Ever since my first half marathon in 2014, each one has felt harder than the last. My times have gotten slower, each race seems less fun than the last, and I find myself wondering each time if I really ever want to do it again…and then this happens:
There’s something about the feeling of finishing a race. And not just any race – Color Runs need not apply here – but a challenging race. One that takes time to prepare for. One that costs $70 😉 One that you have to make sacrifices for. Sorry, I can’t get sh*tfaced tonight, I have to run 10 miles tomorrow.
Time and time again, I’ve also expressed my penchant for setting goals and plans and keeping myself accountable on this blog. I’ve made food budgets, I’ve made training plans, I’ve declared (and regularly checked in on) New Years resolutions. I’m not great at keeping up with…well, anything, it seems 😉 without having a plan to stay aligned with. I perform well when I have a goal to work toward.
So…after struggling through a hot May half marathon (I had to stop to walk several times, which I never do because I know how hard it is for myself to start running again) that took me 8 whole minutes longer than my PR, I’ve decided I want to give it another shot. This is no surprise to anyone who has read my (sparse) blog posts over the past few months, as I listed running goals for September and October and ran several 10ks in November with the eventual goal of running a Half Marathon this March.
Last week, after running 8.2 miles on my long run, I decided I was officially far enough into my training that I should have no doubts about whether I’d be ready in time, and I registered for a second go at the Shamrock’n Half Marathon. Plus, who would put themselves through an 8.2 mile run if their eventual goal wasn’t to run a Half Marathon? If anyone reading this runs 8+ miles for fun, you are officially a resident of Crazy Town. (full disclosure, I myself was right there next to you at this time 2 years ago 😉 )
Shamrock’n was the first Half Marathon I ever ran, and I’ve never been able to beat that first time: 1:57:37! There are a lot of things I like about this race, but the biggest plus to doing Shamrock’n again is that the course follows the trail where I’ve done my long runs for over 2 years now. I know every inch of it, so there are no surprises. I am not at all confident that I will get close to, or beat, my PR, but I’m hoping to at least get under 2 hours.
In looking back at my old training plans, I’m actually really surprised at how different each one has been. (Warning: Running nerd alert)
Shamrock’n Half, Part 1: I was single, apparently had no life outside of running, and was extremely diligent about training. I ran an easy 3 miles every Tuesday, ‘lifted weights’ AKA did abs and a couple of bicep curls in my apartment on Wednesdays, ran 4-5 miles each Thursday, and never skipped a weekend long run.
Nike Womens Half: I’m surprised I finished close to 2 hours based on how little I trained! 3 months before the race, Russell and I started dating and a lot of my weekends became occupied with being newly in a relationship I only ran once during the week each week, but supplemented it with Ultimate Frisbee (a really great cardio workout) and long bike rides, since I was also training for a 30 mile ride at the time.
Parkway Half: My training plan had all the components of a successful race, but I think the Sacramento heat won out in the end. I ran twice a week, usually around 4 miles, lifted weights twice a week, and didn’t skip any long runs. But I’ve learned I am a terrible warm weather runner, and this race was proof!
All of that being said, the plan I devised for myself a few weeks ago most closely resembles the Parkway Half plan:
- 2 runs during the week
- 2 gym trips during the week (which have definitely evolved from my “elliptical and abs” days)
- a long run each Saturday or Sunday
- and 2 rest days per week (typically the days before and after my long runs)
The good news is, I’m already ahead of schedule! (see green numbers above) I didn’t look at my training plan for a week or so and when I went out to run on Sunday, I felt like 9 miles was an achievable distance. I didn’t even realize I was a week ahead of schedule 😉
The bad news is I am really slacking on weekday runs. Most of them are 2.5-3.3 miles, when I should probably be running at least 4 at least once a week. My bed is just too comfy and my bedtimes too late!
That being said, my goals for the next couple of weeks are to
- Keep on track (obvi ) and
- Make a conscious effort to get to sleep earlier during the week so that I’m rested enough to wake up on time and get more than 3 miles in.
Wish me luck! You can expect a training update in a month or so…and hopefully some posts in between now and then!
Do you prefer to stick to a plan, or go with the flow?
What was the key to success for the PR you are proudest of?