Half Marathon Training, Again

I suddenly realized my training plan for the Madison Mini starts next week. I guess I should finalize it. I have a general plan, mostly the long runs, scheduled out, but need the details. This is a get me through the miles plan. My only goal is to be under two hours. My real half goal will be in November when I have a good enough base to actually do speed training. I have Ragnar in basically three weeks so need all the miles I can get before then. I did not run a single step in Italy unless you count running to the train in Florence.

I’m actually looking forward to having a plan again and training for something. I’ve just been out here treading water it feels like. I’m still working with my trainer two days a week and still really liking that. I lost a bit while on vacation, but she won’t let me slack. I did walk a lot and hike in Italy so at least I didn’t just sit on my ass. And I didn’t gain any weight on a pizza and pasta diet.

Walk of the Gods, Amalfi Coast
Walk of the Gods, Amalfi Coast

After going through a million plans in books and online and based on my experience I adapted one I used a long time ago. It gets me up to 12 miles before the race with a short taper, all things I wanted. I really do think my body is stronger and I can’t wait to run through Madison again. It’s been too long since I last ran this race.

Trying something new: Barre Code

I finally tried Barre Code. I’ve seen things about Barre for awhile. Honestly the thing that kept me away was the cost. Friends said it was a great workout and it’s not that I didn’t believe them it’s that I already pay for the YMCA and for a personal trainer. Thanks to OnMilwaukee I came across a code for a free class. I thought, why not? Well, I’m the idiot who tried Barre for the first time the day after running 10 miles for the first time in months. I still loved it.

I think Barre would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t been working with my personal trainer for the last month and a half. It was a fantastic workout with cardio, core, and strength, mostly using the weight of your body. I’m pretty certain some of the pain I felt had to do with running pains from the day before. It was nice to see other people struggling too. I would definitely would try this more if it weren’t so expensive. There’s just no way I’m paying $18/class. Maybe if I wasn’t paying for other things, but for now I won’t be going back unless I can find a deal. I do recommend trying it.

The other awesome thing this week was my running. I’m back, really back. I was a bit lazy at the beginning of the week, but didn’t let the crappy weather (rain record) keep me from doing anything. Thankfully my Y has a nice indoor track. I am still really excited about Thursday’s run. I ran 3 miles at an 8:47 pace and can’t believe I saw that number again. Saturday Rachel and I were in charge of leading 2 mile group runs every hour during Fleet Feet Brookfield’s Running Expo. Now I had no intention of doing all 7 runs. I can do simple math and know that it would have been 14 miles and that would have just been stupid with where I’m at right now. We ended up leading 5 runs over 6 hours so I did 10 miles for the first time in who knows how long. The last two were a bit tough, but I made it. I don’t think I would have been able to do 10 straight, but I’m pretty tempted to run 7-8 next weekend. My foot is not bothering me at all. My body is exhausted, but not in a way I’m worried.

I am absolutely loving that I can see improvement and am feeling stronger. It’s fun to be reminded of what I can do. My goals have really been to get stronger and keep my body healthy, and while that remains I want to accomplish more. I don’t exactly know what that means, but I’m enjoying getting in better shape and starting to see muscles I haven’t seen in a long time.

Training Plans

I’ve run quite a few half marathons. I could go back and count, but I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere between 15-20. I don’t really care the exact number. When I started it was a brand new thing and 13.1 miles seemed so far and a huge accomplishment. I really had no idea how I was going to get to that mileage. I went to a bookstore and grabbed a stack of books on half marathons. I chose one based on the fact that I agreed with enough things that the author said that I would trust him to get me to 13.1 miles. I chose the beginner plan since I was very much a beginner. I think I had run up to 7 miles at that point. I know I had run a few 10ks and a quarter marathon. I had done a handful of sprint triathlons and one olympic distance, but never had really trained for long distance running. It worked, I made it to the finish line and right at my 2:10 goal. It was exciting and I fell in love with distance running. After that I don’t really remember how I trained for half marathon number two. I ran a full marathon three months after that first half so assume I didn’t have trouble keeping up mileage for a half four months later. I was able to cut 10 minutes off my time and break two hours with a 1:59:56. I was pretty stoked. I later worked with a coach. I didn’t really like how that worked out. It wasn’t the right fit. I ran a faster half. I got injured training for another full. Blah, blah, blah. Skipping over quite a bit that I’ve probably already rambled on about and cut forward several years to now: I’m once again coming back from injury and want to train for a half marathon.

