Going into September’s half marathon, I felt like I had nothing to lose. I didn’t feel that my fitness was at the same level as when I set my PR in 2013, especially with two weeks off in August. Therefore, I figured that now would be a great time to try some new things with my training. Here’s what I learned:
I made my longest run 12 miles. When I trained for my first half marathon, I used a plan that had the longest run at 10 miles. I think this was great for my first few half marathons because it never wore me out too much. However, after years of running, I feel more confident when I can push myself in training.
My taper was two weeks long. Well, not a full two weeks, but unlike in previous training cycles, my longest run was not the weekend before the race. Since I was training up to 12 miles, I allowed a cut back weekend in between, running just 8 miles a week before the race. This was the best change I made. My legs felt much more rested by race morning.
I did a shake out run the day before the race. In keeping with the first training plan I used, I’ve always run decreasing mileage on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of my taper week. This time, I experimented with low mileage on Monday and Tuesday, resting Wednesday and Thursday, and then doing a super easy run on Friday, the day before the race. I chose to run two miles, with a few strides or pick ups, to get my legs moving. It was really good to get some increased blood flow and to get out some excited energy. At the start line, I felt looser than I have in the past.
I like a negative split race strategy. This was confirmation of what I already knew. I have always naturally run negative splits, starting slower and then building speed over the course. When it looked like we might not finish the Indy Women’s Half because of weather (and we didn’t) I made the decision to try to run with a pace group, something I’d never done before. A pace group will run a more-or-less consistent pace throughout a race to get you to a goal finish. I chose my goal time, found my pacer, and stuck with her for the first mile and a half; I then quickly decided I wouldn’t maintain that same pace throughout the race. I prefer to warm up and pass other runners as I increase speed, creating an average pace that will get me to my goal time.
With that…I’m implementing some of these lessons sooner than I had originally anticipated. After last weekend’s Great Pumpkin 10K, I decided to sign up for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon near the end of October. I’ve already put in a lot of solid training and I want to get the chance to run a full 13.1 this fall. Wish me luck!