Posts Tagged by half marathon

How Not to Train for a Half Marathon

*Especially if it’s your first one in a very long time.

I’m running a half marathon tomorrow. Not only will this be my first (non-pregnant) race since November 2012 (yikes!), but it will also be the longest distance I’ve run in a year. Considering the previous statement, you would think that I’d have spent a long time diligently training; slowly building up my base to ensure that I am completely prepared for this exciting reentry into the world of racing.

I had every intention of doing this. Or rather, I intended to build up as slowly as a person can over the course of 10 weeks after 6 weeks of limited activity while recovering from a c-section. In hindsight, my April half marathon goal may have been a tad ambitious – not because 10 weeks isn’t enough time to train for a half but…when you’re starting from zero and find yourself with significantly less free time and slightly different priorities well… let’s just say my intentions never actually made their way into the action stage.

Remember when I posted this plan and said that I would use it as a guide for my training? Well, I took the “guide” part pretty literally. I did okay for a little while and then a cold, a heel injury, the return to work and a stomach flu all sort of derailed my plans. So you know, I may have skipped a run (or 10) and just sort of hobbled my way through training as best as I could.

In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, I present to you my actual Postpartum Half Marathon Training Plan.

Don’t try this at home, kids. Results not guaranteed.

postpartum half marathon plan

There were a bunch of walks and some limited strength training in here too, but you get the idea. In sum: this is not the way you should train for a half (clearly). And you can see where I realized I better get myself in gear and step it up. Would I recommend cramming your long runs into the last two weeks of training before a big race? Nope. But hey, I’m still standing. And since I didn’t die on my 11 mile run last weekend and was actually able to maintain a fairly steady pace the entire time, I’m obviously super prepared for the race tomorrow. Let’s just hope a little race day adrenaline and the addition of a cute little cheerleader on the sidelines is enough to get me through those final miles.

Amelia standing

Assuming I survive*, I promise to be back soon to update you with all the gory details.

*Despite how the above post might sound, I’m actually really excited about the race tomorrow. Okay, so I’m also incredibly stressed. What was I thinking, signing up for a Saturday race 2 hours away from my house after only my second full week back in the office (a week that has been incredibly draining, I might add)?! But mostly excited. I can’t say I have no goals for the race, because obviously I would like to finish, and I’d love if I could somehow do it between 2:00 and 2:10. But I’m not stressing about the pace at all. The plan is to go out there, take it easy, and rediscover the joy (and pain!) of racing again. In some ways I feel like I am starting from scratch – I knew how to race before I got pregnant, knew to dial it back a bit in races during pregnancy, but I’m not so sure how to race now…in this awkward, out of shape postpartum state. If nothing else, it should be an interesting experience. And a good baseline to see where all that time off and a few weeks of minimal training has gotten me.

The Not-Training Training Plan

After a few warm days that teased of spring, winter has returned to Vermont. It’s freezing, the one million feet of snow still on the ground has turned into ice, and more snow is in the forecast for 4 out of the next 5 days. It’s that time of year when I start questioning the life decisions that somehow brought me to this frozen tundra of a state. Thankfully Evan, Amelia and I will soon be escaping the frigid temperatures for a much-needed warm getaway. My little snow baby isn’t going to know what to do with herself when she feels the sun for the first time. But more about that later.

IMG 5530

Instead, let’s talk about training! (it’s been awhile) Or rather, “not-training.” Over that past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed heading out for a short run whenever I felt like it. It’s been nice to ease my way back into this sport. As much as I missed the regularity of training plans and races in my life over this past year, I find that I’m really enjoying this in-between stage — the not pregnant, but not training phase. Just taking my comeback one slow step at a time.

However, there’s a little race that I signed up for in mid-April that’s fast approaching. As tired as I am of this winter weather, I can’t believe it’s already the end of February. Spring (and my return to work) is right around the corner. Which means it’s time to get my butt in gear.

The half marathon I’m planning to run will be a little over a year to the day that I found out I was pregnant with Amelia. I’m not training to race this half. In fact, I don’t even expect to get up to 13 miles before race day. Instead, I’m looking at it as a milestone. To signify the end of one cycle (pregnancy/recovery) and the beginning of the next. This half marathon will be the the start of my training. A goal to keep me motivated during this tough re-entrance into running and a baseline to see where I’m at before fall marathon training begins.

