Guest Blog: Tips for Training for the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Jennifer S. is a passionate runner and 2020 #IndyMini Ambassador. She shared some of her best tips for successfully training for the big 13.1, check them out below!

You have signed up for your first half marathon and it’s the #IndyMini! Now what to do next to prepare and where to start can be overwhelming both physically and emotionally. I hope you find this article helpful and remember that you are not alone, for every half marathoner was once a first timer.

#1 – Building Mileage

  • How to get to the 13.1… While there are many ways to build mileage, the most important key is to remember that it’s a gradual process. You should build upon with your runs or you risk injury or worse.  The hardest part can be focusing on building your stamina before pace or you can run out of gas before you are finished.  When first starting, if you are running at a pace where you can hold a conversation, then you are doing it right.  For those that wear a heart monitor, your target zone should be between 65-75% of your maximum pulse rate.
  • Have a training plan… The 500 Festival has one and so do all of the local running stores in Indy, along with local run clubs such as Indy Runners and Athletic Annex.  This will help and guide your runs from getting to 3 miles all the way to 13.1.  Pick a course that you are familiar with. When I first started, I used a course that was similar to my route to local parks and areas I frequented near my home. I eventually ran with a friend and in bad weather would run on the treadmill at my gym.
  • Scheduling…. No one knows your daily schedule and life demands better than you, so it is possible that you may need to adjust it to fit your life.  For example, I save my long runs for Sundays or Mondays because I run my races on Saturdays. It is when I am most energized, but also have the most time before my kids sports and work week ramp up.  If I do a long run one day, I will rest the next day or cross train.
  • Rest… I will admit for myself this is the hardest part of training. I want to go, go, go and this led me to develop double anterior stress fractures in the past.  This fracture is a runner’s worst nightmare, with one of the highest re-injury rates around. The biggest mistake usually occurs when you feel good, you’re are up on miles and you keep going longer and harder.  Rest days also help strengthen your body, sharpen your focus, and reinvigorate your spirit so that you actually want to keep training. It also allows for muscle repair and recovery, so that as you rip and tear muscles they have time to rebuild.

#2 – Cross- Training

  • Strength Training… Even runners lift weights.  Your structural fitness and health are just as important as your cardiovascular.  One of the most common reasons runners become injured is that they focus solely on cardiovascular.  Workouts that focus, for example, on building strong glutes and core are vital to runner faster and longer and so lower body workouts are essential.  Our fitness partner, Planet Fitness, is ready and willing to assist you with this as well as the Indy Mini Ambassadors Blog on Facebook.
  • Other forms of exercise… Using the bike, elliptical and even walking can also be great forms of exercise without putting stress and strain on your body on off days. Remember these days should be easy days.

#3 Emotional Health

  • Remember that your emotional health is just as important as your physical.  Give yourself the grace to know that not every run or workout will be great, some will be amazing and some will be defeating or even frustrating and that is ok. Connect with the social media groups or even run friends to support you.  Remember to enjoy the journey because after you finish and that beautiful medal is around your neck, you will officially be a half marathoner and all of the hard work will be so worth it. Life is all about cherishing moments.

My Mini Story: 100 Days Until Susan’s 100th Indiana Half

To celebrate 100 days until the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, we’re highlighting the story of one of our participants. For Susan, the 2020 Indy Mini will be her 100th Indiana half marathon!

Susan Skelton is an #IndyMini Ambassador Alumna and completed her first Indy Mini in 1997. Since then, she has accomplished more than a hundred half marathons, including 35 different races across Indiana. She’ll reach 100 Indiana half marathons completed on May 2, 2020.

“One of the greatest gifts that participating in half marathons has given me is the friendships I’ve made along the way. I’ve met so many incredible people and they all have their own amazing story. I hope that I’ve been able to encourage others to step outside their comfort zone and try something they may have thought was impossible. It doesn’t matter your age, your size, your gender, if you have the will you can complete a half marathon. I especially love meeting a first time half marathoner and cheering them along the way. One of my favorite quotes is from John Bingham which is ‘The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.'”

Susan is a member of the Half Fanatics Club (#2965) on Earth Level (the 6th level out of 9), the 50 States Half Marathon club (she’s completed 28 states so far), and the 100 Half Marathons Club (completed her 100th in September 2016). She’s also a member of the Speedway Running Club and the Wabash Valley Road Runners Club.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my wonderful husband, John who continues to believe in me and this crazy journey I’m on.”

“I truly believe that half marathons (and other distances) are keeping healthy and happy. And as an added bonus, you get to collect a bunch of beautiful medals as well.”

OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Safety & Race Etiquette

Thank you for joining us for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and we appreciate your attention as we go through some safety tips to ensure you and the other participants have the most enjoyable race experience.

When registering for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, be sure to indicate if you plan to walk or run and select the correct estimated finish time. You can view the pace chart on or website if you’re unsure what your estimated finish time will be. This is your anticipated pace for the entire help marathon. If you plan to walk and run, you’ll need to adjust to your average pace doing that.

The day of the race, be sure to arrive early to find parking and get to your assigned corral. When lining up, be sure to join your assigned corral that you received in your confirmation email sent out in April. If your anticipated finish time is slower than what you put on your registration, or you would like to join someone, you may move BACK in the corrals. No participant may move forward in the corrals. Walkers are placed in Waves 4 or 5 to avoid congestion and potential collision with runners. But don’t worry, the back of the pack is always a party with the same start line experience!

Get excited you’re about to start the Indy Mini, America’s Best Half Marathon!

During the race, slower participants should keep to the right to allow faster traffic to move past. The Indy Mini is better with friends and family, but be sure to walk or run no more than two abreast to avoid causing a traffic congestion.

If you need to stop or slow down while on the course, look over your shoulder and move to the right. Signal that you will be stopping. Do not stop in the middle of the field.

Be sure to refuel at our pit stations! There are 16 pit stations along the course providing water and/or Gatorade Endurance Formula. Remember to throw your cup away in the trash cans provided, and not on our wonderful pit station volunteers!

Smile for the finish line camera as you complete your race! Once you finish, you will receive your medal and make your way through runner’s services to pick up water and snacks to refuel after completing the Indy Mini. Only take one of each snack to ensure that all participants can have the same post-race recovery experience. Keep moving along the line to avoid congestion. Once you move through, you will not be able to return out of safety percautions so triple check you have everything! From there, the fun continues at the Post-Race Party. Reunite with friends and family, grab more food and drinks, and dance to celebrate your major accomplishment. Congratulations, you completed the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon!

Thank you for your attention. It takes all of us to ensure a fun and safe event. We know you have a lot of options when choosing races so thank you for choosing the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Guest Blog: Training for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Christina G. is an avid runner and a 2020 #IndyMini Ambassador. Check out her training tips, from picking the right plan for you to fueling through your race.

You’ve registered for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, or your contemplating doing so, and  you want to know, “Where do I start?” The half marathon is a friendly distance and running  13.1 miles is possible for most runners .   The right training plan, along with proper nutrition will make it an achievable challenge, even with a busy lifestyle.   Whether this is your first half marathon, or you’re planning to crush your PR, these tips will get you to the Indy Mini finish line. 

A good training plan that caters to your schedule and fitness level is key.   You should not choose the first training plan you found on the internet.  Just like shoes, there are no “one size fits all” training plans.   There are few questions you should ask yourself when choosing the right training plan.  How many miles am I currently running? You don’t want a program that starts with more miles than you are currently running.  It may increase your risk of injury.  What is the total weekly mileage of this training schedule? This can vary widely.  How many weeks until the Indy Mini?

Training plans can vary widely from 10 to 16 weeks.  If this is your first half marathon, a plan longer than 10 weeks is strongly recommended.  You need to consider your goals, the amount of time you have to commit to training, and your current fitness level to choose a plan that will work for you.  A successful half marathon training plan will have you consistently running enough mileage during the week to get your body acclimated to running for long periods of time by increasing mileage.  Most plans will scale back your long runs every three weeks after a peak mileage week to rest and avoid injury.  You should notice that your training plan scales back on mileage a couple of weeks before the Indy Mini.  This is what’s known as the taper.  You’ll decrease the mileage and intensity of your runs so that your legs will feel  fresh and rested. 

Strength training is essential to a runner because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can help to improve race times and decrease your chance for injury.  Complete one to three cross-training workouts per week.  Choose primarily strength training based workouts that are mostly low-impact and that you enjoy.   You can swim, do yoga, bike, or even attend a group fitness class.  Try focusing on your running weaknesses, such as moves that focus on the core, hips, glutes, hamstrings, and ankles.   Either way, make sure you have strength and flexibility training, but don’t continue to do any workouts that may leave you so sore that you have to skip running.

Good nutrition is extremely important while training for the Indy Mini and should be a part of your on-going training.   In fact, without the right nutrient intake, performance can be adversely affected.  Low energy levels and dehydration can occur when not properly fueled.  You should consider taking fuel with you for any exercise or running lasting over an hour. 

