After mentioning on a few occasions that I am training for a half marathon on the 14th April, I thought it might be appropriate (5 weeks and 2 days out!) to touch on what I have been doing in the lead up to that.
As we know, I have been running on and off for 4 to 5 years now. The 'off' periods have largely been due to injuries, ranging from mild to more problematic, as well as a certain lack of confidence that I could actually be a runner. Up until 5 years ago, I strongly believed that I would never be able to run more than a few kilometers at a stretch. This was in spite of being moderately fit in other regards, and able to do other forms of exercise for extended periods of time. I just didn't think running was for me.
It may go without saying that believing you can't do something is a fairly sure-fire way to ensure you can't do it.
I have now got over my running mis-beliefs, allowing me to fall head-over-heels in love with the activity. Despite this, I have approached my half marathon goal with a certain amount of trepidation and a lot of planning. I have been building up my mileage very, very slowly. I have read lots of running articles and blogs, a fair few books, and even invested in Matt Frazier's No Meat Athlete half marathon roadmap. Matt is a vegetarian runner and his half marathon guide (which is an e-booklet you purchase online) covers training plans, diet, and general points relating to running in general and the half marathon in particular.
I adapted Matt's training guide to give me 3 running sessions (vs. his 4) and 3 cross-training sessions (vs. his 1-2) each week. My runs incorporate a Saturday morning long run, which has gradually increased from 10km in January to 16km last weekend; a Tuesday morning 5km moderate pace run; and a Thursday morning session of intervals, either hills or speed or both.
The above spreadsheet is small for a reason. Please don't try and base your own activity on what I've been doing - I am not an expert on training plans! I am including it simply to show the degree of planning that has gone along with this goal. All being well, my longest run prior to the race will be 18km a week from now.
The reason this post is happening today is that I have recently been able to move my Thursday morning interval run to a "running club" group setting. The running club in question has operated through my gym for several years, but used to happen in the evenings and had an added cost (albeit very small). Happily, it has recently been re-branded as a "group fitness class", which means it is free, and one of the two sessions is now on a Thursday morning instead of in the evening. That Thursday morning session happens to be intervals (the other, Tuesday evening session, is a 5-7km temp run). Thus, it is almost perfectly designed for me.
|This is what comes to mind when I think about running.|
I went to my first session two weeks ago with a fair amount of anxiety. Would it be too hard? Would everyone else be really good? Would I feel foolish? Would I want to stop half way through? You can probably guess how I was answering those questions in my mind.
Yet again, my thoughts and doubts were my own worst enemy. I loved the session. It was hard, but in a good way. There seems to be a lot of variation in the ability and speed of the runners who attend the sessions, with some being absolute beginners and others super-fast athletes who are way ahead of the rest of us. I am probably in the top third with regard to speed, which surprised me, and there are two girls who run at about my pace, or a tad faster, which gives me something to set my speed on when running in a group.
In the first session, we did a 2.4km time trial and then alternated 400m laps of an oval with sets of lower body and upper body exercises (think squats, push ups, planks). In the second session, which was yesterday, we did 1km repeats, running 1km (2.5 laps of the 400m oval), walking or slow jogging 400m to recover, and then doing it again to give 5 repeats (5km) in total. Everyone runs at their own pace, so you can push yourself as hard (or not) as you like.
I usually run my long runs at 10-10.5 km/hr (6.2-6.5 miles/hr), which equates to 5.4 - 6 minutes per kilometer (9.1 - 9.4 minutes per mile). My shorter runs are a bit faster, but not dramatically so. With the 1km repeats yesterday, my fastest loop took 4 minutes and 45 seconds, a speed of 12.6 km/hr (7.8 miles/hr). I would have said that was impossible for me if I hadn't done it.
I am only two sessions in to my running club participation, and still 5 weeks off knowing whether my half marathon plans will come to fruition, but at this point in time - I already feel so rewarded from the last few months and every part of me is hoping and longing to keep it up and reach those 21.1km in April.
Do you run or train in a group? Or have any half marathon advice for me?
Or, do you have any experience where your own doubts have been your biggest challenge?
I apologise sincerely for the back-and-forth shifting and promise I'll leave things be with Blogger for now. I also apologise if you encounter spam as a result of that.