I’m so excited to bring this phase of life full circle. I loved running while pregnant, have really soaked up my recovery time and am looking forward to the future. There’s a fire burning deep in my heart that I haven’t felt in a long time. I want to get strong, I want to work hard. Any trace of burnout I’ve felt over the past couple of years has completely disappeared. I’m ready to get back out there again. I know it’ll take time, but the funny thing about it is that makes me more excited, not less. I want to be fast again — someday. But more than that, I’m looking forward to the work. To feel that familiar ache in my muscles after a long run, the gotta-puke-burning-lungs sensation during a hard workout, and the mental pain as I fight those demons that tell me I need to quit. In short, absence really has made my heart grow fonder. It’s been so long since I’ve pushed myself that I’m actually looking forward to the pain.

Now, of course that’s easy for me to say as I sit here on the couch with a baby sleeping on my chest. And despite my excitement to work hard again, I’m still not at the place where I’ll choose a run over time with Amelia…and I’m certainly not wishing I was out running long on a cold winter morning instead of in bed snuggling a baby. I am soaking up every single minute that I can with her. But I’m slowly getting glimmers of my old “runner” self back, and I love that too. When I do get the opportunity to run, I’ve tried to enjoy every single moment, even the sucky “why am I so tired after 4 miles??” ones.

DSC 0801

Anyway, that’s a lot of rambling to say: I’m excited about training and want to slowly build up my base, but I’m not considering myself to be “in training” yet. However, since I do have a half marathon coming up in the very near future, I need to make sure I’m actually able to run for over an hour and a half without dying. Enter the “Not-Training Training Plan.”

postpartum half marathon training plan

The sole goal here is to build up my base. To slowly work on my endurance and practice running long. My last double-digit run was over the summer when I was 20 weeks pregnant….almost 30 weeks ago. I would like to get my body back to the place where I can handle double-digit runs before I start actually training (i.e. working on speed, etc). But I want to be smart about it. I’ve been running for 3 weeks and have only gone on a handful of short, easy runs in that time. Chances are I’m being a little more conservative than I need to be. But my injury-prone body has been through some pretty dramatic changes over the past year. So I’d rather be safe than sorry.

The training plan I posted above is meant to serve as an outline only. Weeks 1-3 reflect my actual runs. The rest are runs I hope to complete. It should be noted that I don’t really plan to follow this schedule exactly as it is written — I already didn’t complete the run I had scheduled for yesterday. But I need a guideline to make sure I can actually handle the distance on race day. Like I said before, it’s probably more conservative than I need to be. I’m keeping my overall mileage low and building up as slowly as I can within the time frame. If I feel good one day/week, I’ll run more; if I don’t feel up to it, I’ll do less. This is all uncharted territory for me.

In the meantime, I need to figure out how to transfer this sleeping baby off my lap so I can run to the bathroom. My day is just chock-full of excitement! Hopefully I can squeeze a few miles in later too.

 

The Increasingly Irrational Decisions of LB

As you all know by now, Sunday was supposed to be my first race of the season – and my very first race as a Saucony Hurricane. Instead, it was my first real DNS (did not start).

Not quite as exciting…OR something I’m particularly proud of and excited to write about. Obviously I remained in denial about the situation for as long as possible. So how does one go from proclaiming that a little bit of rest is all she needs to be able to run a race to deciding not to even start?

Well….without further ado, I present to you: “The Increasingly Poor Irrational Decisions of LB” (anyone else seen this show? No? Just me…?)

Friday night

Come home from cross training at the gym. At this point I have spent the entire afternoon Googling some form of the phrase: “pain arch runner” and have managed to convince myself that I have full-blown post-tib tendinitis, my right arch is slowly collapsing, and before I know it, I will be flat-footed and permanently injured. Kick myself for thinking that even cross training was a good idea. Spend a good portion of the evening trying to convince EC that my right ankle is, indeed, collapsing more than my left.

Saturday morning

Wake up. Immediately start icing foot. Get Ibuprofen from nearby drugstore. You know – to reduce the inflammation and all that jazz. Take Ibuprofen and head down to UPS with EC to pick up last year’s uniform that Saucony sent me for the race on Saturday. Fall immediately in love with the ViZiPRO pink and blather incessantly about how excited I am to race in it the next day.

2011 Hurricane UniformThis picture does not do justice to the wonderful brightness of this pink

Head to local running shoe store to explain my plight to the staff and look at inserts. Because obviously, even though I haven’t run with inserts for any of my adult life, I must need them now. You know – to support that dropping arch of mine. I have my gait quickly analyzed and the staff member tells me that I definitely over-pronate, but if anything – it’s more on my left foot than my right (What?!? He must not be seeing things correctly). I try on a couple of different types of inserts and even run up and down the street in one. I’ve made my decision – I will buy inserts and I will race in them tomorrow. All my problems will be solved.

