Half-Marathon Training

It’s November which means I’m in the middle of filling up another Grateful Jar:

Grateful Jar 2015

I started this tradition the first year we were married. Each October, I cut up some scrap book pages and stack them in a bowl with a pen. We (mostly me, but Bret sometimes, too) use them to write down things we’re grateful for whenever they come to mind. The jar is full by Thanksgiving, and that’s when we read them all and then seal the jar up as a keep sake. I use the old jars as Thanksgiving decorations and I’m looking forward to being able to go back and read them as years pass. It’s like we’re storing a little window into different points in our lives.

This year, I’ve already noticed a theme. I’m writing a lot about running, and, how grateful I am for the source of support and encouragement Bret has been as my training partner. I’m training to run a half marathon in February, and there have been so many obstacles already. Weeks of rain meant running with soaked shoes and constantly having to turn around since parts of our path we’re closed off for flooding. Training with work travel means waking up EARLY in a conference hotel and hitting the gym before my presentations. And I know more challenges are on the horizon with day light savings being over and winter on the way.

I signed up for this half-marathon on a whim, and I didn’t really expect myself to take it very seriously, but I love working toward big goals and the process has been so invigorating. Some days, like yesterday, I looked outside after a long day at work and saw this yucky cold constant mist pouring out of the sky. It looked kind of miserable and I asked Bret if we should really go for a run today. Should we skip this one? Should we do strength training at home instead? But he said we should run and even though it was tough, once we were halfway through I was feeling great.

It’s such a rewarding feeling a the end of every workout. We still have a long way to go, but we are on track for me to be able to run 13.1 miles in February. I’m trying to remember to document our impressive runs with photos. Here’s a look at our progress over the last few months:

2 hours

This was our first “big” run. We walked most of it, but we walk/ran/jogged for two hours straight and we made it 8 miles. This was back in August, and it’s the first time I thought, wow, I can really do this. Because if I maintained that pace for just another hour, I’d hit 12 miles which is only 1 mile shy of a half-marathon.

Rain or Shine

This was one of my least favorite runs ever because there was so much rain, and when I took this picture I didn’t know that we had another week of rain to go, but we ran anyway. We missed a few days when the flooding was bad, but for the most part, we got outside and we ran and I kept building toward my goal. This was in September.

Sick

I’ve had an awful cold and even though I didn’t feel like it, we ran on Saturday. My goal was 10 miles in 2 hours. We didn’t make it to 2 hours, but we did 7 miles in 90 minutes and that was a huge improvement over 8 miles in 120 minutes that we did a few months ago. I love seeing progress!

I’m still new to all of this running, but I totally understand the addiction. We see familiar faces running on the same paths that we run, and it is such a normal part of my routine now. I still have a long way to go, but here are my half-marathon training tips that I’ve learned so far:

  1. Follow a schedule. We’re loosely following this training program which means we run 30 minutes on Tuesday, 30 minutes on Thursday, and then either 30 minutes or several depending on the Saturday. You do not want to run every day. We always give ourselves at least one day in between to recover, and you don’t want to increase your workout by too much a time. It’s a gradual process. We started using the Couch to 5K training app where we were only running for a minute at a time before taking a walking break. Now, a few months later, we can comfortably run a 5K (3 miles!) without stopping. Slow and steady.
  2. Eat real food. I convinced Bret to eat oatmeal for breakfast (REAL slow-cooked oats that I cook on the stove) with peanut butter, brown sugar, walnuts, and bananas stirred in. He LOVES it. We eat this for breakfast almost every morning. I also make us “green smoothies” with frozen fruit, spinach, honey, chia seeds, and water as a recovery drink. I try to remember that everything I put in my body is fuel. Even though it’s tempting, I am limiting sweets and junk food. I can’t tell you the last time I had a soda.
  3. Wear quality shoes that fit. Bret told me about this awesome running store in Harrisonburg, VA where they watch you run and look at how your shoes wear and help you find shoes that are a perfect fit. Unfortunately, the store is gone, but we found a similar one in Hickory, NC called Fleet Feet. We went there and their awesome staff worked with us individually to find shoes that best fit us. I have NEVER had a shoe this comfortable. We also bought inserts that provide a lot of support.

Next up, I want to incorporate more yoga into my weekly routine. I know this will help me take care of my body and stay flexible. Three months to go!

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