Saturday, October 4, 2008

My first half marathon: how I've trained

By this time tomorrow morning, just twenty four hours from now, I'll be walking around the finish area of the San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon as a newly minted half marathoner.

I'm excited to run, and only a little bit nervous about it, if only because I think I've done a good job training for the race by following my six-week plan to about 90% compliance.

I learned over the summer that unless I actually write down on my calendar the exact training session for the day, I'll get lazy and decide not to decide what to do (run? bike? swim? both? all?) and the day will get away from me.

Prior to signing up for the half marathon, the farthest I'd ever run in one go was 7.1 miles. Knowing that my goal for 2009 is to complete a half Ironman (or as the marketers now call it: an Ironman 70.3), I decided to end my 2008 season with a half marathon just to prove to myself I could do the distance. I signed up seven weeks in advance, so that gave me time to plot out my schedule to slowly increase my weekly long runs from 7 miles up to the 12 mile run I completed last Sunday in advance of tomorrow's 13.1 race.

My training routine has been to run four days a week:
  • Tuesday: 4- or 5- mile intervals
  • Thursday: 3-mile intervals
  • Saturday: 4-mile pace runs
  • Sundays: long run, adding one mile to distance each week
My results are that by taking it easy in the training, I stayed relatively injury free. I'm now capable of running my half marathon below the 2:00 mark I'd dreamed of when I started (and I think I might get to 1:50 if all goes well).

As I've built up my base level of fitness (a year ago, I couldn't even do a 10k without having to walk chunks of it), I've now been able to start concentrating on technique, and that's really helped me keep from getting bored out on the road.

And I've learned the power of ice baths to keep the pain down on the day after my long runs, too. Last weekend's 12-miler was a great reminder that I have to make sure to fuel up on Saturday (I ran slow because I hadn't eaten enough day before) and ice down on Sunday (I was sore Monday morning).

So, today I'm taking it easy, watching what I eat and that I eat enough, and already looking ahead to my final event of the season: the olympic-distance SF Triathlon at Treasure Island on November 8.

Come Tuesday, it'll be time to get back in the pool and replace long Sunday runs with open water swims in the Bay.

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