7 Lessons I’ve Learned from Training for a Time Goal

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

This winter/spring my focus was to train to run a half marathon PR. The PR didn’t happen (yet) because of a weird fluke but I have another half coming up next weekend. I’ve never really trained hard for a half (besides the first one I ever ran) but my main reason for training with a time goal in mind was to help capitalize on some of the speed I’ve been developing. I figured, if I try to train for a maybe-just-out-of-reach time goal, it will force me to get faster.

Well, I have definitely been getting faster but it hasn’t been easy – and it shouldn’t. I’ve learned a lot so far and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more but I thought I would share a few of my lessons here.

  1. It’s important to take easy days easy. Doing 2-3 speed workouts a week means you NEED the easy days for recovery, so don’t push the pace- it’s a recipe for injury and exhaustion.
  2. Do the pre-hab. Foam roll. Stretch after running. Hydrate. Compress. Ice (if needed). Doing these seemingly menial tasks will add up in the end.
  3. Don’t ignore the little aches and pains. I’ve had a few minor injuries during this training cycle and instead of being stubborn and “sticking to the plan” I’ve backed off and traded easy days for recovery rides or workouts for an easy run.
  4. Be flexible. This is so, so, so important. I am a type A runner (and person) and like to follow a plan to the T. But you know what? Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you get those little aches and pains. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. But that’s OKAY. Be flexible and don’t fret about a missed run here and there.
  5. Strength train. This is something many of us runners forget. It also can be controversial since there’s one camp that believes strength training can hurt your running performance and another camp that thinks strength training can prevent you from getting hurt. I’m in the pro-strength training camp because I think stronger muscles, and varying your exercises, can make you a more dynamic athlete overall. Plus, we all love to have vanity abs, am I right?
  6. Mix it up and run with a group. I’ve been going on group runs with my local running store a lot more during this training cycle than I have in the past and I’ve been loving it. Running with different people helps to keep training interesting and it’s awesome to have the support of others.
  7. BUT, don’t be afraid to run alone. I’ve made the mistake this training cycle of sometimes running with speedier runners on days that were supposed to be easy and I get stuck in that medium-hard pace. Running alone sometimes helps me keep my pace in check.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Let me know!

6 Tips for Running Through Humidity

HumidRunI went for an easy 5-mile run yesterday morning before work. I woke up at 6 a.m. threw on my running clothes I laid out the night before. Put my hair in a bun. Threw on my Nuun visor and headed out the door.

My apartment felt cool but with the first step out the door I was smacked in the face by a wall of damp moisture. Well, good morning to you too, humidity.

Humidity and I are not friends and we haven’t been for a long time. Before I was a runner, I hated humidity because it caused my hair to have a mind of its own and become curly beyond belief. Now that I’m a runner, well, every humid run feels like I’m breathing under water. Not to mention my allergies are also terrible this time of year, so there’s that.

Any runner will tell you there’s nothing you can do about the weather, that’s why we’re out there in the dead of winter running through snowstorms and getting our sweat on in the summer under the hot sun. We put up with the weather because we don’t really have any other option. (The treadmill is NOT an option- for me, at least.)

So, yesterday, as I turned the corner onto my street to end my 5-miler I thought, how the hell can I deal with this for the rest of the summer and not completely fail on all of my runs? Luckily I know some pretty weather-savvy runners and was able to get some tips. Here are the best ones:

  1. Slow down, speedy! – Just like you slow your pace in the winter when it’s snowing or icy out, slowing down in the summer when it’s extremely hot will help you finish your run strong. Remember how much faster you were in the spring after a winter of slow running? Same thing will happen in the fall. So, pull in the reins and be OK with taking it slow.
  2. Hydrate (and drink tons of Nuun!) – Hydration is key to running in the humidity. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, not only before and after your run but throughout the entire day. You can hydrate with water but also try to add in a sports drink or electrolyte-enhanced water (like Nuun) because since you’ll be sweating a ton, you need to replace the sodium in your body to absorb water.
  3. Run early or later – I personally prefer to run before work as opposed to after but by getting out the door in the morning or evening, you’re avoiding the warmest part of the day. I love going on lunch runs but on really hot days, feeling overheated just isn’t worth it to me. So, on those days, I’ll opt to go run before work.
  4. Do not wear cotton, I repeat, do not wear cotton – Humidity and heat make you sweat so try to wear moisture wicking clothes on your run to avoid chafing and overheating. I go by the as-little-clothes-as-possible-without-being-naked rule on hot runs so I have a lot of spandex and sports bras in the near future.
  5. Wear a visor or cap – I don’t know if this will really help but it seems to keep a little heat off of my head. I wear a visor on most of my runs to protect my skin and keep the sun out of my eyes but it can help to keep my face cool. One person even suggested soaking a run cap in cold water before heading out the door to lower body temps.
  6. Don’t worry! – I know I was upset looking at my splits from this morning’s 5-miler. I was slow and it felt hard. But I know I shouldn’t worry about it because with every change in seasons there’s a period of adjustment (unless you live in a season-less place like California, which, if so, I am envious). The body is an amazing thing and it will adjust and adapt to the change in temps. So don’t fret over lost fitness, the fitness is still there, it just needs to make some changes.

This is just a rough list and I’m still learning so please, please give me your suggestions! Have any tips for running in the humidity? Leave them in the comments section below or tweet at me at @FitHappyGirl.