We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
– Proust –
Every mile is part of the journey. Covering distance, with every step, mindful of the imperfect roads. Life and running are perfectly imperfect and a journey of self-discovery. As I wrap up my fall racing, I reflect on the last five months of training and life.
13.1 Miles-is half of nothing. This has been my distance to conquer, to test my limits and strengthen my body and soul. Last June, I decided that this would be the season of running half marathons. I love this distance because it is a mixture of strength, stamina, endurance and speed.
The build up to this distance occurred over the last five months. Weekly training was a combination of strength, endurance and speed. I focused on building a solid base of weekly mileage – 25-30 miles a week. Running typically happened five times a week out of a seven day cycle. I included tempo runs, race specific speed workouts and the long runs into this training cycle. I increased my “short” weekdays runs from 4 to 6 miles. Every Saturday or Sunday I was managing to hit double digit long runs. Ten miles seems to be my lucky 10!
My constant struggle during any training cycle is “fitting in” the strength training. Strength training is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to staying injury free by maintaining good running form and keeping the hips and calves “strong and happy”!!
There is an incredibly satisfying feeling when training hard through the summer months for fall racing. You suck it up and get out there in the heat and humidity. My running mantra -#SuckitUpButterCup! For me, it was also a good time to add some races to my summer training. I like to use some races as preparation for my big goal race. The magic number, for me, was 13.1 miles this season! I raced a few 10ks, but have had my eye on the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon which is now in three weeks!!
The Journey to Racing 13.1
I used three half marathons this season as training runs, in preparation for my late fall goal race. In July I ran the Portland Maine Shipyard Half Marathon, then I went on to run the Navy Air Force Half Marathon in September, followed by the The Leaf Peeper Half Marathon in Vermont on October 4th The Annapolis Classic Half Marathon will bring me to a total of ten half marathons since I started road racing four years ago. Running 13.1 miles over and over again, allows or me to build on what works with pacing and knowing where I need to put in more work.
Overcoming the Mental Game
I feel like upping my shorter weekly runs to six miles and some nights even 7 miles, during the week, really put me in a good position mentally. Then, when it came time for my Saturday/Sunday longer runs, those double digit 10 milers seemed so much more manageable. 10 miles no longer seems like a long and challenging task. I have become more comfortable, both physically and mentally with lengthening the miles during my tempo runs. I have built strength, endurance and speed into my double digit runs, which I feel is key to racing half marathons.
Of course, as my body adapted both mentally and physically to consistent higher mileage, I then needed to add in more speed work and eventually increase my long runs to 11-12 miles every week. Increasing some of my long runs on weekends was doable because I picked two half marathons between the months of September and October.
The key piece of advice for myself this training season has been-building routines and consistency. Sticking to my 7 day training schedule and being consistent with a balance if hard tempos, easy long runs and speed work. Allowing my body and mind to adapt and then pushing myself further, reaching outside of my comfort zone.
Three Weeks till Goal Race and Then. . .
In the last three weeks leading up to the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon, my focus is staying injury free. I tend to feel a few “squeaky wheels” as I near the end of a training cycle that has been “high mileage” for me. So, I will foam roll, fill up on fish and legumes for protein, focus on eating complex carbs and start to taper a week and a half out from the race. I want to nail one more long run workout this weekend! It will be a tough workout-Allie from Vitatrain4life did this workout. I will adjust the paces to fit me.
2 mile warm up
3 miles @mp pace
3 miles @hmp
3 miles @10kpace
1 mile @mp
and a 1 mile cool down
Goals for Annapolis-allow myself to settle in to a good pace, trust my training, and not be afraid to “leave it all out there” on the course. I don’t want any regrets about this race and I know that as long as I just “run my race” it will all fall into place. I feel good about where I have come this year with half marathons. This is definitely a distance that allows me the opportunity to keep “chipping away” at my time.
This is a late season race, but after November I will take some time off from heavy mileage, let myself just enjoy some easy miles and then start building a base back up in January for spring races. I’ve enjoyed the journey. As with anything in life and running, nothing is perfect, the plans don’t always go off effortlessly each week, but the lessons learned along the road to any race build wisdom and strength.
“Everyone must take the time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”- Elizabeth Lawrence
Any late fall races on your schedule? What’s next?