Thursday, June 20, 2013

Half Marathon Training

Last month's article on my running a half marathon was wildly popular, so to follow-up I'd like to share a little bit of what I did to train for it.

As you may know, August of 2011 was my... err... biggest time. I weighed 220lbs, had little to no endurance (You want me to run ALL THE WAY to the end of the block???) and I had little to no interest in exercise. My knees were driving me crazy (arthritis) and I suffered from acid reflux every time I bent over. In May of 2013, I ran a half marathon. (Oh, and I weighed in at 173lbs).

So how did I do it? How did I get from the big girl who couldn't run to the the new me, who ran 21K without stopping (or walking?)

Quite frankly, I did it with the support of my husband, and my friend Lisa.

My husband mentioned (none-too-gently) that I was done planning the wedding, I didn't have anything major to stress over anymore, it was time to start working on losing the weight. Although it hurt at the time, that push was necessary to get me going.

Lisa showed me that every little bit matters. She convinced me to try running. First it was a couple of laps, at a slow enough pace that someone walking likely could have kept up. She cheered (literally) at my ability to do that. Every little victory - another lap, another kilometre, a slightly faster pace... she was there cheering for me. It made a big difference.

We ran our first 10K May of 2012. (This was actually my second 10K but my first one was several years before, and outside of being able to run it with my mom, it wasn't the greatest experience.) I ran the whole thing. I wasn't fast, but I ran it.

We ran our second in September of 2012. Soon, we were running 10K at a time as a practice run. Eventually Lisa set her sights on being able to accomplish a half marathon. I wanted to be able to do the same, but didn't feel that I was ready yet. At this point we were running three times per week together - twice during the week and then a long run on the weekend. I decided that I wanted to up my game to try to get 'half marathon ready'. I downloaded an app (21K Runner) and started following its schedule to attempt to get ready.

So now I was running 4x/week. I did this for the first few weeks. I felt good about it, but then felt like I needed something more. I began to do arms and abs on my days in between runs. I was feeling good.

I followed the apps running advice up to the last three weeks before the race. At this point I extended the length of my long run, and cut back on running during the week. I also stopped running altogether the week before the race, to let my legs rest and heal.

I finished the race in 2h38 minutes. I wasn't going to win any records, but I had finished it, and I hadn't walked.

I'll call that a win.

I intend to do another half marathon in September, but am taking a vastly different approach. My physical activities are not focused on running - I am biking, swimming, roller blading, etc... anything to get my moving but not necessarily running. I will be heading to Iceland in August and it will be a very physical (re: lots of exercise) trip. So essentially I will be very heavy for cross-training for my second half-marathon. I am interested to see how they compare.