Last year, I ran my first Half Marathon and when I first signed up, I didn’t really know how to train for a half marathon. I did a lot of research online, perused Pinterest for quick programs and read half of the Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training! I think my biggest takeaway after talking to people who frequently run half marathons and through my research, was to pace myself. Steady pace finishes the race!
When I trained last time around, I didn’t really know how to pace myself. I had never used a heart rate monitor and just ran in whatever pace I felt comfortable with in the moment. I usually ended up with a faster pace in the beginning and then slowing down as the run progressed. Continue reading →
If someone had told me a few years ago that I would run a half marathon, I would have just laughed! I honestly never though that was something I would be able to do, but on July 27th, 2014 I did! I ran my first half marathon, 13.1 miles or 22 kilometers!
When I was a kid, I was very active and participated in almost any sport genre you can think of. My days were usually spent climbing high and low on my way home from school and straight into playing soccer or some kind of hide and seek game with the neighborhood kids. I have always been a tall drink of water but, when I was eleven my body grew to fast for its own good and I ended up having major back surgery. Even though I am very grateful that this happened early on, it was a scary thing at only eleven years old. I could not do any sports or bend my back for six months. After my recovery, I was as good as new and should have been able to do the same things as any other eleven year old, but I was scared. Worried that I would do something to break it back up, I became a lot more careful and didn’t do the same activities as before. Throughout my teens and early 20’s I was perfectly happy not doing any kind of exercise. It wasn’t until 2011 when I was a little heavier set, I realized that maybe it would be a good idea to keep my body in shape somehow. I started going to the gym and could maybe run 2 minutes on 5.5 mph at a time on the treadmill. I did not think in any way that it would improve from that point, because I was not a runner.
I unintentionally started running for real back in 2012 when I did my first Color Run. You can read all about my first “race” here. Coming home that saturday I couldn’t help but thinking maybe I could be a runner after all? If I could jog a 5K, maybe I could actually run? I started doing intervals on the treadmill and eventually started jogging outside. Even though I ran pretty often, I never seemed to get any further than 3-4 miles. I figured that was my limit and slowly lost the motivation to push any further. If I could do 3 miles, maybe that was enough. After all, its not like I could ever do a half marathon or anything so what was the point? I just wanted to stay in shape.
For the past year I feel like everyone from my best friends grandmother to my next door neighbor ran a half marathon. Was this just something people did now? Just casually run a half marathon on the weekends? I still didn’t think that I could, but I would always ponder the though when I saw all those glorious race photos on Facebook. The competitor in me wanted to go for it and I talked about it, but I never truly meant it. For Christmas this year, I got a fitness diary/calendar from my friend and filled with the “New Years Resolution” spirit, I started jotting down my fitness goals for the upcoming year. I put down, “Run a 10K” and I didn’t know how I would, but at least now it was written down on paper. I stared at it for a long time and even though I never really though I would do it, there was a glimpse of maybe. Just maybe I could. The day before New Years Eve, I went out for a routine 3 mile run and ended up running 6.2 miles, also known as 10K! I have no idea where I got the strength or stamina to do that, but I did. I don’t know if it was because the goal was now in my head or what happened, but something clicked. Did this mean I was a runner? It’s not like I would do a half marathon or anything, but I mean 10K was something. It was more than my usual 3 miler. I had pushed myself to do more.
After a few weeks, I picked it back up and started running on a regular basis again. Still just 3 miles, 3 times a week but I was preparing for something bigger because now I knew I could do more. In March I signed up for what would be my first half marathon! And on July 27th 2014, I finished it! I didn’t have the best preparation and I didn’t finish with the best time, but I finished! I completed my first half marathon.
During the race all I could think was, why would anybody do this to themselves? Why would I pay to do this? This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever done and I will never do it again! As soon as I saw that finish line I was thinking to myself, oh this wasn’t really that bad. I am kind of enjoying this! I am actually loving this! I will definitely do this again! Is that what they call the runners high? Was I in a state of delusion or does this just mean that I am a runner now?
Yes I am a runner! In fact, I have been a runner since the first time I stepped on that treadmill, but this is the first time I will admit it if someone asks!
You can read all about my actual race experience here.
So, remember when I told you I signed up for the San Francisco Half Marathon? Well, I am currently should be training for it! When I signed up back in March, I was in pretty good shape and figured this race would be a piece of cake, come July. Then I went on vacation for a few weeks and then pollen happened! If you are in California, you have probably noticed some heavy pollen lately as well. It’s been extra crazy this year because of the drought. I mean, I love the sun, but we could use some rain over here!
Given that I am going to be running over here in less than two months, I figured I would start back up with training hoping that I wasn’t too far gone… I did endless Google searches, read numerous blog posts, Runners World’s articles and you name it. I even bough the Runner’s World Big book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training! And yea you guessed it, they all say different things. That is why I decided to make my own program that would fit into my schedule and fit my fitness level. I have taken pieces from all the different plans out there and tried to really take in all advice I have been given from previous half marathoners.
Some of my key take-aways from the research has been:
1. Listen to your body! You can deal with pain, cramps and whatever, but listen to your body if it tells you to stop. And ice will become your best friend!
2. Slow down! I was obsessed with my race time for a minute there. Even though I am very competitive and want to finish in a decent time, this is my first half and I should honestly be happy just to finish!:)
3. Try everything out in training! The reason you train is so that you can optimize for race day. You can figure out what kind of breakfast you should have. What kind of running tights/top/headband/other crazy gear works the best in the long run and what snacks to bring. Or in my case, tissues. Lot’s and lot’s of tissues. I don’t know why, but as soon as I start running even a block, my nose starts running. Super annoying and I don’t know why or maybe it’s the pollen. Anyways, I digress.
4. Never try anything new on race day! I refer back to point 3. I have heard so many stories of people just switching to new socks on race day and it has completely messed up their grove. No bueno.
5. Steady finished the race! Every single one I have talked to about doing my half has told me this. Run slower in the beginning of your race and keep a steady pace. It’s easy to shoot off for the first few miles because you are so ready and excited, but this will just wear you down.
Keeping this in mind, I have come up with my 8 week Half Marathon training plan!
Be aware that I have been running about 2-4 miles 3 times a week for quite some time so keep that in mind if you never really have run before. I would suggest spending longer time training for the race. I am also doing lot’s of hill training because I realized that the race is super hilly! Uh, yea….!
How do you train for a half marathon? Are you in training now?