Half-Marathon Musings

I’m about 5 weeks in to my half-marathon training schedule for the New Bedford half, and so far so good! This whole “training” thing is new to me. I’ve run a ton of 5k’s, but never properly trained for them. I didn’t do tempo runs, focus on my splits, I didn’t do speed intervals, I didn’t do hill work – nothing. I just ran, and somehow, I seemed to get faster. Now, I am no speed demon, that is for certain. I’m still working on a sub 27 min 5k. My latest attempt earlier this winter was a 27:30ish, and I’d love to get that down to 26:30. the longest I’ve ever run in one stretch was about 7 miles, so I’m looking forward to when I finally reach long runs of 8+ miles (in weeks 8-12). For someone like me who is very organized and regimented in other aspects of her life, I’ve enjoyed having a set schedule of workouts I should do and miles I should run. I’ve learned a lot so far – here are some of the things I’ve figured out throughout this process. 

  • Increased mileage = increased carb cravings. I’ve been craving carbs like it’s my JOB. Bagels, chips, cereals, bread, pasta – give it to me! I’ve been eating oatmeal as my breakfast almost everyday for the last week or two instead of my usual yogurt. I think my body is just craving the carbs. I’m giving in to these cravings for the most part, but definitely in moderation. I’ve heard other bloggers talk about gaining weight during marathon training, so I want to avoid that at all costs.

I was craving one of these all day today!

  • I am not flexible. Before I started this plan, I thought my flexibility was about average – I can touch my toes, but I can’t do a split. I basically found out a couple weeks ago that my hamstrings are NOT even close to being as flexible as they should be. A common issue with runners, I didn’t think this would be a problem for me. As my mileage went up, this became a problem. I’m now working on making my hamstrings and hips more flexible with the help of my chiropractor. It’s bad when my non-runner boyfriend is more flexible than I am. He can put his leg over his head when lying down….me? Not even close.
  • I run better on the weekends. It has a lot to do with the fact that I sit at a desk all day. My hips get tighter, my muscles get colder, and my back hurts more. On the weekends, I usually run after I get up and do some things, not after sitting down for 9 hours.
  • My shoes are awesome. So far, Brooks haven’t let me down. I ordered a new pair of my Brooks Ghost 4’s a week or two ago. They’re bright green and awesome.
  • I have a new boyfriend, and his name is Garmin. I am in love with my Garmin Forerunner405. I got this as a Christmas present from my parents and it has changed the way I run. Pace? Mileage? Splits? All on a watch?! WHHHATTTT?!
  • I’ve made more changes to my running plan than I thought I would. I am currently following Hal Higdon’s Novice half-marathon plan. I did this one because this is my first half-marathon, so I didn’t want to push myself too much and cause an injury. I’ve been injured a few times from running so the last thing I wanted to do was get too far in over my head with training. I’ve been following it pretty closely, but I’ve also been incorporating my own changes. These include doing my long runs on Saturdays usually instead of Sundays, taking a spin class on Wednesdays as my “2 mile run or cross day”, and adding treadmill workouts such as speed intervals or hill repeats on some of the weekday running days. Some things I have stuck with: Friday as rest day, and Monday as stretch and strengthen days. I will have to see how the spin class works with my body as the mileage increases. The spin class I take is 60 minutes long and kicks my butt! If I start to feel burned out, that class may have to go.
  • I’m having fun.I thought that this whole training thing was going to be such a chore, but so far, I’m really enjoying myself.
  • Weather sucks. I’ve never trained for a race during the Boston winters before. During earlier winters I would just run outside when it was nicer, and stick to the gym when it snowed/rained/did crazy Boston things. Now, running anything longer than 4 miles on the treadmill sounds dreadful. I did 5 miles last weekend at the gym because it was snowing all morning. It ended up not being horrible, but something I wouldn’t want to have to do on a regular basis. I love running outside, even when it’s cold, but running in the snow doesn’t seem like something I’ll be doing any time soon. Snowy/icy sidewalks scare me.

  • I need to learn to slow down during my long runs. My goal pace for the race is about 9min/miles. If I can keep that, I will finish just under 2 hours. While a time goal isn’t a huge deal to me during my first half, I’d like to think that under 2 hours is possible for me. But I need to slowwww down during my long runs. I’m running them way too fast. Now that I will cross my “comfort” threshold of 5 mile runs this weekend, I need to focus on being a little bit slower and steadier. I do NOT want to get injured because I rushed through a ton of miles.
  • I’ve gotten pretty good at snot rockets. When I run, my nose runs. This seems to be a common thing that happens to some people when they exercise, called exercise-induced rhinitis. My sinuses just flow freely when I exercise, especially outside when it is cold. I’ve gotten really good at the “plug one nostril and blow out the other” technique for getting rid of excess mucus. I know, it’s not very lady-like, but it’s a necessity for me. Otherwise, breathing out my nose is impossible.

I have about 7 weeks to go in my plan before the New Bedford Half. I’m getting really excited and can’t wait to dominate. The race is St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and being Irish, my roommate and I are thinking about donning all green for the race.

Readers, have you ever trained for a race? What marathon plan did you use? What did you like and not like about it? Do you run in the cold?


3 thoughts on “Half-Marathon Musings

  1. Yes, yes, and heck yes! I agree with so many of these, from Garmins to snot rockets. When I started training with longer runs, I too started craving carbs (mainly sweets) like a crazy woman. Thankfully that has died down… a little.

  2. I am planning on running my first half marathon with my husband in November, the Disney Wine and Dine, or something like that. Anyway, I love the details you include here. I am currently scheduled to do my first 10k in June and reading this, I really want to sign up for a couple 5ks before then. This is great. Keep up the hard work!!

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