A: I would hope most people who are targeting the half marathon are already doing some physical activity, walking or jogging. It’s just a question of building up from there. You build the mileage gradually. It’s always a good idea for runners to keep a log to see their progress.
I think women who can run 10 miles comfortably before the half marathon, or walk and run, can go the distance. But anybody who says, “Oh, I want to do that” shouldn’t just start training willy-nilly. Check in with a health care provider. Make sure you’re healthy enough to start a training program for half marathons.
Q: You suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery just 17 days before the Olympic trials. What are the best ways to avoid injury? Any advice for easing back into training after an injury?
A: The best way to avoid an injury is to monitor your training, to not overtrain, and to use some cross-training methods, whether it be cycling, swimming or skiing. Runners normally have stronger legs, so it’s good to develop more strength in the upper body and arms, which will make you more efficient as a runner.
Q: Most books and training regimens are gender-neutral. Are there differences in the way men and women run? Should women train differently from men?
A: I’ve always trained with a lot of men. Women have issues like periods and menopause, but you just gear your running and training accordingly.
Q: Any advice on buying good running shoes and the correct clothing?
A: I’m a Nike athlete, so I support the brand. But especially for a woman who is starting out, I would tell her to go to a running specialty store and have them really look at her gait and how she moves and look at the structure of her foot to make sure she’s put in the right shoe. Everybody’s foot is different.
As for clothing, wear something that’s comfortable. Some people prefer close-fitting; some prefer a little more room. In winter months, I tend to layer. Where I live in Maine -- as I get warm and remove layers -- I can just leave the clothes on somebody’s mailbox.
Q: Is stretching important? Any advice for post-race recovery?
A: I don’t do a lot of stretching, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t stretch. Do what works for you. I tend to jog into and out of my runs, and if I’m particularly tight I might do some yoga-type stretches.
After a race, take a rest day. You’re not going to go out and test your fitness the next day.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m not training for a specific event now, but I’m looking forward to the Iron Girl Half. I may run the London Marathon the week before the Iron Girl. We’ll see. I actually feel better in my 50s than I did in my 40s.