I try to refrain from prolific cussing here, but it must be said. Holy fuck, my half marathon is a month from Saturday. Last year during this week I was just saying to myself, “just hang on a few more weeks and you get to taper”. I was exhausted. This half, I barely feel like I’ve been training. Sure, I’ve missed 3 training runs, but that’s not much. I definitely have some tough stuff to go, but beyond the silly injuries, I am overwhelmed at how STRONG I feel.
What’s turning my crank the right way?
1. The FIRST program. Running hard 3 days a week just works for me. It might have done me good the first time to really get some road time in to get used to it, but now this is really helping me train SMART and HARD. During the spring, I loved the nice fa-la-la happy fun scenery runs outside, but now my choice is treadmill or freezypop weather. I want to get it in get it on (all night long – or not, hehe) and get it DONE. My running time is right around 3-4 hours per week and I’ve never felt stronger or faster. I’m so happy I decided to make the jump and try it for my half, I will SO be following this program for my marathon.
2. Body fuel. I’m eating a lot more and cleaner than I used to, though there was definitely a pizza incident Saturday night after my run. Instead of sticking with my sillypants cutting calorie regiment and then binging on buffets and handfuls of chocolate chips when my body is about to break down, I’m eating good food until my body tells me I’m full. For the most part. I am paying a price for it. I’m carrying about 5 more lbs than I was last time. I don’t think I look quite as fit as I did this time in the training (though I could be wrong). But I have knocked off 1-2 mins per mile on my mid-distance runs. That right there is worth it.
3. Pace goals. Even though the treadmill is booooring compared to my happy fun little running route, it does help me learn how to run at one pace/a certain pace. Though I did finally get to to my inaugural run with the garmin (I named it Gypsy) and it is AMAZING to be able to have constant feedback on my pace. But it’s different than being dragged along by a conveyor belt – which is honestly good for me sometimes. Having a pace goal determined by my race goal means I’m training just as hard as I need to be (not too hard or hard enough). Last time I was doing 2 runs per week where I could go as slow as I wanted, 1 tempo run (which honestly, I rarely did a REAL tempo and at max it was 35 minutes – in comparison I have done 4 tempos so far that have been longer and faster), and 1 sprint day (where I didn’t really have a specific pace goal, just *faster* for 400 meters).
4. Working my brain too. Not that I didn’t do this last time, but I am really testing my mettle with some of these paces and lengths. I’m starting to learn what I can really put myself through and still come out smiling and happy after. Last week’s 6 mile tempo was SO HARD. I can’t remember a time where I felt like I ran harder. Maaaaybe the last mile of my half, but honestly, it would be a toss up. I wanted to quit so so so so so so so many times but I kept doing the injury check and it wasn’t there, it was just wah and general discomfort, so I made it non-negotiable. I don’t even know if I was in full control of my legs by the end, but I was of my fingers. So I just upped the speed like I needed to and somehow I didn’t die.
One big realization: I’m not going to remember how I felt during the tough run. I’m convinced that good runners need short memories. I’m not going to remember that the gym smelled like burnt hotdogs and chlorine (I had a few miles to pinpoint the specific aroma). Or that I had the wrong water bottle. Or that I accidentally pulled the emergency stop reaching for my towel and had to restart, and it was long enough my legs got stiff and hurt the rest of the run. Or that I had a major stitch in my side for about the last 4 miles. That special hell is reserved during running times only (thank you, short memory). I’m only going to remember if I did what I set out to do or not. And screw you, problems working against me, I did it anyway.
The rose colored glasses come on later and I remember “Oh, it wasn’t THAT bad, sure I can add 2 miles next week and not drop my pace, I can do anything for 18 minutes, whatevs.” And then I go back into that special hell that’s an 8 mile tempo 20 second faster than race pace, and somehow, I will conquer.
I think last week and this week are the most pivotal runs of the program. For my confidence. Last week’s second 6 mile tempo made me realize that the pace on the first one wasn’t a fluke. If I can do it twice, I can do it anytime I want. Last week’s 10 mile run showed me that I can break into double digits and still keep a wicked pace. This week, I have that scaryscary 8 mile tempo. I’m of the opinion if I can tough it out through that, somehow, I can do anything. Then, I’ve got another double digit (11 miles) to reinforce my confidence that I can keep my pace at long distances.
Honestly, from there it’s all gravy. If I can complete this next week at the required paces, I can honestly feel confident that I can do a sub 2-hour half even if the rest of my training somehow goes to shite. I will even put that out there now, feel free to remind me of that if it happens.
By the numbers:
Monday: 6×400 sprints @ 1:58 pace (with the requisite 1 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down, and 400 recovery in the middle) – check.
Tuesday: DDR circuits – check.
Wednesday: 6 mile tempo (tempted to make up the 8 mile tempo but I think I’ll refrain) – check.
Thursday: DDR circuits – check.
Friday: off – check (yay)!
Saturday: 10 mile run @ 9:40 pace – mostly check. I ended up at a 9:47 pace, but considering my path had a mile long hill I wasn’t expecting, I am so not complaining.
One more week with the goal simply to rock the paces as planned. Here is the plan:
Monday: 4x 1600 sprints @ 8:25 pace (with the requisite 1 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down, and 400 recovery in the middle)
Tuesday: DDR circuits
Wednesday: 8 mile tempo (*eek*)
Thursday: DDR circuits
Saturday: 11 mile run
This is a really tough week, adding another mile to Monday’s run, the epic tempo, and then another double digit run this weekend. I just gotta approach this week with the confident swagger it deserves, stare it in the eyes, grab it by the balls, and tell it how much it doesn’t intimidate me and it better watch out because I’m gonna kick it’s butt. Wish me luck!