I signed up for a half marathon in May. This will be my first spring half and it feels a little strange to be gearing up while the weather is all over the place. The rhythm of this time of year is totally different but maybe that’s just a school thing (with myself and all the kids in various levels of schooling that dictates much of our schedule lives).
In the spirit of doing Something Different this go-round I decided I’d attempt following a training schedule. Well, something other than my usual ‘run, now run more’ half marathon training program. I’m sure this does not seem like a big deal, following a schedule, and for many if not most people it’s probably not. For me though, schedules are hard! They reek of regularity, doing what someone says you’re supposed to, and adulthood. All things I try to avoid. But I want to be a little faster than I was last fall. Following a training plan appears to be the best way to do that, or so they say. And really this thing isn’t much different than what I’ve been running…except now someone is telling me to which automatically makes me not want to. It’s a thing. An unfortunate one.
I’m using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half Marathon regime. It includes a couple basic runs a week, an LSD (long slow distance) that creeps up by a mile each week, some “pace runs”, & speed work once a week. That means every other week I really should will be either running a predetermined time at 1/3 easy pace and 2/3 faster pace (called a tempo run)or doing 400 repeats at a track. So far I’ve got one of each under my belt.
Guess what… they are Not fun!.
Okay, the tempo runs aren’t so bad. I’ve discovered I’m really not good at keeping a steady pace or even being aware of how fast I’m going though. I thought I was running an easy warm up mile but it was actually a 9:11 minute mile (That’s fast for me.) It worked out okay because I only got slightly slower for the next two miles and finished with a decent mile/minutes pace especially considering how slow my fourth mile was. It basically met the criteria for a tempo run and I felt pretty good while I was running faster. Plus that extra running effort gave me a mental boost that helped get me through my long (7 mile) run a few days later. While I’m feeling pretty good about The tempo runs that track work is another story.
I had forgotten how much I hate running on a track. Like, really hate it. I ran an easy mile to the neighborhood track then attempted a fast lap on said track. Maybe it was the late night and large, dark beer I had had the night before or maybe the general lack of sleep for the week was taking its toll but even that one lap felt terrible. I slogged part way around and tried another “fast” lap. No Dice! My legs were lead, I wasn’t breathing well and my stomach was starting to complain. After two more sad attempts at 400 repeats I threw in the towel and ran over to my usual spot (a cemetery right across the street) for a couple hill repeats instead. There’s one steep hill and a couple smaller, rolling hills that can be incorporated into one loop that’s probably about a quarter mile around. Two of those were way better than the four to five track laps I had done but I was still dragging a little and had yet to get home after that. Ugh. Overall I did put in five miles and some of it was fast. Not the best attempt at speed work but it was something.
Running is a mental thing. As in you have to be mental to enjoy it…No, wait, that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I know from experience that success in running, however you define that, is mostly mind over matter. If you decide you’re going to hate something you definitely will. It will feel terrible even if it doesn’t have to. (That goes for life in general.)
So maybe I’ll give those track runs another try in a couple weeks. My co-blogger suggested using beer as a motivator. That would only work if she came to the track and actually dangled the beer on a stick in front of me while I ran. She could throw out some verbal motivation too; maybe a harsh “Get your ass around that track!” would do the trick. Or maybe I’ll just substitute some hill repeats for the 400s the next time they pop up on my
suggested running sheet training schedule. Fast hill repeats because, even though I hate it, that speed work once a week seems to be paying off. My nine mile long run today felt awesome and I maintained the pace I’m aiming to run this half marathon at.
I grabbed shorts instead of pants when I packed my running clothes before work last night though so that may have been due to the cold. It was about thirty degrees (Fahrenheit) when I started the long run.
My legs were basically popsicles when I was done. Or maybe musicles. 😉
I thought I was going to be the only person at the park in shorts until one girl in shorts tore past me almost five miles in (and right before a giant steep hill… that girl was a beast! ) and yelled “Shorts, Yeah!” All total I saw three other runners wearing shorts on this brisk, windy Saturday morning. Many other park patrons were bundled in full winter coats. Kids at the Easter egg hunt I passed had on hats and gloves. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, runners be crazy!<
And I still hate speed work!