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!

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St. Luke’s Half Marathon Training: Week Seven

great_thingsAnother solid week of training in the books! Overall, I felt pretty good this week. The mystery calf/achilles pain I had been having subsided by Thursday and I haven’t had it since (knock on wood!). Also, I ran some really fast 800m repeats which is always a good confidence booster!

Monday, March 31 – 40:00 of IronStrength

3×15 plyometric squats with 3×10 plank twists
3×10 weighted rows from plank, Russian twists with kettlebells, and pushups
3×10 plyometric lunges with 5x front, side, back hamstring reach
3×10 mountain climbers and 3×10 legs down
3×5 high pulls, bicep curls, and overhead press
3x 0:45 planks- front, both sides
Ring of Fire squats/lunges (10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1)

Tuesday, April 1 – 5 miles, easy

It was absolutely gorgeous out today on my lunch run! It was also a really great run with some awesome coworkers. We kept it at what felt like an easy pace but I think we were all just so happy it was nice out that we picked it up a bit.

Plan: 5 miles, easy
Actual: 5.25 miles in 45(ish) minutes (no watch!)

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 57 degrees (real feel of 70!) and sunny

Wednesday, April 2 – 6 mile recovery ride

It felt good out there today- a little bit colder than yesterday and drizzly. I had a minor mishap about 2.8 miles in when my calf cramped up on a hill. I stopped and stretched it out and it felt a little better then. I also didn’t really time this run with GPS but made note of how long I was out there.

Plan: 6 miles, easy

Actual: 6.02 miles in 52:00 (8:32/mile)

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 44 degrees, overcast, light rain

Thursday, April 3 – 8 miles with 6x800m repeats

Another surprising workout happened today. I ran 6x800m repeats and felt really good. They were all between 3:30-3:40 which is what I was aiming for. I find it’s better to give yourself a range to hit instead of a very specific time.

Run 1: 6.25 miles (Ran 5 miles in 39 minutes!)
1-mile warmup (8:50/mile)
3 miles of 6×800 (with 400m recovery jog in between)- 7:25, 7:12, 7:10
1-mile cool down (8:40/mile)

Run 2: 1.75 miles (to round out the 8 miles for the day)

Shoes: Fastwitch

Friday, April 4 – Yoga

Saturday, April 5 – 5 miles, easy

I really, really didn’t want to go on this run. The windy was super gusty and strong and my couch was so much more comfortable but I’m so glad I did. I was supposed to run 5 miles easy but I actually felt pretty good and it turned into a progression run.

Plan: 5 miles, easy (9:12/mile)
Actual: 5 miles at 8:26/mile avg
Splits: 8:56, 8:33, 8:32, 8:23, 7:49

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 50 degrees with sun and wind

Sunday, April 6 – 13 miles, LSD

My run went pretty well today. It was warmer than I expected but the warmth felt amazing. I decided to run on one of the rail trails we have since it’s been covered all winter and it felt really good to run on some flat, soft ground. There were also TONS of people out walking, running, and biking. I got pretty dehydrated though in the final miles of the run and had very little energy left at the end.

Plan: 13 miles, easy
Actual: 13 miles in 1:58:00 at 9:04/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 60 degrees and sunny

Weekly Mileage Total: 38 miles

See all training recaps here.

 

St. Luke’s Half Marathon Training: Week Six

rainy_runWell, spring definitely arrived last week and brought the rain with it! I had some speedy runs (and some really soggy runs) last week. Overall it was a really solid training week but I’m getting a little concerned about what I think is a bit of tendonitis in my achilles/calf. I’m continuing to ice/compress/stretch in hopes it gets better!

Monday, March 24 – Rest

I decided to take Monday off completely (no XT or anything) to rest after the 5K I ran the day before… also, I had errands to run.

Tuesday, March 25 – 7 miles with 3 miles at HMP

I really surprised myself on this run, like REALLY surprised myself. I haven’t been feeling too great on a lot of my runs lately, mostly because of the weather and my runny nose. But for some reason I felt great on this run! The plan was to run 7 miles with 3 miles at half marathon pace. I’ve gone back and forth about what my HMP should be and adjusted my goal to run a sub-1:50 half in April instead of sub-1:45 but after this run I may have to reconsider again!

