Saturday, February 11, 2023

Let's talk training

I've got a half marathon looming this weekend, which I'm running with my friend Sarah, so it only makes sense to finally sit down and review my training...such as it was. This is actually kind of tricky because I can't pinpoint exactly when I started. I signed up October 5, so let's say that's when I intended to start training, but I didn't put together a plan right away. Actually, any nebulous plan I had in my head was sidelined by a week or two of persistent smoky days just four days after we signed up for the race.

It wasn't until November that I sat down and figured out the remainder of our long runs for training, but that was derailed by the holidays, vacations, the flu, and Zoe's arrival.

These interruptions and the slow start had the bizarre effect of me being in a state of denial that I'm training at all. This is the first time I'm sitting down and trying to get myself into the mental headspace for a half marathon, and the race is tomorrow!

Basically, this is the first half I've trained for since 2019 and I have to use the word "trained" lightly. This may be my most under-trained half since my first one in 2011, which luckily pre-dates this blog.

I know this race won't be a blowup like that one was. I have been training, and I think it's been pretty consistent, but February has felt like a fever dream and has basically erased all memory of what came before. Since I didn't really capture my training along the way, I am going to rely on Strava and Garmin Connect to fill in the blanks.
February doesn't count, and I don't really know if this number is good or bad. It's probably low.
Looking at this chart, I'm remembering now that I was lifting twice a week and focusing on adding weight from September to late November. I was going to the gym at work and was really enjoying how it felt to test the limits of my glutes. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that my runs were feeling sluggish because my legs were always tired!

So in December I lightened the load. I cut back to lifting only once a week and went back to minimal weights. I noticed a rapid improvement in my runs. This is something I'll need to keep in mind for the future, because lifting heavy was really fun but I clearly can't do it while training for a long race.
This training consisted of no speedwork and a max distance of 11 miles. I don't mind the longest run being the race itself, but as expected I am having a bit of Taper Terrors because I feel like I've barely run in the last week (I haven't) and I've forgotten everything I know about long runs (I probably haven't).

The other thing is that Sarah and I haven't really decided on a race plan. During our last long run, she went out ahead of me toward the end and I enjoyed having someone to follow; we both anticipate we'll start together but from there, who knows? I like slowing down to avoid walk breaks and she feels better when she can run a little faster and walk when needed. We may just stick together for the first three miles and then meet each other at the finish line, but that means I have to conquer the race course alone. I better spruce up my playlist...
I also need to keep reminding myself that I took the entire week off before my 11-miler and felt pretty damn great during it! Better than I did during my 5-miler the following weekend!

In short: training happened, it wasn't terrible, but for some reason I feel like it was a fever dream and I never actually stopped to think about how big and difficult a half marathon can be, so now my brain has gone into denial-mode as a survival tactic.

Hopefully that means I'll start my run tomorrow as if it's any other long run, and the next thing I'll know, I'll have a shiny new medal to stash in the box under my bed!


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