not pretending…) to look at your legs and ankles to see if you pronate, supinate, or have a neutral stance. If you get the wrong shoe for you, you will be in pain, risk injury and not have as good of a race as you could. I know that I pronate pretty bad so I need more support in my shoe. Minimalist shoes look cool – but can really hurt your body if you don’t have a neutral bone structure. Pronation and Supination is typically hereditary and is exacerbated by being overweight. As you lose weight – you might find that you do not need as much support in your shoe.

2) Work up slowly, Be Consistent and Cross-Train

That’s right – DON’T run the entire time!!

You only need to run 2 times a week. Depending on how much time you have to train (allow 2 months at least!!) run 1 long run and up your distance each week by 1-2 miles. Your other run should be shorter and faster. You can even incorporate sprint intervals. Here’s an example…

Week 1

  • Monday = 3 Miles, 10 min Pace.
  • Friday =1.5 Miles, 9 min pace with 2 minutes of Tabata Sprints. (20 second sprint + 10 second walk)

Week 2

  • MON = 5 miles, 10 min. pace
  • FRI = 2.5 miles, 9 min pace with 2 minutes Tabata Sprints

Week 3

  • MON = 7 miles, 10 min pace
  • FRI = 5 miles, 9 min pace with Tabata


You need to try to work out 2 more days a week (preferable 5-6 days total with 1 rest day) If you don’t have time for that, please, please, get a home workout program or find a solution to this. I have a 4 and a 5 year old so I DO understand the cost and time investment. Don’t forget that when you try to cut corner, it shows. Your body and performance is the product of what you do (or don’t do). Plus, your body will thank you for being consistent by reducing your chance of obesity, type 2 diabetes, early aging, cardiovascular diseases, general fatigue… and the list goes on.  Search around for options. At the Bremerton YMCA they offer free child watch classes between 10-12am and I also started out volunteering to get free childcare. If you like  the idea of working out at home – Beachbody Programs can’t be beat, but it can be overwhelming finding the right program for you. Contact me if you would like a free coaching session where we can find the program that will best suit your needs.


Facebook: fb.com/topoutfitness

2) Choose the right workouts – 

This one is pretty simple and you have a lot of options. Basically, all you need to know is that you need to train for endurance and not train for gaining excess bulk. You want to be a lean, mean running machine. Your workouts will not be the same as someone training for a crossfit comp – for example.

  • 1 more cardio day (HIIT CARDIO for 30 minutes or 1 hour of swimming/biking for example)
  • 2 days of strength (PIYO, POWER YOGA, Rock Climbing, Muscle Tone, Strenuous Hiking)
  • excuses2

3) Eat To TRAIN

When training for endurance – glycogen stores MATTER. Eat like an athlete – because you ARE one! How? Time your carbs for 1 serving a few hours prior to your training days (ex: oatmeal LOW IN SUGAR)  then eat a 4:1 ratio food post- workout. That 4 carbs to 1 protein. Also, the type of carbohydrate matters – you want (the only time EVER) something that will spike your insulin – something HIGH on the Glycemic Index such as DRIED FRUIT and Nuts/seeds, CEREAL, PBJ, SHAKEOLOGY + ORANGE JUICE, or a 4:1 PICKY BAR. This comes straight out of the ACE Personal Training Manual!

4) Skip the GU’s. 

They’re expensive. They aren’t natural. And people used to run long distances before anyone knew what a GU was. Their rule is you need one for every 90 minutes of activity. While it is true that at about 90 minutes, its important to fuel with something – it doesn’t need to be a GU. (Plus, they make you MAD THIRSTY) As you get up to about 8 miles during your training, start playing around with different things to see what your stomach will accommodate. Remember, all you need is something HIGH on the Glycemic Index and carbohydrate concentrated – such as – dried fruit, (try dried banana – not the crunchy ones, the chewy ones! You can get it at Trader Joes) Jelly Belly Energy Beans…etc. All you need is something that will give you that extra energy source to get you through the last 4-5 miles. Also, after about 5 miles – start stopping for the water cups or get a water belt to save time. You really need that water to keep going.

5) PRE – FUEL Right! How you can screw up Carb Loading… 

You’ll hear a LOT about carb loading the day or two before, and yes – this is important, but it’s also important to not overdo it. When you carb load, your body will start retaining water (actually good for the race) and storing excess glycogen which you will need. At the same time, when you carb load – it can be really easy to simply eat way too much. I think this is probably due to the word “CARB LOAD” which is indicative of going H.A.M. on large quantities of pasta and bread. :) For this – you need to know a little bit about macros. Carbs = 4g per calorie. SO if you want 70% of your calories from carbs (suggested) and you want to eat 2,300 calories the day before the race, you need:

 (Calories x Percent ) / 4 = ?

 (2,300 x .70 ) / 4 = 402g of Carbs

Remember, the day before the race is a rest day. Use this formula to keep yourself from over eating while upping your ratio of carbs for ultimate performance. If you overeat – it will backfire by leading to stomach upset, Intestinal discomfort and cramping during the race, diarrhea/constipation, and feeling over-all sluggish due to the body trying to break down excess calories and converting them into fat.


