Let The Training Begin

I’m alive. I swear. I might have gone missing for close to two years, but I am back and perhaps more determined than I ever have been.

Remember when I swore I would run a half marathon in 2014? Well, I didn’t. But I am making that promise again and this time I plan to keep it.

I used to be able to run fast and  long. Well, long for me. Not the kind of long that I want to be capable of. Then I stopped running regularly and focused the majority of my fitness attention on lifting weights. I lifted, I lost, I kept lifting, I plateaued, I fell off, I gained a little here, I lost a little there, and so on. Oh, I also moved too… out of the country. I live in Grand Cayman with my boyfriend now; the same one that helped me lose weight when I first started this blog.

I have yet to find the perfect balance of running and lifting, but I am getting there. A little over a month ago I made the decision to just do it; to just start running again. I think what kept me away from it was the fact that I knew I had fallen off and was afraid of how hard the first months of training would be because I’d been there and I’d done that. And it wasn’t fun. But I knew that if I just dove in reminding myself that it is OK to run/walk at first, and it is OK to not run for time but for distance, then I would get back to where I was slowly but surely.

And it is slow. But it is also sure.

I have dedicated my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to running at least a 5K, and then filling in the remaining gaps with lifting and some yoga. Unfortunately, it gets hot enough here that if you don’t run bright and early or after the sun sets, you’re likely going to have a miserable time. So, I started by doing the majority of my runs on the treadmill (“dreadmill” more like it) at the gym, with the occasional dip into the heat. Each week, I would try to add another half mile or so to gradually build up my distance, until accomplishing the 5k distance became, well, easy. So far my longest has been 5.3 miles. I typically start around 5.8 speed and end up at 6.0. Not fast, but again, distance – not speed.

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Running on the dreadmill can be an absolute drag, so I always cover up the screen with a towel to avoid focusing on the numbers. If I look down thinking “I must have run at least 3 miles by now” only to see that I have only gone 2.2, my mood will be shot. Staring at the numbers ticking away can break the run, so the habit of covering the time and distance has helped me a lot. I also never listen to my playlist in the same order so that I can’t estimate how far I should be, given the song I am on. I try to psych myself out by switching to the next one halfway through, or starting a song over before it ends, so that I eventually stop paying attention to how many minutes of music I must have listened to.

After the 5k got easier, I decided it was time to get my butt outside. Some people say that you’re always faster outside than you will be at the gym. So, one completely odd day, I ran 4 miles in the morning on the dreadmill and then decided to run again in the afternoon (do not get used to this). We have one car so I brought it to my boyfriend and ran home. To my surprise, I kept the 3 miles just under a 10 minute pace. 9:58/mi after already running 4 in the morning? I’ll take it.

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After having a pretty successful start to my new running journey in March (25.5 miles run; 22.5 of which was done in about 2-2 1/2 week’s time), I set a goal of 40 miles for the month of April. Well, in less than three week’s time, I surpassed that goal with a total of 41.25 milesI have 3 more distance runs to go this week, so I am hoping to add another 10 at least. But, if this week is anything like the last three weeks, I am guessing it’ll be a little more than that.

I went for my second outdoor run on Friday around 6:15AM. There is a golf course right next to our apartment that has the perfect 5K route, and a couple of side streets if you are feeling ambitious and want to detour to rack up a bit more distance. I completed 3.1 in 30 minutes, or, at a 9:41/mi pace. I was satisfied with that, though I would obviously have preferred a faster time.

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There are two half marathons that I am eyeing: the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Brooklyn in October and the Rochester, NY Half in September. Not sure which one I am going to do yet, but I am determined to rack up my miles in the coming months to prepare for whichever I choose!

Let the training commence!

 

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I WILL run a Half Marathon this year

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It’s time to find a balance. I struggle with finding a good combination of lifting time and running time. How does one become both a body builder (of sorts) as well as an accomplished distance runner?

I love a challenge – it’s when I perform my best. During the month of February, my goal was to run 35 miles. That won’t sound like a whole lot to the average distance runner, but for me it was a challenge since I spend just as much time – if not more – doing strength training. I met that goal and have set my next at 40 miles during the month of March. 

Somehow, it’s only the 6th of the month and I have already run 11/40. Off to a good start, I’d say!

First of all, I have upped my warm-up distance. I used to do a mild .3-.5 mile on the treadmill or the elliptical to get warmed up before lifting. However, I recently started to run a mile as fast as I could. This week I have accomplished some of the best mile times I ever have! Yesterday I did it in 7:29, which is a little less than a minute faster than my best mile time from just a month or two ago. Running the distance at a faster pace – whether it’s just the mile warm up or a longer run – is becoming easier and easier by the day. Even though a mile isn’t too long, the speed will help with conditioning and being able to last longer distances.

Usually I do the bulk of my running after I have lifted (unless it’s just a running day). By the time I get through with strength training, the majority of my energy is drained and I can’t put as much into my speed and mileage. This is why I need to find a balance. I need to find a way to give both types of workouts my best, rather than feeling exhausted for one or the other due to pushing it hard on the first.

I truly want to try running a half marathon at some point this year.

There is a race in Hartford, CT in October that has a great course according to some of my runner friends. I am confident that I can get there if I can find the right balance and training routine. My fear is focusing too much on one thing and losing on the other. I know that to an extent, my strength training will likely suffer during the heavier running months, but I guess that comes with the territory.

Another struggle will be pushing myself to increase my distance appropriately over time. The other day I ran 4.53 miles and felt like I could have gone further – I haven’t run that far since track in high school! I was getting so used to – and too bored with – running a certain distance on the treadmill and then telling myself “ok, that’s enough”. You can only cover so much distance on a treadmill before the feeling of not going anywhere just gets flat out boring. However, it’s too cold out and icy for me to get back to running outside.

A friend of mine sent me a suggested half marathon training schedule where you add a mile to your “big run” each week up until race day, and my brother told me that I need to be running 15-25 miles a week when it comes down to the serious half marathon training. So, while my goal for the month is currently 40 miles, I’m thinking I may need to reevaluate and set weekly goals instead.

Any suggestions?