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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!