Training for a Half Marathon

Jeff hiking with his family

For a legitimate training plan to run a half marathon you should check out this Runner’s World site which has a range of regimes based on your age, abilities, and intentions. 

For an illegitimate training plan, read on, I have some other ideas.

With running or hiking, I appreciate the chance to turn off the mind, sweat a little, and take in the outdoors.  With these factors in the balance, there are two workouts that I favor.

Running the Northern Rail Trail

What I love about the Rail Trail: it is flat… it is beautiful…it has no traffic whatsoever.  There are rail trails all over New England and locally we have one that runs from Lebanon along the Mascoma River and Mascoma Lake and well into central NH.  You can find out more about the Rail Trail HERE  (you have to create an account, which is fast and free, and the wealth of information about rail trails across the region is well worth it).

Hiking New Hampshire’s 4,000 ft. Mountains

Hiking can be tough but the views, connection to nature, sense of accomplishment, and lock-step merit badge accumulation tip the scales in favor of heading out.  Like the Rail Trail, the degree of workout is completely in your hands – walk slow and smell the roses or jog the flats and scamper the steeps, either way is going to get you the view (and have you feeling it on the stairs the next day).  There are 48 peaks in NH that are over 4,000 feet, each with their own flavor, so something for everyone and a standing lifelong challenge to get to the top of each of them.  See more HERE.

— Jeff Hastings, Co-founder of CHaD HERO

CHaD HERO Pedestrian Safety Tips

During the CHaD HERO, everyone is a pedestrian! Whether walking, running, or hiking at some point you’ll probably be sharing a road with drivers who may not be paying attention or driving unsafely.  Our motto here at CHaD is “See, Be Seen” and we want you to be a safe and happy HERO!  Here are a few tips to help with that:

  • Wear clothing that is bright with reflective highlights, even in daylight.
  • Use sidewalks whenever possible.
  • If there aren’t sidewalks then walk as far to the side of the road as possible facing oncoming traffic.
  • Use crosswalks if available, even if it means walking a little farther.
  • Distracted walking can be as dangerous as distracted driving.  Put the cell phone away. Think about the walk, not the talk!
  • Watch for cars coming out of driveways and be especially careful in parking lots.
  • Supervise children and hold hands with young ones.

Injuries can spoil your walk/run/hike so take some time to plan out your route to avoid potential fall hazards like uneven surfaces.  Wear sunscreen or protective clothing if it’s sunny. Using a brimmed hat and sunglasses can not only protect your eyes they can help with solar glare that can block your vision. 

Make sure that your shoes are broken in but not broken down.

If you’re prone to blisters in a certain spot consider using an anti-chafing balm ahead of time. Waterproof bandaids or a product like KT tape can be effective for blister prevention as well. 

Make sure someone knows where you are going and a time you expect to be back.  If walking in a group, have someone with a blinking light in the front and in the back.  The person in the back can also be the “sweep” to make sure no one falls behind.

Water and healthy snacks make the walk easier.  For little ones, this will be an adventure but consider a bailout plan in case they lose enthusiasm or the weather takes a nasty turn.  You can always be a HERO another day!

Whatever you do have fun and know that every dollar you raise is helping kids throughout NH and VT.

— Jim Esdon, Program Coordinator at CHaD Injury Prevention Center

HERO Safety Blog Post Series sponsored by

6 Tips for Your First 5k

1) Use the Right Plan

A lot of people start strong with all the best intentions of running consistently, but fall short after a week or two. To avoid this, find a beginner 5k plan that works for you (Check out our Beginner Running Plan at for an example). With the right plan, you will avoid over training or increasing your mileage too much too fast, which are leading causes of running injuries.

Following a plan will keep you consistent and accountable so you will be able to conquer the letdown that happens after a few weeks of starting something new. However, consistency doesn’t mean beating yourself up when life gets in the way. Modify the plan as needed to keep yourself from burning out, even if it means repeating a week.

2)  The right shoes are important

Do I need good running shoes? What makes a good running shoe? What happens if I don’t get a good running shoe? These are all great questions. There are so many factors that go in to getting a good running shoe.

Thankfully running specialty stores are here to show you what running shoes are appropriate for you personally. Stop by your local Runner’s Alley and get The Right Fit™ to stay healthy and happy during your running journey. Our staff will help you find the right shoes and all the other gear you might need, including socks and apparel.

3) Warming Up

Take a few minutes to warm up your muscles using a dynamic warm-up. Before you take a step, you want to make sure to prepare your muscles and ligaments to run, open up your joints, and get your heart rate going. From leg swings for your hips and hamstrings, to arm circles to promote good posture, you’ll be ready to go.

4) Keeping the Pace

One of the most challenging questions is “How fast should I run?” When training for your first 5k, it is important to keep yourself moving at a rate where you can keep a conversation. By keeping it conversational, you will keep your heart rate down and allow yourself to run longer. Don’t forget, you are adding time and distance, not speed.

It might be a good way to run with a buddy. Of course, please practice social distancing if your buddy isn’t a member of your household. A running partner will help you keep your mind off of the stresses on your body, keep your pace consistent, and give you accountability!

