My official race photo. I think it was around mile 11 or 12. I really was pretty much by myself for the last three miles of the race. Thumbs up yo.
After about a week and a half, I am feeling back to my normal self after the half-marathon. I ran five miles last night with my running buddy and the miles flew by. Thank goodness. In reading a lot of running blogs I think I underestimated the impact the half-marathon would have on my body, as a lot of girls make it seem like just another day (heck, it probably is for them). For me, it was a straight up endurance EVENT that tested my limits and required a week of solid rest. It just goes to show that you CANNOT compare yourself to other runners. Say you are just starting out and ran a mile without stopping. If your body is not used to running, it is going to take a LOT out of you. When I ran my first 5k last year, I was SPENT. My legs hurt and I was relegated to the couch afterwards. Now that I’ve increased my endurance the miles don’t have the same effect, but that is because my body is more conditioned. Don’t go out there expecting to rock out five miles and feel guilty if you can’t if you are just getting started. Challenge your body and your endurance.
I must admit, I was a bit surprised by how tired and sore I was after the half. I have been reading quite a few blogs with girls training for marathons and they talk about their 15/18/20 mile run as just another training run. Well let me tell you, 13.1 miles was HARD and punishing. Amazing, but still punishing. Perhaps I’ll reach that point where they become just another race, but for now, I am happy with where I am at. I guess this was my long-winded way of saying that you cannot compare yourself to ANYONE else. 😀
Thoughts on My Training Plan
I created my training plan following Hal Hidgon’s Novice Half-Marathon training plan. His training plan calls for twelve weeks; I basically started from week four since I was coming off of the Boilermaker 15k and had a decent base to start with. I started training on July 26 and trained for eight weeks. I ran three times a week, with a long run on the weekends and “short”/medium runs during the week. My form of cross-training was hot yoga and I loved it. It is the perfect complement to a running routine in my opinion!
Mileage wise, I ran 176.75 miles over the eight weeks, including the half-marathon. My highest mileage month was September at 82.2 miles, and my highest mileage week was 21.05 in mid-September. My longest training run was 11 miles, and I also ran two ten milers. Did I feel prepared come race day? Absolutely! Would I follow this training plan again? Heck yes! I felt like I was training for something but was still able to maintain some semblance of a social life, which I’ll get into shortly.
Essentially, good ol’ Hal’s plan worked perfectly for me. I missed a few short runs here and there (it happens!) and I still felt confident on race day.
Fuelage/Weight During Half-Marathon Training
During half training, my mileage picked up significantly which, in turn, led to increased hunger (duh). When you are training for an endurance event, you need to fuel your body to function (I’m looking at you, Melissa! 😉 ) Towards the end of training, I wanted carbs, carbs and more carbs. Moreso than usual, since I always want carbs. 😀 I weighed myself once towards the end of training and I think I gained 2-3 pounds. My clothes still fit the same and I lost an inch on my stomach so I’m thinking it was just water weight. Which brings me to my next point. Hydrating is essential during training. At the height of training I was drinking at least 100 ounces of water a day, and even more on my hot yoga days. I have a hard time imagining someone that doesn’t drink a lot of water- I would seriously shrivel up from thirst!
Fueling during runs– For any run over seven miles, I would fuel with a gu packet. My fuel of choice is without a doubt chocolate mint gu. Yum. I used to fuel with clif shot blocks but after receiving a free gu sample I never went back. The shot blocks were wicked chewy and kind of awkward. The only caveat with using gu is that you should probably take it with water to wash it down. Very necessary. During my 10 and 11 milers I fueled with a pack and a half to two packs of gu, and I felt great. I know some may have stomach issues with gu, so make sure to test it out! I love it!
Time Commitment/Having a Life During Training
Although training for a half requires a bit of dedication and time, it is still definitely possible to maintain a balanced life. I traveled to Long Island for a reunion with my college besties, went to a week-long conference in Lake Placid, traveled to Buffalo for a wedding and was IN a wedding (and had too good of a damn good time) and still fit everything in. Granted, I had to make a few adjustments here and there but my life was NOT all running. I’m not sure I could say the same if I were training for a full, though 😉
When training for a half-marathon, you will become reacquainted with nature. I saw one fox (awesome! but creepy), numerous bunnies and chippies chipmunks, ingested two gnats (barf) and fished two gnats from my eye that were behind my contact (sneaky little suckers!).
I was fairly lucky during this training cycle. My biggest issue was pain on the top of my foot (I think tendonitis from overuse) and random blisters here and there. Plus the loss of one toenail (with another one currently purple and on its way out). Hot yoga and an intense love affair with the foam roller kept my IT Band and knees very happy. Overall, I would deem this training cycle injury-free 🙂
Weeks Leading Up to the Race
In the two weeks before the race, I decided to forgo alcohol and heels. Of course, that all went out the door a week before the race when I attended a very fun wedding. I had about 3-4 glasses of wine so it wasn’t too crazy but I still felt guilty. It ended up working out fine. I need to be easier on myself! I am glad that I stuck to the no heels rule and will be implementing that rule before my next big race as well.
So, those are my thoughts on training for my first half-marathon. Have you trained for a distance event? Do you have anything to add? I’m excited to take a small(ish) break from distance running. A break will rejuvenate me- I’m already excited to start training for my next half in the spring!
Have a good one folks!