Training for a Half Marathon

Last year, I ran my first ever 1/2 Marathon and trained with the Sportsbackers Novice Training Team. I managed to get a time of ~2 hours and 18 minutes, which is about a 10:35ish pace on average.  Knowing that I have always been a sloooow runner, I felt like this time was very reasonable for 13.1 miles.

That said, a few things didn’t go as smoothly:

  • I came down with a cold a few days leading up to the race and didn’t feel 100%
  • The novice team had very few long runs in the double digits and my body wasn’t prepared. I started breaking down around mile 10 – my legs hurt terribly
  • I had no nutrition strategy – I carried gummy bears with me but hardly ate them b/c they were so cold. Bonking was a definite a factor as well

Now, let’s proceed to 2014!

Coming off of a great Tri season, I knew I needed to focus on my run. My biking had improved considerably – to where I was very competitive with others. My swim was decent enough, but my run speed was definitely NOT competitive. I was able to place in my age group in 2 local sprints, but if I was competing in a larger event, there’s just no way I would place. Most average 23-24 minutes on the 5K. I was averaging 29-30 minutes – eek!

After my last sprint of the year (the Pink Power), I decided to focus 100% on running.

  • I sacrificed bike and swim practice to get in extra, quality runs during the week.
  • I decided to train with the Intermediate Sportsbackers training team, so i could get more volume in during the week. One of my good friends decided to sign up as well, which helped tremendously! I went to every early morning long run b/c I didn’t want to leave her hanging. She also pushed my pace. If I ran on my own, I likely would’ve run a 10:15-10:30 pace. We were averaging 9:35-9:50 paces – even on the longer runs!
  • I attended track practice every week (work allowing) and attempted to run the intervals faster than my set speed
  • I focused on eating better
  • I made an effort to strength train
  • I foam rolled and stretched
  • I bought a Garmin Food Pod, so I could keep track of my running cadence and try to increase it
  • I kept detailed logs of each run: my pace/the weather/how I felt/etc.

In the process, I also created a new habit with the Sunday long runs. I was SO refreshing to have X amount of miles done before 9AM! I could relax at home, drink coffee, catch up on my personal emails and watch football. It felt fantastic.

My initial goal upon signing was to break 2 hours and 15 minutes. My stretch goal was to break 2 hours and 10 minutes. However, over the course of the season, I started to think the 2 hours and 10 minutes “stretch” goal was very realistic. In fact, I set a new stretch goal: 2 hours and 5 minutes.

About two to three weeks before the half, I started to feel incredibly strong. It was really easy to run. I wasn’t worried about whether I would make it, but more so about how fast I could go. I actually started to enjoy running.

I am proud to say that I completed the Richmond Half Marathon with a time of 2 hours 6 minutes and 27 seconds. I was SO close to my stretch goal – the one I never thought I could achieve. Around mile 9, a pesky side cramp (that I had throughout the race) turned into a debilitating one to where I could barely walk. I took a gel, tried to breathe deeply and stretch it out and ~ a minute later took off running again. If I hadn’t had that cramp, I very well could have reached my goal.

I actually feel like a runner now. PROGRESS!!!!! 🙂