Drink a lot of water. The night before your race – you will probably wake up to pee like 3 times. Everytime you wake up, drink MORE water!! Aim for 1oz per pound of body weight the few days before the race. This is double what is typically recommended.

7) The Early Bird Gets the Worm

My race began at 7:30am. I woke up at 5am that morning to be ready! I am the worst about waking up early (my husband can vouch for that one!) but there really is no getting around this, especially if this is your first half. You want to be ready! Here’s  how my morning went and I will recreate this for all my races.

5am: WAKE UP + Coffee + a GIANT CUP of water!! (no more water after this.)

5:30am: Get dressed, Get everything ready, Feed dog, Pet dog, go to the bathroom!!

6am = 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal with Water, 1/2 sliced banana, cinnamon. NO SUGAR

Right before leaving the house = 1 cup water + 1 scoop of E&E! (Beachbody Energy and Endurance. This is the only thing I have found that doesn’t give me jitters or cramps)

6:30 am = Drive to the race. Get parked, get ready. Go pee. (SO IMPORTANT)

(Watch out for eating too much fiber or sugar for breakfast. Stick to easy to digest foods that are LOW on the glycemic index for gradual, slow energy release. Do NOT eat sugar or anything containing sugar. Sugar is HIGH on the Index and will cause an energy spike which will peak BEFORE your start your race, and you’ll be on the crash and burn before you hit halfway!!!) 


8) Pump UP the MUSIC: 

I actually never ran with music before I ran my half. I spent over an hour the night before making my playlist and playing with ear plugs to make sure they weren’t going to fall out of my ears and make my race miserable. For me, music was the icing on the cake. I typically like to run with friends, so I just never took the time for music, but during a competitive race, music can be just what you need to get that rhythm going… and keep it up when your tired as hell.

9) Relax:

Shoulders down, good posture, relax the neck and joints. If you clench you can get nerve pain in the back, neck or shoulders. Concentrate energy toward your legs and glutes. Run on the balls of your feet, activate the glutes for up hill and let the legs go for long strides on down hills. Arms should swing by your side and NOT cross the front of the body. Hands should also be relaxed. Imagine holding an egg in each hand. Take deep, steady breathes to avoid cramping and enjoy!

10) Post RACE – Stretch, Fuel and CARE

Right after racing walk around a bit and pause for quick hamstring and quad stretches. If you immediately stop running and don’t move your legs will probably cramp up. Keep moving for a bit and stretch well.

Drink water and refuel lost electrolytes. I really like coconut water + banana. 

If you start to get leg pain due to cramping or muscle/ligament strain go home and do the RICE method. REST – ICE – COMPRESSION – ELEVATION

Don’t forget to roll out the leg muscles that evening with a foam roller or rolling pin.

CELEBRATE!!! Grab a post race beer and take a selfie! Your first half is a great accomplishment!!! 

What do you think of my tips? How did you train for your first half? I’d love to hear from you!!

 me bremerton marathon BREMERTON MARATHON





Foil-Packet Italian Chicken

baked chicken foil

I know this is not the best photo ever – but I hope it still looks appealing, because trust me – you want to try this!!

PLUS – This is CAMPFIRE Friendly!! :))


I wanted to add this as part of my 2 Week Slim Down meal plan I’m working up. (Want it? Email me: kristinicole.fit@gmail.com) This meal plan is all about what I do to get leaner for the climbing/summer season. As a climber, we all know that the strength to weight ratio means everything. Sadly, they have actually had to put a ban on unhealthy BFP’s in climbing comps due to aspiring climbers slimming down TOO much in order to weightlessly glide the routes.

Lucky for me, I don’t have this problem. haha. I love food so much, that it takes some serious motivation to get me to stop drinking beer and eating cheeseburgers…(omg!!! love them!!) But when I need to get my butt in gear – this is part of what I do – and it works every time… and no it’s not some magical concoction, food group omission, gluten free, or eating lots of coconut oil.

I side with science and I do what is proven – what people have been overlooking is a key ingredient in weight gain and that is INSULIN. 

Most Americans eat a processed-carb heavy diet and have insulin sensitivity => which leads to insulin resistance => which leads to diabetes WAY down the road. Signs of insulin sensitivity are weight gain, fatigue, gas, and feeling MORE hungry after eating carb heavy foods that are also calorie concentrated (pasta, cereal, pastries, breads). Those 4 things go on my RED list when I need to deplete excess fat stores and get down to an athletic BFP (18-20%).

Instead of pasta, this dish is just protein, veggies and a little sprinkle of cheese. This fills me up at the end of the day and sometimes I will even pair it with a small glass of red wine. Enjoy the clean energy!


Season 2 Chicken Breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Top with 1/2 cup (no SUGAR ADDED. I like Trader Joes or Newman’s Own) tomato basil sauce and light sprinkle of mozz cheese. Lightly toss sliced red pepper, green pepper and 1/2 onion (you can also use sliced fennel!!) in 2 tsp olive oil and surround the chicken. Sprinkle freshly cracked pepper over top. Bake at 375 for 35 min! And don’t seal the foil!! Pull the foil up around the sides but let moisture escape.  (BONUS: Turn on the broiler and roast for 3 min. The top will bubble up and the veggies will be more roasted!) 