Thankfully, I have EC with me. And with a few moments to reflect and speak rationally about the situation with him (combined with some hesitant remarks from the staff when I stated my plan out loud), I decide to hold off on the inserts…for now. I would still race, but without the extra support. And then if things didn’t get better, I’d go back and buy a pair.

(On a positive note, we did get EC fitted in a brand new pair of running shoes of his own. So the trip wasn’t a total bust)

Saturday afternoon

After running a few more errands, EC and I get back to my apartment. I put on compression socks, keep my feet up, and proceed to keep up a routine of icing for the rest of the day (along with taking another Ibuprofen). RICE at its finest. Still in denial, I look up the course map and start talking about places EC can stand to watch. You know, my foot is actually feeling a lot better. In fact, it’s practically good as new. I will definitely be running tomorrow.

Operation RICE for my stupid right foot is underway

Saturday evening

EC begins the long, tedious process of talking some sense into me (easier said than done). I brush him off, telling him that he doesn’t need to worry. I will start the race tomorrow and if I feel any pain at all, I will drop out. We both know this is a lie. He continues making logical statements. I continue arguing against them with increasingly illogical ones of my own:

But I need to run this race. I spent money on the registration. It wasn’t cheap, you know!

But the race sold out. If I don’t run, that means I’ll have taken a bib from someone else that could’ve run. I feel too awful!

You know – it would be different if I had broken my foot or something. {yes, clearly talking about a more severe injury that you could have is the rational thing to do in this situation}

It’s not like I have some serious injury.

But I’m not even limping around!

Look – it is SERIOUSLY fine. My foot does not hurt {stated as I ran around in circles in my apartment like a madwoman}.

I can’t just sit around tomorrow. I need to do a long run. Which obviously means that I need to do this race.

But I won’t even get my t-shirt….

Finally, with a few more tears than I’d like to admit, I accept defeat. What finally convinced me? Statements about prevention….and poker.

You’ll have to wait until my next post for the poker talk (I bet you’re excited!). But for now, we can focus on prevention. Something I strongly support in most aspects of my life (you know the old axiom – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”). But when it comes to running – something I easily forget when I’m blinded by crazy.

Because even though my foot really was feeling better than it had, I knew that it still wasn’t 100%. I might have been able to make it through the race, but not without further damage. As EC so wisely said:

It’s not about the injury you have now. It’s about the injury you can prevent.

Which got me thinking about the question my old coach used to ask us when we were struggling with running through injury.

Would you rather run today, or run for the rest of your life?

While I don’t think racing a half marathon on a sore foot would have kept me out of commission for the rest of my life, the sentiment was the same. And could be re-phrased to something more like this:

Would you rather run today, or run on April 16th?

I needed to choose April 16th.

If this had been my goal race, there wouldn’t have been any question about whether I would run it. I would have gone out there and willed my foot to take me through one last run, knowing that I could ice and rest it for a long time after. But Hyannis was not my goal race. Sure, it would’ve been a great training run, and I was itching to race after many months away from it. But I needed to keep my eyes on the ultimate goal. Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of training, it’s easy to get caught up in what you need to do right now. And think that if you don’t do this long run, your training is out the window. Your hopes of running a marathon are over.

When in reality, sometimes NOT running is much better for you in the end.

saucony guide 5

Now it’s Tuesday. I’m a couple of days removed from the situation, and am thinking much more rationally. Even though I’m still bummed about my big fat DNS, my life has gone on (what a surprise). I’m happy I didn’t choose to injure my foot further by being stubborn. And I’m hoping that the extra rest and cross training I am doing this week will help things heal, and allow me to race not once, but twice this coming weekend.

Next up – what marathon training and poker have in common. Or, I should say, my irrational approach to training and poker…

Insomnia & Mystery Pain – It Must Be Race Week!

This weekend, I’ll be returning to Hyannis to run my first race of 2012. And until this past Monday, I hadn’t actually given much thought to the race at all. In fact, I sort of forgot that it was coming up so quickly. I signed up for the Hyannis Half awhile ago because I had such a great time there last year and figured it could be a fun race to mix up my training a bit.

But, since I haven’t really been thinking about it, I haven’t actually done anything specific to prepare. I haven’t changed my training and haven’t exactly been the picture of health when it comes to my eating habits this week either. Instead, I just kept telling myself that there was no reason to be nervous or stressed about the race at all, because the plan was (is) to do it as a training run.