Plan: 7 miles with 3 miles at HMP (8:23/mile for sub-1:50 half)
Actual: 7 miles with 3 miles at 7:30/mile (what?!)
Splits:
2-mile warmup- 9:09/mile, 8:35/mile
3-miles at HMP- 7:35, 7:28, 7:24
2-mile cool down- 8:57, 8:40

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 34 degrees, overcast, light snow
Fuel: Nuun energy 30 minutes before the run

Wednesday, March 26 – 6 mile recovery ride

My left calf muscle was feeling very tight after my Tuesday workout so I decided to switch out a 6-mile recovery run for a 6-mile easy spin- same thing, right? Not really but oh well.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6-mile spin, easy

Ab Workout- 20:00

2 x 0:45 plank
2 x 0:30 side plank, both sides
2 x 0:45 supine plank
2 x 0:45 bicycles
2 x 10 leg raises

Thursday, March 27 – 8 miles with 4×1-mile repeats

I majorly shocked myself on this run. The last time I did mile repeats it didn’t go so well. I felt like death and was on the verge of throwing up almost the entire time. Not today. Today I channeled my inner Shalane Flanagan and busted out some solid repeats (Ok, she would have run them MUCH faster).

Plan: 6 miles with 4×1-mile at 7:17/mile
Actual: 6 miles in 46:18
Splits:
1-mile warmup: 9:04
4×1-mile repeats (with 800m recovery in between): 7:26, 7:01, 7:04, 7:14
1-mile cool down: 8:24

Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6
Conditions: 34 degrees, slight wind, overcast

I had to run 8 miles today so I split it up and finished my mileage after work on the dreadmill with some solid postrun foam rolling.

Plan: 2 miles, easy

Friday, March 28 – Strength Training – 45 minutes

Arms- 3×10
Rotating overhead press with 10lb dumbbells
Rows with 15lb dumbbells
Tricep pulls with 15lb dumbbells
21’s with 8lb dumbbells

Legs-
3×10
Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell squats
Clam shells

Abs- 2x
0:45 plank
0:30 side plank
0:45 supine plank
0:45 bicycles
10 Russian twists with kettlebell

Saturday, March 29 – 6 miles, easy

Just ran an easy shakeout run before my long run tomorrow. I was trying to beat the rain and it was drizzling a little but not too bad.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 52:24 at 8:44/mile
(1) 8:55 (2) 8:44 (3) 8:48 (4) 9:06 (5) 8:52 (6) 7:58

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 48 degrees, rainy and wind

Sunday, March 30 – 11 miles, LSD

I was not super motivated to get out the door for this long run because of the weather. For most of my run the rain wasn’t too bad but during the last two miles the skies opened up and it absolutely downpoured. My shoes were so soaked through it felt like I was running through water. I ended up cutting it short because the torrential downpours and wind were just too much, and honestly if I kept going, the small blister that was forming on my foot would have been much, much worse.

Plan: 13 miles, easy
Actual: 11.25 miles in 1:40 (8:53/mile)

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: Rain to heavy rain, wind

Weekly Mileage Total: 38 miles

See all training recaps here.

 

St. Luke’s Half Marathon Training: Week Three

Hilly Long Run on Sunday

Hilly Long Run on Sunday

Monday, March 3 – IronStrength

– 3×15 jump squats and 3×10 rotary planks (on each arm)
– 3 sets rows from plank (x10), pushups (x10), situps with weights (x10)
– 3 sets plyometric lunges (x10), alternating sides of hamstring reach (x5 front, side, and rear) in between
– 3 sets mountain climbers (x10), legs down (x10)
– 4 sets of deadlift high pulls (x5), biceps curls on single leg (x5), overhead press on other leg (x5)
– planks (60 secs; side, down, side) x2
– Ring of Fire squats/lunges (10, 8, 6, 4, 2)

Tuesday, March 4 – 6 miles, easy

I went for an easy run during lunch thinking it might be a little warmer running midday but it was still a brisk 18 degrees out. I think I might still be battling a little cold because my run was mostly a mucus-filled mess. Oh well!

Plan: 6 miles, easy (9:18/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 52:40 at 8:46/mile
Splits:
(1) 8:59 (2) 8:33 (3) 8:47 (4) 8:53 (5) 8:41 (6) 8:46

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 18 degrees, kinda (barely) sunny

Wednesday, March 5 – 6 miles, easy

I had to split my run up today because when I went out during lunch I wasn’t feel too great. I had to do 6 miles easy so I ended up doing 4 miles at lunch and 2 miles after work on the treadmill.

