Hey! If you’re reading this, and you aren’t myself from the future, then it’s probably been a long time since you’ve heard from me. I began this blog four years ago to document my training from basic 5k fun runs to the ultimate goal of a marathon. Things were going swimmingly – I ran a handful of fast 5ks, an 8k, and a 10k. I was a few months away from running a planned half marathon in October of 2018, and I had no doubts in my mind.
So, why the three-year gap in posting? Well, let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned.
Before we go on, I just want to add a little disclaimer for my own peace of mind. I started this blog with the goal of joining a community of like-minded runners. This may happen again, but I am beginning to post with one goal in mind: To have something to look back on. Because even now I will go back and re-read my old running logs and race reports with a smile on my face because I barely remember those training runs. If you read this and you’re somebody that I know, or some ultra-competitive runner wondering why I expect people to follow along with me, know that this isn’t for anyone but myself. And if someone follows who is starting at the same spot then me, then please feel welcome.
My original half marathon was scheduled for late October 2018. I began to have my doubts as early on as late August. Some summer vacations had pushed my training back and work was consuming me to no end. And then I faced a major life change. A four-year relationship ended on the final days of August and I was terrified to even think about training. I had to focus on myself and just get through the days. Running was no longer a priority, and this was what was best for me at the time.
The closest that I got to running that half marathon was going to the expo and picking up the shirt that I had paid for when I signed up for the race. The room was buzzing with excitement, and the organizers asked me how I was feeling. But I had not run in weeks and had 0 intentions of considering it anymore. I did not run that race.
I have tried to pick things up where I left off since then. There were a few spurts of motivation. Then COVID-19 happened, and the odd 1-kilometer run was just to keep me from going crazy while locked inside. I picked up again, a little more seriously, in January of 2021. I spent two months running, eating healthy, drinking protein shakes, and wondering if I could set my sights on another race.
These motivations didn’t fade away, but my discipline did. I moved into a new apartment, adopted a cat, and dealt with gym closures due to the ongoing pandemic. It wasn’t until later that summer that I decided it was now or never. It’s time to get serious and train for something that has been years in the making. And so, I set my sights on a May 2022 half-marathon, with a long-term goal of either running the full in the fall of 2022 or the spring of 2023.
Let’s do this damn thing!
Where I’ve Been & Where I’m Going
I decided to break up my upcoming training into four blocks. With so much time ahead of the marathon and such a little base to work with, I knew that I had options. The blocks included:
- Building up to comfortable 5k runs again
- Bridging the gap towards the 10k
- Completing a half-marathon training plan, but running that final 13.1 miles at a slow & steady pace
- Spending the two months before the race getting ready to set my sights on a faster time
Many first-time half-marathoners never run the full distance until race day. While this is the case with my training plan (Hal Higdon’s novice 1), I know that my own confidence won’t be at its peak until I know that I can do it. I’ll either run the full 13.1 miles in training at a snail pace or get as close to it as possible before I train the second half of Novice 2 before the event.
I have already finished that buildup to the 5k. I used the infamous “Couch to 5k” app on my phone to get me there. Knowing that I was starting off with more running history than many app users, the program threw me into the training near the middle. I did each one starting at the end of week 3, combining runs and walks until I could run the distance in less than 35 minutes. I threw one or two extra runs in there for confidence and came out feeling relieved that my fitness from before was still inside of me, somewhere.
Tomorrow I will begin the second part of my training: getting to that 10k distance. The couch to 10k app is downloaded, but I plan to follow it with my own modifications. Similar to the 5k app, I will be starting it close to the halfway point. After all, it helps you build up to a 5k, which I’ve already done. It schedules you for 3 runs per week, and the program itself estimates that I will finish it on Christmas Day, 2021.
In addition to following these runs, I will be implementing cross-training and one speed training day each week. The app has 0 days allocated to speed training, and instead focuses on time spent running rather than distance. Based on my history, this doesn’t feel like enough for me. But it’s a good place to start, and I’ll use my experience to figure out ways to make it more fulfilling.
In terms of cross-training, I have a habit of sticking to cardio. But upper-body strength is a major goal for me this time around, so I intend to do at least 1-2 arm days per week. I have also been utilizing yoga and stretching in my daily life, and I will continue to do this going forward.
My speed training will consist of tempo runs and speed repeats. As it stands, my non-speed runs are sitting at 7:00-7:45 minutes/kilometer. This is fine for my long runs and I have no shame in admitting that I’m starting slow, but my old races were at a 5:30-6:00/kilometer pace and I would like to get back to that.
After finishing the 5k plan, I took a recovery day yesterday and a mixed run today. One slow kilometer and one faster kilometer, for a quick little run out in the beautiful fall weather.
I would like to hit a 5k personal best (my old PB is 28:50ish) before the half marathon, as well as a PB for the 10k (which is about 60:30.) Other goals include eating healthier, drinking more water, and consuming more protein. Ultimately, I hope that this half marathon leaves me healthier, happier, and ready to keep running. I like to think that I can become an ultrarunner before I’m 30, but let’s focus on baby steps.
This blog better keep me accountable, because we’re in for a long ride.
Until next week, stay safe and stay running. 🙂