But we all know how good I am about making a race into training run <sarcasm>. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I will admit that I want to run this race fast – or faster than last year, at least. Last year I ran this half through the snow, while battling a really bad cold and nasty congestion. I wasn’t expecting to do anything spectacular, and ended up with a new PR. A PR that still stands to this day.

hyannis half_group

Granted, I don’t do too many half marathons, and all of them have been in the midst of training for something else. But if I can run a 1:33:07 while sick, reason goes to show that I should be able to run faster when I’m not sick. It hasn’t happened yet, though. Either I’m not so great at racing half marathons, or my secret to success is racing while sick.

Anyway – I hadn’t really been paying attention to any of those thoughts swirling around my head. I’ve actually been refusing to acknowledge any and all thoughts about the race. You know…because denial is always the best pre-race strategy.

But then this week – the problems started. Insomnia and mysterious foot/ankle pain. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe (just maybe) I’m a bit more nervous about this half marathon than I’ve allowed myself to admit.

The insomnia thing is nothing new. Sleep and I have always had a troubled relationship. I’m not the type of person that can fall asleep anytime and anywhere without problem. I often have trouble sleeping anywhere besides my own bed, and go through phases a couple of times each year where sleep becomes more difficult than a 20-mile run. It stops coming natural and starts feeling like work. Of course, the cruel irony is that the more you stress about not being able to fall alseep, the harder it is to do so. I try to tell myself that lying in bed, thinking about how I’m never going to be able to fall asleep isn’t exactly doing myself any favors. But I repeat the cycle every night anyway. Instead of letting my body drift off, my brain somehow thinks that if it works hard enough, it can will my body to sleep. Because that makes a whole lot of sense, right?

I suppose here is where I should have a few bullet points to tell you what healthy things I’ll be doing for the next couple nights to make sure I get enough rest before Sunday. But honestly? I’m 99.9% sure there’s going to be some Nyquil in my very near future. Yes, it’s that bad.

Which brings me to the foot pain. On Monday, I noticed some pain in the arch of my foot and my ankle. It didn’t seem awful (feels like it’s bruised…although there’s no actual bruise that I can see), so I kept my run really short and figured I could stretch/roll and be good as new the next day. Except I wasn’t. And like the smart stubborn runner that I am, I kept running on it anyway. You know, because if you run 8 miles easy instead of at the prescribed tempo pace, the pain will obviously go away. Right??

Yesterday, I finally came to my senses. Obviously continuing to run on something that hurts with every step (and especially when I take right turns…which I seem to do a lot. I think I need to start running in the opposite direction) is not good. And it certainly won’t help me race well on Sunday. So, despite the fact that yesterday was probably the nicest day of the year so far, I did not run. Instead, I took Koli for a 2.0 mile walk after work.

IMG_0878.JPGThis is not from yesterday’s walk. But it is my dog.

Just kidding! I actually have no idea how far we walked. The point is, though, that I walked. I did not run. And last night I crossed my fingers and went to sleep (or at least attempted to), hoping the pain would be gone in the morning.

As you may have guessed…it’s not. I know I can’t be frustrated that things aren’t completely better after one day of rest, but since I don’t know what is causing the problems in the first place, it’s hard not to be. The plan for now is to cross train today and hope to take it on a short test run tomorrow. And if all else fails…that’s why they make ibuprofen, right? (Kidding!! ….kind of).

So those are my jumbled pre-race thoughts. No calm inspirational message…just focusing on trying not to freak myself out too much. I know that the tougher I am going in mentally, the better the race will be. And at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. Yes, I want to do well, but this isn’t a race that I’ve been working really hard toward for months on end. No matter what happens, there will be other races. And plenty of time to chase down that half marathon PR.

Now if I could just get some sleep….

Honestly – if you have any great sleep tips that don’t involve knocking myself out with nighttime cold medication, please share!

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain

…not to be confused with this book, by Garth Stein -

art of racing in the rain cover.jpg

Which, much to my dismay when I picked it up a few years ago, is not actually about running. Though I did learn a lot about driving race cars. And I’m admittedly a sucker for any story that’s about a dog, written from a dog’s point of view, or just has a lot of dogs in it.

Anyway, I digress…

Today I want to talk about running in the rain. Or, more specifically, racing in it. Signing up for races means making a commitment to run in any type of weather – cold, heat, snow, sunshine, and rain. In my running-paradise, every race would be 50 degrees and sunny. But this is real life, and sometimes that means you have to run in pretty inclement weather.