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I know how to slowly build up my mileage. That’s exactly what I’m already doing. But I want a plan. I’m sitting here with books and the internet and I literally don’t like any of the plans I’m finding. They either run too many days a week or not enough or have you running way too many miles the week before a race. I currently think I know too much and too little at the same time. I know I can get back to the miles. I’m not worried about that, but I want a plan. I think I know why I worked with a coach over the last few years. At least this time was a lot more successful than the first time I used a coach. But right now I’m paying for a personal trainer and that is important to keeping me healthy. I do not have the money to pay for a running coach on top of that. I’m thinking about it for my November half, but need to decide what the hell I’m doing for my August half.

I think I’m going back to good old pencil and a paper calendar. I will make my own plan. I have written a few for a friend. I generally know what to do and I think a lot of it will come back. I’m not planning on any speed work right now. I’m still hyper-paranoid about re-injury so will stick with my painstakingly slow mileage build-up. On a positive note I did register for the Madison Mini so that really is happening. It will be awesome and there will be post-race beers on the terrace.

Choosing Races

I’m sitting here on a Saturday morning having already run my miles for the day. It was only five miles, but it was a wonderful five miles with no pain and I’m ready for more. I’m sitting here with three different race registration pages open. They are three different distances and I have different reasons for wanting to run all of them.

Madison Mini – I am so ready to be able to run a decent half marathon again. I maintain this is my favorite distance and it’s been a long time since I was actually trained for one. My PR is three years old and I’m ready to work towards breaking that. Not in Madison, but later this year. I want to see where I can be in August. I know I can get to the miles I need by August 22nd. Plus I love the course. It is a run down memory lane for me and there is an awesome post race party on the terrace. You can’t beat that.

The Race for the Bacon 5k – Fun local race I do every year. This is a no brainer. I just have to decide when to spend the money. Price doesn’t go up until April 30th. It would be fun to actually race it again, which I haven’t done since the first year when I won my age group. Mind you I am now in a new and harder age group so I won’t count on that, but my 5K PR is even older than my half PR so it’s time.

Cudahy Classic 10 Miler – Cheap and local race. Easy way to run 10 miles when it’s hot out. This was technically the first race Sara and I ever ran together even though we didn’t actually know each other off the internet until that day. Best accidental race buddy ever.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be looking at races again. I was so scared to for so long. Even when I started back up with my running I was so paranoid about my foot.

Working with a personal trainer is going great. I can actually tell I’m getting stronger, which is just awesome. I can do push-ups again. My core is getting stronger. I might just get to being all around fit instead of just running fit.

I’m ready to click register!

Thirty

As I approached my 30th birthday I’ve thought about a million different things. It’s just another birthday, but really we make it a milestone and I’m all for celebrating. I don’t have a list of things to cross off. I don’t have a list of things I think I should have done by now. I tend to think all the lists about your twenties and thirties are stupid. We are all pretty different people and there is no one way I should be living my life. There are no set things I need to have accomplished. What I do have is so many wonderful, amazing people that have been part of my life over the last thirty years.

First, I am so grateful for my amazing family. I am unbelievably lucky to have the unwavering support and love that I have from my parents. I am glad that at almost thirty years old my parents and I are friends. Thank you for everything. I wouldn’t
even know where to start so I won’t. Second, only because he came along after me, my wonderful and amazing little brother. I couldn’t be happier to have him in my life even though he is 6000 miles away. He’s there when I need him. And he has brought a fantastic woman into our lives who I can’t wait to have as my sister. To Levi and Alix, I wish you were here and can’t wait to see you in a month.