5) Don’t Forget to Recover

As you finish your run, walk for a few minutes to help your heart rate decrease and cool you down. Then, make sure to stretch and recover after your run. Here is where static stretching can help. By stretching warm muscles for 30-60 seconds, you will improve flexibility. You should feel tension in a stretch, but not pain. If you feel pain in your stretch, back off until you feel tension.

Another great way to help recover from your run and keep you injury free is foam rolling and other tissue manipulation. Foam rolling will break down knots in your muscles and helps improve circulation, making it a great companion with stretching. For some great options, check out

Don’t stop at your muscles!  Rehydrating and adding protein to help rebuild your muscles within 20-30 minutes after your run is important too.

6) Run your Race

Once race day comes, it’s time to shine! You’ve spent weeks preparing for this, so don’t do anything different than you have been doing. If you are at a live race, give yourself extra time to warm up, use the restroom, and be ready to go when your number is called. If you are running at home, know your route beforehand and run at the same time you normally would. Have fun and remember it’s all for a good cause!

— Team at Runner’s Alley

Meet Kid HERO Abigail!

Abigail working with clay on a pottery wheel

Abigail, 2020 Kid HERO Crew member

When we found out we were having a girl we were all so excited. I wanted a girl. And everything was going well until the end of my pregnancy. I had gotten into this bizarre car accident where a tree fell down around my car while I was driving home from work with no real damage. I felt fine and the ambulance came and Abigail was kicking so I went home. Abigail soon started to slow down and I had heard that that sort of happens towards the end when babies run out of space, but Abigail really slowed down a lot. We were sent to APD for a scan – steady heartbeat but the ultrasound tech could not get Abigail to budge so I was admitted to Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital (APD). They put a bunch of monitors on me and gave me a sleeping pill and at four or five o’clock in the morning I was woken up and told that I needed to have an emergency C-section.

James, my husband, was told to say goodbye and brought to another room. Abigail was delivered and resuscitated. They said she suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and she was DHARTed via ambulance to CHaD. I came to right before they whisked her off to to CHaD’s Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) and I got to hold her hand through the box that she was in. Abigail was connected pretty much to everything they could put on her; she was intubated. She had heart monitors and all sorts of things attached to her.

Abigail in CHaD’s NICU

Fortunately I was able to recover from my C-section at Dartmouth-Hitchcock as well. Once I got settled into my room, a team of about a dozen doctors (I think most of them were students) came in and talked to us about Abigail. They said she had a lot of damage to her brain and they doodled on these sketch pads that had a picture of a brain on them to kind of scribble the parts that had damage to her brain and told us what we should be expecting if Abigail were to survive. I remember the Doctor who first started telling us this was wiping tears away himself as he told us what had happened to Abigail.

She had failure in every organ and was on every form of life support that the hospital has to offer. We made sure Abigail had run through the complete three days of cooling and stayed by her side as much as we could. I remember a photographer came and offered free baby photos for a new family photo shoot for us in the NICU. Abigail was still very connected to all the wires at the time and it was a hard for us not to cry in those pictures.

Abigail with her parents in NICU

Abigail and her parents in the NICU

We had a daytime nurse, Keileigh, and a nighttime nurse, Sterling, volunteer to become Abigail’s nurses. They were only in charge of Abigail while they were there and James and I became good friends with both of those ladies and still keep in touch with them. 

Abigail started to improve. She slowly came off life support and though we were still warned to expect a lot of disability, we were so thrilled with her progress. We took Abigail home from the hospital two weeks after she was born and although she made so much progress from her birthday, she was classified as failure to thrive, so we had a visiting nurse come to our apartment in Hanover at least once a week. Abigail had visiting therapists as early as I can remember. Pushing her along her milestones and honestly as a brand new mom it was helpful to have a little guidance.

I became a very busy secretary after Abigail was born. She had a date book full of appointments going back to see all sorts of specialists at CHAD with multiple appointments every week. And I always felt like I was bringing a celebrity to the doctors. Everyone who had known her from the ICN would come by and check on her regardless of who we were scheduled to see. It was very clear that everyone was very invested in Abigail and her progress.

Not long after Abigail got her first hearing aid we moved to Florida. There, Abigail was put into speech therapy. Abigail soon after had a sedated Auditory Brainstem Reponse (ABR) test and ended up with two hearing aids this time. While in Florida we had a baby boy named Danny who is Abigail’s best friend, annoying little brother, and constant companion. 

Abigail hugging her brother, Danny, outside in a field

Abigail and her brother, Danny

We continued to see an audiologist in Florida until we were able to move back home to New Hampshire. Moving back home we were so excited to be able to bring Abigail back to CHaD so she could get to see all her healthcare providers that have taken such good care of her before we moved away.

Abigail is a very bright, imaginative and caring. She adores all of her doctors, and for quite some time really wanted to be a pediatric audiologist. Abigail loves reading comic book novels, singing pop songs and dancing. She loves telling jokes and learning about nature. Abigail has her struggles with fine and gross motor skills and comprehension and executive functioning but she is a champion and a fighter. And so kind. And I am so proud of her every day. 

— Abigail’s mom, Georgia

Abigail with her family

The CHaD HERO 15-day event has begun! It’s not too late to register and create a team. You can virtually participate now until Sunday, October 18! Learn more and register at