Like Sunday’s Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, where it didn’t just rain…it poured. Was I excited about running in these conditions? Heck no. Running through pouring rain and driving headwinds just adds to the misery of racing for an hour and a half. But it doesn’t have to be the worst experience in the world. With just a little bit of planning, it might not be quite as miserable as you expect.

Racing in the Rain

Signs of a runner who has been slogging racing for over an hour through torrential downpour…

Prov RnR.jpg

 

While I can’t promise you’ll have tons of fun the next time you have to race through a downpour, I do have a few tips to hopefully make it a little more bearable.

1.) Stay as dry as you can for as long as you can.

You have no choice but to get wet once the gun goes off, but why make yourself even more miserable by standing around and getting soaked before the race begins? Especially if it’s cold. Seek shelter before the start and try to go into the corral at the last minute. If you have to stand outside, get yourself a trash bag and make yourself a fancy schmancy trash bag rain coat. They’re all the rage these days.

Prov RnR_FL & LB.JPGPhoto from Frayed Laces

2.) Wear a hat.

This might be obvious, but having a brimmed hat is the best way to keep the water out of your face as you’re running. Because let’s be honest – do you really want rain in your eyes when you’re trying to figure out where to turn on the course or avoid those ankle-deep puddles?

DSCF5129.JPGI got this hat from Road Runner Sports a year ago – and love it!

3.) Less is more!

There’s no avoiding it – your clothes are going to get soaked. So don’t weigh yourself down even more by wearing big shirts or bulky bottoms. Since most races (that I know of) won’t allow you to run naked, choose light, formfitting clothes. As evidenced by the above photo, loose shorts start sticking and riding up when they’re wet. Not only is this incredibly unattractive, but it also can lead to more chafing. Which brings me to…

4.) Body Glide everywhere…and then do it again.

It quickly became clear after finishing Sunday’s race that I didn’t do as great a job with the Body Glide as I had thought. When running in the rain, you will probably experience chafing in areas you’ve never had to worry about before – avoid that by being as liberal with Body Glide as you can.

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5.) Leave the iPod at home

Unless you can wrap it in a plastic bag and stow it somehow, rain + iPods do not mix. Fortunately, mine seems to be okay now (maybe it just needed to dry out), but I shouldn’t have even brought it to the race to begin with.

DSCF5134.JPG

 

6.) Trade trainers for racing flats.

Within a mile of Sunday’s half marathon, my feet were so weighed down with water that my racing flats weighed about as much as my normal trainers. Even though this was the longest I had raced in them to date, I was so glad not to have even more weight on my feet.

7.) {try to} Have fun with it!

Stomp in puddles. Try to throw your competition off by splashing water at them. See if you can catch rain drops in your mouth. Or make a game out of out-running the rain drops. Yes, I know….after an hour running up hills and slogging through puddles, the fun starts to wear off a little bit. But doing whatever you can to change your attitude from “This sucks. I’m miserable. Get me out of here!” to one that sees the rain as part of the fun can make the race just a little less crappy.

8.) Bring a change of clothes for after the race.

You’ve already spent a long time running in your gross, wet clothes. Do you want to stand around in them too? Being able to towel off and change into dry clothes after you’ve crossed the finish line can make you feel as good as new.

Girls_RnRSorry Lizzy – this was too good not to share!

9.) Just make sure those clothes are stored in a dry place.

Whoever was in charge of the RnR bag check process didn’t really plan for the weather. Bags were just thrown in a pile on the ground without any sort of covering to keep them dry. Because canvas bags are waterproof, right??

I felt bad for all the participants who had checked their bags at the start only to finish and find sopping wet clothes waiting for them. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid this, but if you can stash the bag somewhere dry yourself – do it!

10.) Celebrate! …by going somewhere warm and dry.

Even though the amazing Sugar Ray was performing after the race (did he ever have more than just 2 songs??), we didn’t stick around for too long afterward. Because listening to a concert in the rain after running through the rain isn’t as much fun as one might think.

So the next day we celebrated surviving the race (me as a runner and EC as a world-class spectator) by going somewhere warm and sunny.

Okay…I’ll admit that this doesn’t really have a ton to do with the post. But I needed a #10…and you asked for pictures of my hair cut, so here you go.

LB_haircut

LB_gansett

 

Any other tips to share for surviving a race in the rain? 

 

 

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