To my friends, new and old, I find myself so lucky to have the friends that I do literally from coast to coast. From Cedarburg to Oconomowoc to Madison to DC to Milwaukee and everywhere else you have all moved, it means the world to me that I have people in my life that make it so much better. No matter what piece of my life you have been a part of it has all shaped me. There have been so many important people that I won’t even begin to try and list you all, but you know who you are and thank you. You have been there for the good, the bad, the fun, and the adventures. People have said it’s hard to make friends as you get older and move around. This is true to an extent, but I’ve found if you are willing to join groups or try new things you can meet some pretty great people: running groups, Ragnar, Book Club, Barley’s Angels. I wouldn’t change any of it. Here’s a peek into the last thirty years and I swear this is edited down.

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Turning thirty doesn’t scare me. I don’t mind getting older. I’m excited for what is to come.

Something New

I was going to say I was trying something new for this training cycle, but then realized I’m not in a training cycle. I have a be more active and healthy plan. I’m doing it all different and not just building mileage to get across the finish line. To start, I’m not just running. I’m doing that crazy thing called cross training. I’m spinning and doing strength work and even more crazy, core work. I also ditched DailyMile awhile ago. I’ve tracked my running in excel sheets and through Garmin Connect. believeI spent some time searching templates and downloaded a few. In the end, I decided to order the Believe training journal. Krista had posted about it a few times and I just decided it fell into the trying new things plan. I love it. It’s something different and I need that right now. It is a place I can write down whatever I want. It’s not just pace and distance. It has advice and workouts and probably a lot more that I haven’t even found yet. There are pages for goals. I have written one down. I have ideas for more. They aren’t public beyond my previously stated goal of staying out of the orthopedic doctor’s office. I want to think carefully about what I’m doing. I want this to be more than running. I’m really enjoying mixing it up and balancing it. My trainer may be trying to kill me, but that is why I’m paying her. She pushes me and I’m so damn stubborn I barely show when I’m struggling or in pain. I can do it, dammit. I don’t like when my body gives me a limit that I don’t agree with. I have to assume it’s starting to make a difference though. I still hate pushups, but I don’t hate the core work nearly as much. I’m just excited to get back out there. I am excited to get back to racing at some point. And most of all I’m excited to be back outside.

Running back north along the Oak Leaf is probably my most favorite place to run.
Running back north along the Oak Leaf is probably my most favorite place to run.

Running as therapy?

Running as therapy? Lots of people say this. I know I have. Running has often been my stress reliever. Running has given me endless, needed runs with Sara, which we both think has saved us from therapy. I know running doesn’t actually replace the need for professional help if it’s needed. But I also know running and exercise are good for me. Running has given me some amazing things. It saved my sanity during grad school. Running has introduced to me to so many friends I wouldn’t even know where to start. When I’ve lost running in the past it’s been really hard for me to figure out what to do. I would just get mad I couldn’t run. I would be jealous of everyone else running. This most recent injury (and being older and wiser, whatever) taught me/reminded me that it’s not just running. It’s exercise. I’ve mentioned several times that I go to spin classes. My goodness, that made a difference this fall/winter while I couldn’t run. My heart rate is up, I’m sweating and I feel like I’m getting a real workout. I was also reminded that I’m happier when I’m exercising. I was reminded that it doesn’t have to be running. There are plenty of ways to get a good workout in and that is something I have to remember.

Running remains an important part of my life, but as I wrote recently, I’m training smarter and concentrating on getting stronger and staying healthy. I think these are the key pieces to me being happier. Running has gotten me through a lot of things, but it’s not the end all be all. I want to be defined as so much more than a runner. One of the many reasons I won’t ever run a full marathon again is it takes over my life. It makes me not fun to be around. Heck, I don’t want to be around myself when I train for a marathon. It just doesn’t work for me.

With some recent changes in my life all I want to do is go for a two hour run and I still can’t do that so I need to concentrate on the exercise I can do and continue to slowly build up my mileage. I know long runs along the lake aren’t that far off and I can’t wait for the better weather for those runs.

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Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee skyline