Plan: 6 miles, easy (9:18/mile)
Actual:
-Run 1: 4.1 miles at 8:41/mile – (1) 8:33 (2) 8:45 (3) 8:44 (4) 8:44
-Run 2: 2 miles on the treadmill – (1) 9:13 (2) 8:41

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 32 degrees, overcast (lunch run)

Thursday, March 6 – 60 minutes, Vinyasa Yoga

I had a long day at work and opted out of my post-work 800 repeats and opted in for an hour long yoga class with Adam. It was totally the right decision.

Friday, March 7 – 6 miles with 6×800

This was a pretty tough workout but it felt really good to stride it out for some repeats. I did it on the treadmill which wasn’t the best since the gym was really warm but it helped me maintain the paces. Instead of shooting for a specific time I decided to give myself a range between 7:35-7:47/mile which I was able to maintain.

Plan: 6 miles with 6×800 repeats with 400 recovery in between
Actual: 6 miles with 6×800 (paces between 7:35-7:47/mile) and 400 recovery

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: Indoors, treadmill

Saturday, March 8 – 5 miles, easy

Today I ran with the local running store’s group run. It was really nice out which felt great but my legs were noticeably tired from yesterdays repeats.

Plan: 5 miles, easy (9:18/mile)

Actual: 5 miles in 43:00 at 8:48/mile

Sunday, March 9 – 11 miles, LSD

I’m not sure what my paces were for the last part of this hilly long run but they were probably on the slower side. I always forget how hilly this route is but I guess it doesn’t hurt to challenge myself a little more. I felt pretty good, although I still had difficulty breathing through my nose due to a cold/runny nose. The sun felt incredible!

Plan: 11 miles, long slow distance (9:18/mile)
Actual: 11 miles, no idea what my pace was but I think the total time was around 1:42 so I almost hit my long run pace dead on!

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 37 degrees, sunny, but felt like I was running into a headwind almost the entire time.

Weekly Mileage Total: 34 miles

See all training recaps here.

St. Luke’s Half Marathon Training: Week Two

(source: Pinterest)

(source: Pinterest)

Last week was a really solid one for training and I am very happy to report I ran all FIVE days on my schedule and every run was pretty much 100 percent pain-free. I think my foot is finally really healing up. It’s definitely been a bit difficult to get back into the swing of things training-wise. I need to remember to fuel up properly (i.e. eat enough) and to get enough sleep. I also need to get used to doing more speed workouts. I had two workouts during week two of training and I don’t think (at least from what I can recall) I’ve ever done that before. It’s tough!

Monday, February 24 – IronStrength

– 3×15 jump squats and 3×10 rotary planks (on each arm)
– 3 sets rows from plank (x10), pushups (x10), situps with weights (x10)
– 3 sets plyometric lunges (x10), alternating sides of hamstring reach (x5 front, side, and rear) in between
– 3 sets mountain climbers (x10), legs down (x10)
– 4 sets of deadlift high pulls (x5), biceps curls on single leg (x5), overhead press on other leg (x5)
– planks (60 secs; side, down, side) x2
– Ring of Fire squats/lunges (10, 8, 6, 4, 2)

Tuesday, February 25 – 5.2 miles, easy

I ran with the group run out of my local running store tonight. My plan originally called for 6 miles with 4 miles at HMP (8:00/mile) but I was feeling really tired and run down all day today so I decided to switch it with my easy run day that was supposed to be Wednesday. It was also really cold out and my breathing was all messed up because I felt like I was sucking in frozen air the whole time. Not the best run.

Plan: 6 miles with 4 miles at HMP
Actual: Swapped with Wednesday’s 5 miles, easy

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 26 degrees, real feel 20, wind

Wednesday, February 26 – 6 miles with 4 miles at HMP (8:00/mile)

This was my second real workout of my sub-1:45 program and to be quite honest it was a little tough. The plan called for 6 miles with 4 miles at half marathon pace and I think it mostly felt tough because I ran on the treadmill. It was pretty stuffy at my gym and I just felt like I was struggling. But I got the workout done and I guess that’s what matters.

