I love destination races, I've run races in San Diego, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. We are running the Disney Star Wars Dark Side half marathon in Florida this April. People always ask me why I am not running my local race in Fort Worth. That would be much too convenient and inexpensive, I joke.
I am the queen of signing up for half marathons and then not properly training for them (which makes for a miserable race day experience). I know, I know. I am a running coach. I know better. But as I always say, it is not what we know, it is what we do. Knowledge means nothing without action. I was determined to properly train for this one. Pinky swear.
I decided to sign up for the Cowtown half marathon last December because I felt ready to tackle the training for another half marathon and finally run the big race in my own city. I was dealing with a shoulder issue for most of 2017 that prohibited me from running long distances, but as my shoulder improved I was itching to start long run training again. I haven't ran a half marathon since 2016! It was time to put an end to that. The Cowtown half marathon is on February 25th.
I started training in December after I signed up and did a couple of longer runs, but fell off the long run wagon when the weather went south. I know, excuses. I didn't get serious about my long runs until January. That still gave me about eight weeks to train and with the solid running base I already had, I knew it would be enough time.
I also have been strength training with Optimal Force Fitness on Mondays and Fridays and doing my own runner-specific strength training in the ShredShed. Strength training for runners is so important for performance and for injury prevention.
My motto for my training long runs is Beastie Boy inspired, "Slow and Low that is the Tempo." I literally repeat it in my head like an mantra. It helps me slow my pace while I build endurance. I know I have a tendency to go out too fast (especially if I am feeling great) then puttering out at the end.
Hubby is not running this race with me, but he usually comes along for the first half of my long training runs. He is a great pacer, he reminds me to slow it down. I told him I need his voice on a recorder for the first half of Cowtown on repeat: "slow down, slow down, slow down." After the first half, I can go as fast as I want.
Honestly, If I had more time I would train a little more for speed, but eight weeks is not enough time to train for both speed and endurance. For injury prevention you should never increase intensity and volume in the same week, which means you have to choose week by week if you are going to train to run faster or farther. With the limited time, I had to choose to train for distance so I would have the endurance to finish at all.
My half marathon PR was back in 2012 and it was just under two hours. I want to prove to myself that my running glory days are not behind me and I am still capable of running a sub two hour half marathon, but it's not going to happen this time. In order to run a half in less than two hours you need to maintain a 9:10 pace over 13 miles and my long training runs have been around 9:30. I can probably expect to pick up a several seconds a mile with race day excitement, but it's just not realistic to expect that race day pace will be 20 seconds faster than training pace. We'll see.
Just a lesson to myself to not cut the training cycle short like I did by not following through with training in December.
THE RUN STREAK
Hubby and I started the run streak on Thanksgiving Day 2017 with Runner's World. The idea is to run at least one mile a day every single day. Some days you run more than one, then on rest days you just run one mile. When January rolled around and the official run streak ended, hubby wanted to keep going. I was a little worried it would be too much for my (old lady) body, but I've been doing great. At the time of this post we've been streaking for 89 days! I think it has enhanced my half marathon training, rather than inhibit it. I run most of the rest day one milers slow as to give my body the recovery it needs. If I am feeling tired, I run several one mile days in a row. The key to a successful run streak is to listen to your body.
Fueling for a half marathon is as important in training as it is on race day. If you feed your body high quality carbohydrates, proteins and fats you will see the best performances. I try to live by the 80/20 rule. It's just an estimate, but the idea is to eat healthy nourishing foods 80% of the time and allow 20% of your calorie intake for treats and indulgences. This helps me stay in balance (something I struggle with, the all-or-nothing).
Every Sunday we have waffles as our weekly treat. No, they are not high protein, low carb, flourless healthy waffles, they are the good ol' toaster waffles with berries and syrup. I noticed when I would eat my indulgent toaster waffles the morning before a long run that I would run really well. It's probably the boost in carbohydrates or maybe it's just mental, but after a few weeks of waffles = good run, I decided that the race day strategy will be to get up early and eat waffles before I go. I am already excited (about the waffles).
Of course Ollie doesn't like any of this nonsense because the training runs are too long for his aging bones and he can't even enjoy race day!
Stay tuned, I have some exciting things coming soon. I have an amazing guest post that you're just going to love with an adorable furry face and in the first week of March I am going to Houston for a one day Blog Elevated conference. I'll be hanging out with @runoutthebox so go follow her over on Instagram.
Wish me luck and cool weather!
Does your running partner have four legs?
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