I ran my first 10K race on October 17 last year and that was the first time I had ever trained properly for anything and the furthest I had ever run. Almost exactly a year later I am planning a new challenge: my first sub-2hr half marathon in Cardiff on October 16. This shall now be known as my runniversary.
I have started referring to this event as my runniversary, firstly because I thought it was kind of funny, but secondly because it reminds me that I have only been running for a year and reminds me that I have actually acheived quite a lot. Sometimes it is hard to maintain perspective after a bad run or a much needed lazy week, and I think that runners have a tendency to be a little too hard on themselves at times. Being strict with your training and being honest about your effort is, of course, important, but I find that chastising myself for running too slow after a long day in the office is quite counterproductive, especially when you take into consideration how exhausting our day-to-day life is. (Cutting a run short so that I can watch Hollyoaks on the other hand is just unacceptable. It hasn’t happened that often…)
With this in mind I decided to make my own training plan for my runniversary race, one that addressed what I do well, what I want to improve, how I enjoy training and what would be a new and sustainable challenge.
The things that I do well are turning up for prearranged runs, such as my weekly club run and parkrun. I therefore decided to build the plan around those. Because they are fairly short distances compared to the half marathon I am using them as tempo runs, the 5K parkrun being at least 8:20min/mile and the 5-9mile club run being at least 9min/mile, hopefully building up to 8:45min/mile.
The thing that I want to improve is threshold training. I used to do this on a treadmill, but as hard as I try I just don’t like the treadmills in my new gym. They are quite old, and rattly and feel really unstable! Also they don’t have a very good speed interval setting and so I find myself fiddling with buttons whilst running awkwardly fast. I have been trying to do these session outdoors on my own, but it’s hard. Not just because the session is hard, but because it’s so easy to slack off. Therefore I have decided to start going to the weekly threshold training with my club. I was worried that I would be one of the slowest there, but it is fairly mixed ability, and anyway, who cares? We’re all trying to improve.
Finally, the big challenge facing me in my runniversary half marathon was the endurance. Whilst I have racked up two HMs already this year, my split times show that my pace drops dramatically after 10 miles and that it why I keep missing my sub-2hr target. I therefore want to complete this race at an even pace. To do this I am making the most of having recently run a HM and have tried not let my fitness levels drop. My weekly long runs have been at their shortest 10 miles and I will hopefully complete a few 13-milers before the big day.
Aside from these running sessions I have also tried to accommodate my life and the training hurdles I have come to expect. Firstly, regarding my life, I sat down with my diary and built the training plan around my holiday, friends’ birthdays, and busy periods at work. My training feels much more relaxed having done this. Yes, I have missed a couple of long runs whilst on holiday or suffering with a pre-planned hangover, but I knew that I would and so it won’t interfere with my overall schedule.
Secondly, regarding the hurdles, I have started doing some regular stretching and swimming alongside the running. After pulling my hamstring earlier this year I have suffered really badly with overly tight calves and have found it difficult to build my speed back up. A recent physio session confirmed that the problem is actually much worse than I thought (rock solid calves apparently, as well as overly tight hamstrings and tight muscles in the small of my back that have altered my posture), but these problems can be rectified by a few more physio sessions and some proper stretching routines. Therefore I have started swimming regularly again after a year or so away, and also plan to do a series of yoga poses regularly (I am hesitant to say daily).
So what does a normal week of training look like these days then?
5-9miles @ 9min/mile(hopefully down to 8:45 at some point)
|Swim before work||Threshold session, alternating track and hill||Rest||Parkrun
5K @ 8:20min/mile
|Long run 10-14 mile @ 9:20-9:40 min/mile|
Looks managable, doesn’t it? So far it has been good, and I have pretty much stuck to it, which is an improvement on previous plans! We’ll just have to wait and see if it pays off though won’t we… Just 5 weeks to go!