Plan: 6 miles with 4 miles at HMP (8:00/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 50 minute (8:20/mile)
Splits:
1-mile warmup at 9:00/mile
HMP: (1) 8:13/mile (2) 8:06/mile (3) 8:00/mile (4) 7:57/mile
1-mile cooldown at 9:00/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: Treadmill, warm inside

Thursday, February 27 – 7 miles with 3×1-mile at 7:21/mile

This was my first ever attempt at running mile repeats and let me tell you, they are NOT easy. My coworker Megan helped to pace me for them which really helped. I knew my goal split of 7:21/mile was a little aggressive for me right now so in my head I was really shooting for anything under 8:00/mile which is my goal race pace.

Plan: 7 miles with 3×1-mile repeats and 800-m recovery in between
Actual:
1-mile warmup at 8:50/mile
Repeats:
(1) 7:16/mile – went out way too hard on this first one
(2) 7:50/mile
(3) 7:50/mile
800-m recovery jog in between each repeat
1.5-mile cool down

I noticed my pace really fluctuated during each mile. I would settle in to the appropriate pace at the beginning and during the second quarter start to slow, really slow the third quarter, and then sprint for the last 400m. I’ll have to really focus on maintaining an even pace the next time I try, even if it means going a bit slower.

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 27 degrees, feels like 18 degrees, wind gusts up to 35mph

Friday, February 28 – REST

Saturday, March 1 – 5 miles, easy

My plan called for an easy 5-mile shakeout before tomorrow’s long run. I felt pretty good but it was dreadfully cold. It’s March, where’s Spring?

Plan: 5 miles, easy (9:18/mile)
Actual: 5 miles in 44:00 at 8:48/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 13 degrees with wind

Sunday, March 2 – 10 miles, LSD

I was really not looking forward to this run when I got up because it was so overcast and gloomy outside. I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped out my front door and realized it really wasn’t that cold out. I felt pretty good during this run but I’ve been battling a pesky cold lately so I could have felt better. My paces were all over the place though because I took a pretty hilly route for a little extra challenge, but felt good enough to go for a fast finish at the end.

Plan: 10 miles, LSD at 9:18/mile
Actual: 10 miles in 1:31:21 at 9:08/mile
Splits:
(1) 9:34 (2) 9:08 (3) 9:04 (4) 9:10 (5) 9:27 (6) 9:10 (7) 8:56 (8) 9:36 (9) 8:53 (10) 8:24

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 32 degrees, overcast

Weekly Mileage Total: 33 miles

See all training recaps here.

St. Luke’s Half Marathon Training: Week One

Mirage3I don’t usually say this, but I felt blessed this week. Blessed to have begun training for my goal of running a sub-1:45 half marathon. Blessed to feel like my foot is finally starting to heel. Blessed to have had some extremely beautiful weather this past weekend after the horrible winter we’ve been having. And most importantly, blessed to have a boyfriend who’s willing to go to yoga class with me (I swear, it was his idea!). Seriously though, week one went better than I could have expected. My foot is heeling up (knock on wood) and I was able to get in at least one of my workouts. This week I hope to run all five running days and be able to finish my workouts without any foot pain.

Monday, February 17 – IronStrength for 40 minutes

– 3×15 jump squats and 3×10 rotary planks (on each arm)
– 3 sets rows from plank (x10), pushups (x10), situps with weights (x10)
– 3 sets plyometric lunges (x10), alternating sides of hamstring reach (x5 front, side, and rear) in between
– 3 sets mountain climbers (x10), legs down (x10)
– 4 sets of deadlift high pulls (x5), biceps curls on single leg (x5), overhead press on other leg (x5)
– planks (60 secs; side, down, side) x2
– Ring of Fire squats/lunges (10, 8, 6, 4, 2)

Tuesday, February 18- 5.2 miles with 3 miles up-tempo

This was my first official run of training for the St. Luke’s Half Marathon in April. I’m trying to break 1:45 so my race pace will be roughly 8:00/mile. Since I’ve been having some foot issues, I decided to (mostly) forgo my first workout of training which was a HMP run. Instead I opted for 5 miles with 3 up-tempo miles, so not race pace, not tempo, just a little quicker than easy. Foot felt pretty good for most of the run.