Melissa D’Arabians Fried Brown Rice and Eggs with a Garlic-Soy Vinaigrette

egg fried rice

I made this meal once.

Then I made it again… and again.. and again…. (what is that funny movie where a guy keeps saying AGAIN….)

It seems that when I’m running low on food and need to make dinner – I always have these ingredients on hand. It’s not only incredibly inexpensive to make – it makes a lot of food! I don’t even have to look at this recipe anymore. Serve it up for lunch OR dinner. I like to let each person “order up” their egg the way they want it. I like it best with the yolk just slightly runny…. This rice bowl will give you tons of energy and is great for fueling lost glycogen stores and fueling up for your activities for the next day. It’s also really easy to customize. Just throw in 2-3 cups of whatever veggies you have on hand. My favorite combo is listed below, but you can also try snow peas, broccoli, parsnips – to name a few. Thanks Melissa, for this recipe!


For the Vinaigrette 

2 TBS Soy Sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 TBS sesame oil

(add a little Sriracha if you like spicy!)

– Wisk and set aside

For the rest

1 TBS sesame oil

chicken broth (this will keep the calories and fat lower!)

2.5 cups brown rice

4 eggs

2-3 cups of mixed veggies (Kristi’s Mix: 1-2 celery stalks, diced, 3/4 cup carrot, 3/4 cup peas, 1/2 cup onion)

3 garlic gloves

2 TBS minced fresh ginger

IN a HOT WOK (or large pan) drizzle the oil and wait 1 min. Add the onion and garlic – BOOM!! (this should be loud with tons of steam). Cook 1 min. Add the rest of the veggies and ginger. Cook until browned stirring often – 2 min. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to deglaze the pan (one again LOUD, lots of steam!). Let this cook down to soften the veggies. Once absorbed, add the rice and cook to brown it a little bit…. and DONE!

In the same pan (nonstick) cook eggs to order and place each one on top of a bowl filled with the rice. Top with sliced green onion and sesame seeds (optional). Let everyone spoon their own Vinaigrette over top. ENJOY!!!

Baked Salmon Praline with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans


Anytime I hear the word “praline” I know I’m in for a treat. If you aren’t from the South and have never had a praline – it is basically browned sugar, butter and chopped pecans that has been boiled and cooled into a flat, delicate candy which melts in your mouth and causes you to reminisce Charleston or Savannah Boardwalks and New Orleans, LA. 

This takes that sweet and salty flavor and puts it over salmon. The result? A rich and delicious fish that tastes amazing – even if you aren’t crazy about fish.

Ingredients – 

  1. Salmon
  2. 100% Maple Syrup 
  3. 4 Sweet Potatoes
  4. Butter
  5. Pecans, finely chopped
  6. Lemon
  7. Green beans (I like Trader Joes bag of Haricot Verts in the frozen section! <2$ for a big bag!) 


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and pop them in the oven for 30 min. 

3. Meanwhile, microwave 2 TBS butter, 2 TBS maple syrup, and 2 TBS chopped pecans and 1 tsp lemon juice in a bowl until melted, stirring often. 

4. Place salmon in a oven safe dish lined with foil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place fish in the middle and pour praline sauce over top. Fold up the foil and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes. 

5. Microwave “steam” the green beans either in the bag or a dish filled with 1/2 cup water. Drain and sprinkle with pepper. 

The potatoes and fish should all be done at the same time! ENJOY!!! 

TIP: If you want to get fancy, this would be really good with my Spiced Sweet Potato Mash! 

This is part of my 2 week Slim Down Meal Plan! Contact me if you are interested! – kristinicole.fit@gmail.com

Carrot- Miso Dip

IMG_1997I love making something that when people try it their eyes immediately light up. That’s what this carrot miso dip does. I promise – you have probably never had anything like it but your brain will register “OMG. SO GOOD.” With no added sugar, or salt and mainly just carrots… what makes this so dang tasty? … Umami.

Yes. That’s a real word.

Umami is a Japanese term that translates to “pleasant savory taste” and this dip is FULL of it. Umami does not just describe things that taste savory – it is a specific, naturally occurring flavor in things such as tomato sauce, roasted veggies, Kimchi, anchovies and Miso.

I bought my miso from Trader Joe’s but you can get it in the refrigerated section in most health food/international groceries. If you are sick of hummus as a healthy dip for your veggies, you HAVE to try this! It’s really good with cucumber, celery, and/or rice crackers. I also love to put a little bit on a boiled egg as an protein packed afternoon snack!

Even better – this recipe is so simple there is no ingredients list. Just throw it all in your food processor and voila!


Toss 1 pound carrots (cut into 1-inch pieces) and 1/4 sweet onion (or shallot) with olive oil and kosher salt on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees F until tender, 25 minutes; let cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor; add 1/2 cup water,  1.5 TBS white/yellow miso paste, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon each rice vinegar and soy sauce. Puree until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and top with sesame seeds. Serve with rice crackers, sliced cucumber and/or celery.

Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/carrot-miso-dip.html?oc=linkback