Learn what foods work best for you.  This will come from trial-and-error and this process of elimination should have you ready for race day.  Two to four hours before starting your long training run, consume easily digested complex carbohydrates and protein.  Oatmeal, fruit, and milk or a bagel with peanut butter are good examples.  Commercial gels and sport beans usually contain carbohydrates and may include caffeine, electrolytes and/or vitamins.  Commercial sports bars, usually a source of protein, contain larger portions of carbohydrates.  Real food options include pretzels or peanut butter and jelly on soft bread. Whatever you choose to fuel your runs, plan to hydrate at the same time.   

Hydration is crucial to successful training.  Two hours prior to training, hydrate with at least 16 ounces of water, then during , hydrate with 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes.  Sports drinks provide fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes.  Dilute them to half water or less until you know what  you can tolerate. There are many options available.

Indy Mini training takes valuable time and effort.  Let’s not waste it by wearing a brand new sports bra that chafes at mile 6 or socks that give you a blister at mile three.  Choosing the right running gear can be just as important as our training and nutrition.  A technical, moisture-wicking shirt is a must have.  Tech fabrics will keep you dry and warm in cold weather and wick the sweat away and help prevent chafing on hot weather runs.  A good pair of lightweight running shorts or tights that do not restrict stride and keep you cool are important.  Women should ensure that they are wearing a good, supportive sports bra designed for running and high-impact activity. It should fit properly and not be stretched out.  Wear running-specific socks that are a synthetic blend to help prevent blisters.   Running belts can keep your hands free on the run.  This can hold id, money, keys, and even water bottles. 

Running shoes are probably one of the most important pieces of running gear.   Never run in old or worn-out running shoes.  Over time, they lose shock absorption, cushioning, and stability.  The stress and impact on your legs and joints caused by running in worn-out shoes can cause overuse injuries.   Find a reputable running store to get fitted for proper running shoes.  Running shoes serve a purpose, so always remember style and favorite color come second.  Your feet will swell while running, so keep this in mind for sizing to help avoid black toenails and blisters. 

Running is an all-weather sport.   Keep in mind, no one can promise you perfect race day weather.  It may not be ideal training conditions, but you should really consider getting out there to run on those days that non-runners can avoid.  Rain, cold, and heat are all possibilities for the Indy Mini forecast.  Be prepared for all of them.  It will make your race day more enjoyable if you know what to expect and how to dress properly. 

Training is not just about how many miles you can run.  Half marathon training should be a comprehensive plan that involves your scheduled runs, cross-training, nutrition, hydration, and gear.  Race day is not the time to experiment with a new energy gel that you got at the expo the night before or the day to to wear your shiny new running shoes.  Your training season is the time to experiment, not on race day.  Trust your training, and NEVER try anything new on race day. 

Meet Lynn Buikema – 2020 #IndyMini Ambassador

Name: Lynn Buikema

Hometown: Norton Shores, MI

Year of first #IndyMini: 2013

Fun fact about yourself: Next to running, in no particular order, laughing and singing are my favorite!

Favorite place to run: At the beach about a mile from my house. The sound of the water makes me forget I’m working hard or being healthy and just makes me happy. I also love running on a treadmill in front of Gameday, Sportscenter or a good football game.

Advice for first-timers: Smile and take in the course entertainment. The smiling relaxes your face and shoulders and the entertainment relaxes the rest of you!

2020 Challenge Shirt and Medals

All three of the shirts are short sleeved, technical shirts with gender-specific fits. For each challenge, you must be registered for the actual challenge to receive the shirt and medal for that challenge, not just each event separately. Email if you’d like to upgrade your registration to a Challenge. The last day to register for the 500 Festival Greatest Spectacle and the Mini Maniac challenges and the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, is Feb. 2. Register here.

The Greatest Spectacle Challenge

Participants of The Greatest Spectacle Challenge will tackle all five of the 500 Festival running events during the spring season, including the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy (February, March & April), the 500 Festival 5K (May 2), and the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (May 2). Challenge participants will receive a commemorative shirt and medal as well as shirts and medals for the Miler Series, 5K, and Mini-Marathon! A total of FOUR medals and shirts!

Mega Mini Challenge

Mega Mini Challenge participants will conquer both the 500 Festival 5K and OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on race morning (May 2). Participants who register for the challenge will receive a commemorative shirt and medal as well as shirts and medals for the Mini-Marathon and 5K!

Mini-Maniac Challenge

Mini Maniac Challenge participants will take on all 32.1 miles of the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, in February, March, and April, and the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 2. Mini Maniac participants will receive a commemorative shirt and medal in addition to the shirts and medals for the Miler Series and Mini-Marathon – a total of three medals!