Plan: 5 miles with 3 miles at half marathon pace (8:00/mile)
Actual: 5 miles with 3 miles up-tempo (8:32/mile)
– 1-mile warmup @ 9:13/mile
– 3 miles @ 8:32/mile
– 1 mile cool down @ 9:13/mile

Conditions: Indoors on the treadmill at the Energy Center; warm
Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3 (second run in them)

Wednesday, February 19- 10-mile easy spin

Today my training plan had me on tap to run 5 miles, easy, but since my foot is still not 100 percent, I figured I’d opt out of the run and do some riding instead. Foot felt great and I got my heart rate up, which is really the point of easy mileage (and recovery!).

Plan: 5 miles, easy
Actual: 10-mile easy spin

Conditions: Indoors at the EC

Thursday, February 20- Yoga, 60 minutes

Went to my first yoga class at my new gym with my boyfriend (it was his first class ever!). The class was really gentle but it felt good to dedicate some time to stretching out.

Friday, February 21- 5 miles with 3 miles at HMP (8:00/mile)

This was my first workout of the half training and it felt pretty good but still hard (which it should). I ran it on the treadmill because I wanted to make sure I maintained the right pace for the HMP miles.

Plan: 5 miles with 3 miles at half marathon pace (8:00/mile)
Actual: 5.08 miles in 43:40 with 3 miles at 8:00/mile
– Warm-up for 1-mile at 9:13/mile
– 3 miles at 8:00/mile
– Cool down at 9:00/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: indoors, hot

Saturday, February 22- 5 miles, easy

Went on an easy run with the local running store. Foot was feeling a little achy this morning but I was able to get the run done.

Plan: 5 miles, easy
Actual: 5.3 miles (Garmin didn’t acquire in time but was running around 8:30s)

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: BEAUTIFUL! Sunny, mid-30s but felt even warmer

Sunday, February 23- 8 miles, long slow distance

First long run of this training cycle, and my first long run in a very long time (like a month), went really well! At first I didn’t feel so good and my foot was bothering me a bit but once I got into my groove I felt great.

Plan: 8 miles, easy (9:18/mile)
Actual: 8.01 miles in 1:10:45 (8:52/mile)
Splits: (1) 9:27 (2) 8:59 (3) 8:56 (4) 8:52 (5) 9:00 (6) 8:50 (7) 8:42 (8) 8:22

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: around 35 degrees with some wind

Week one mileage total: 34 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.

The Season of the Half

Sub 1-45I have a goal, that is part of operation get speedy, to break 1:45 in the half marathon this spring.

Before running the Disney half marathon two weeks ago, I had only run three half marathons before. I had never raced a half, or really trained for a half. They either happened when I was in the middle of training for something else, or I just decided to register for one on a whim, which is why my previous PR was 2:02:22 and I was able to knock 10 minutes off that PR (with relatively no training) two weeks ago at Disney to run a 1:52:55.

Now I know 10-minute PRs don’t just happen all the time. I’m anticipating the inevitable plateau that all runners face, but right now I’m going to go with this momentum. I know to break 1:45 I’ll have to drop another 7 minutes off my time, which is a little more than 30 seconds off my average pace. It’s not going to be easy but man, am I looking forward to working on my speed.

This week I ran my first half marathon pace workout. I did a 1-mile warmup at 8:49/mile pace and then dropped it down to what will be my goal half marathon pace, 8:00/mile, for three miles, and then did a 1-mile cool down. Now, I know I only ran at HMP for three miles, but it felt, dare I say, comfortable.

I have a plan in place. I have my break-1:45 training plan designed by one of my coworkers at Runner’s World and I have my race schedule lined up. My goal race will be the St. Luke’s Half Marathon on April 27. This race is only a mile away from my boyfriend’s apartment and boasts of a fast course. I also plan to run a tune-up 10-miler at some point in March (race is still TBD but I have options).

If St. Luke’s doesn’t go as planned I’m registered for NYRR’s Brooklyn Half on May 17. I’ll have to crash at a friend’s place the night before the race but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this race and it will be my first NYRR event, so it’s got to be good.

I’ll also be running the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in Newton, MA on June 8. This most likely won’t be a good race for a PR just because of the hilly course but who knows?

So if I PR-ed at Disney on no training, and follow my plan for the spring season, I’m looking forward to seeing what these legs can do when fully trained.

Sub-1:45 or bust!