What it takes to conquer Valley of the Lilies

Western Carolina University’s Campus Recreation and Wellness and School of Health and Sciences hosted the 7th annual Valley of the Lilies half marathon and 5k on April 1.

Wiggins after a successful race at the Valley of the Lilies. Photo provided by Keegan Wiggins.

While 300 of WCU’s students, faculty, and surrounding community members participated, little is said about what exactly runners do to prepare for the event. WCU student Keegan Wiggins ran her first half marathon at the Valley of the Lilies.

“The hardest part of training was the mentality,” said Wiggins.

The 19 year-old not only ran her first half marathon, but she finished third in her age group with a time of two hours and 10 minutes.

Wiggins training isn’t entirely complex. It’s actually formed around making healthy habits and steering clear of fatty foods.

“I would just avoid soda and fast food,” said Wiggins. “I always had at least a salad and some fruit every day and drink tons of water.”

Of course changing her diet was only part of the battle.  Wiggins spent her week days either at the WCU Campus Recreation Center or outside as early as 6 a.m. to exercise.

Find out more about how Keegan trained for the half marathon here.

The training was a two-month process for Wiggins, but there are several resources for training.  Runners World has a first-timers half marathon training that lasts 10 weeks with 9-24 miles a week, all the way to advanced half marathon training lasting 14 weeks with 30-50 miles a week of running.  The training plans range from 5ks to full marathons, from beginner to advanced level.

“I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon, but I wasn’t particularly picky about where are which one,” said Wiggins.  Running the half marathon was actually apart of her honors contract in her health class.

If you are picky about where you want to run, Active is also a great resource for all things running, cycling, and triathlons.  Active uses your location to find fitness events near you with all necessary information to get you signed up for an event.