2020 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy

There’s no better time to reveal the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, shirt and medal than Medal Monday!

The 2020 Podium Finisher medal is outlined with a circle of bricks, a staple of tradition in Indianapolis, which is etched in the bricks. Inside the bricks are three rings sized to reflect the three (blue), six (red), and ten mile (white) events. The name Podium Finisher is etched in the ten-mile ring, which is when participants’ hard work will be rewarded with this medal around their neck at the finish line! An antique nickel circle  includes 500 Festival Miler Series written in white, red, and blue enamel. An IndyCar is racing through the yard of bricks with “presented by OrthoIndy” and the 500 Festival logo etched on the hood. The IndyCar leaves behind a trail of red, white, and blue confetti.

This year’s shirt is a long-sleeved crewneck made of black technical material. The front design is aligned to the left. The event name is written in large letters with blue and red racing stripes going down through it. The stripes have a vintage grunge overlay, matching the theme of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K shirts. The back design matches that of the medal: three rings sized to reflect the three (blue), six (red), and ten mile (white) events. In the center of the rings is Indianapolis, IN, the location of the Miler Series. Beneath that are our partner logos: OrthoIndy, the Pavilion at Pan Am, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and Clif. Right beneath the collar is the event logo.

The only way to earn this awesome shirt and medal is to be registered for the entire 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy (in-person or virtual)! Hurry, the deadline to register is February 2, 2020. Visit to register now! Can’t make it in-person? There’s a virtual option that still lets you earn this awesome swag!

2020 Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K Shirt and Medal

Your hard work will result in some awesome and unique hardware in 2020! Check out the 2020 Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K participant shirt and finisher medal, and make them yours on May 2.

Participant Shirt

The front of the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K participant shirt features the official event name largely displayed in the top left corner. Bricks, resembling the famed Brickyard, encircle an IndyCar helmet design from 1945, the year the Hulman-George family purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Uniting the entirety of the design is the state of Indiana in a bright white outline.  Giving the shirt a retro sports tee look is the wording, “Three Point One,” the mileage distance of a 5K, which is written at the bottom of the design in a vintage, athletic font. A grunge layer over the whole shirt design contributes to this unique retro look.

The back of the shirt has the event logo at the top in white. Beneath that in Indy Mini green is the date of the race displayed as 05 02 20. Found below the date in white is, “Indianapolis, Indiana” to commemorate the location of the event and the logos of our great sponsors.

Finisher Medal

This year’s finisher medal for the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K is an antique nickel, square design featuring a laser-etched image of downtown Indianapolis looking from the west on the canal walk. To draw the eye toward the navy and bright green “2020” and “Indianapolis, IN” enamel wording, a portion of the left and bottom of the design has a pattern constructed to add texture and unique depth to the design. Across the top of the medal is “Delta Dental 500 Festival” written in a raised etching with “5K” written beneath it. “5K” is in a larger font with a bright green outline and navy enamel filling to truly showcase the event. The Indianapolis flag filled with navy, white and bright green enamel is located at the bottom right of the medal as an additional nod to the city in which the race takes place. Cut into all of the elements of the medal is the outline of the state of Indiana. It’s a subtle design piece to recognize the greatest state in racing! Flip the medal over and you will find the 500 Festival and Delta Dental logos. There’s also room to have your finish time engraved at the Post Race Party. Holding up your hard earned medal is the iconic checkered flag ribbon with the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K logo on it.

Register now for the 2020 Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K before prices increase at 12:01 am ET on January 9! Visit indymini/register to sign up for the 5K, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon or one of the Challenges.

Guest Blog: Running With Family

Jason Ronna is a 2020 #IndyMini Ambassador.

Running with your family creates an atmosphere of healthy living that can be passed on from generation to generation.  If your family is anything like mine, you all have different ways of running and run at different paces.  That means you do not always train the same way.  We like to run the same races together and cheer each other on.  It is also a good bonding tool.  Running races is one of the few ways you can compete at the same level as your kids without competing against them.  In our family, everyone runs their own race and you only compete against yourself.  

We ran the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon as a family for the 1st time last year.  My wife Wendy and I ran the half marathon in the rain, while our daughter Rylee ran the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5k.  On May 2, 2020, the Ronna Family will all be running the Indy Mini together.  If you plan on running the race as a family take plenty of pictures and post them to one of our Facebook pages or groups.  Take advantage of all the activities the Mini Weekend has to offer.  Make a Family Day of the Expo at Lucas Oil Stadium and take part in all the family oriented activities.  It will be an experience your family will treasure for a lifetime and will become an annual event to look forward to every year.