Things just got serious; I have changed the units on my running app from kilometres to miles. This means that the days of 5 and 10ks are long gone, now we are talking marathons. And marathons mean miles.
Today was day one on my new training schedule, preparing myself to run a half marathon. After finding a passion for running (from somewhere) during 2014, I ran a 10km last weekend. Fresh from that experience and still on a high, and obviously not thinking straight, I went a little overboard and signed myself up for two more 10ks and then the kicker – a half marathon.
Thus far, I have been pretty much doing my own thing when it comes to running and training. And I think I have done OK up to now. As my previous posts elude to, I became vegan in January this year, took up running and shed 50 pounds. In training for my 10k, I just started to up the distance and speed of my runs gradually and combined this with strength training. I managed to do 10k in 1hr 8mins the first time I tried, followed by 1hr 3mins as I got a bit fitter, then 1hr 1min and finally 1hr 0mins on race day. But a half marathon is double that distance, and then some. I think if I am going to do this and make it sustainable, stay injury-free, improve my fitness and complete the race then I need to follow a plan designed for all these reasons. Sometimes you just can’t go it alone anymore.
Where to start?
There is an abundance of information out there, quite frankly its a minefield. Especially when you are relatively new to this. I spent ages reading training schedules, blog posts and magazine articles, following different runners and experts on Twitter and trying to make sense of the (sometimes conflicting) information.
I eventually settled on a schedule from Womens Running Magazine, which is actually a 16 week program to train to run a full marathon. However, I was also intrigued by Hal Higdon’s schedules too and I like the sound of the Half Marathon Training Guide – Intermediate. In this plan, Hal Higdon mentions the idea of incorporating strength training and stretching within the weekly schedule, which I did previously when I was left to my own devices and I enjoy, so I will add this to the schedule I’ve decided to follow as it is not specifically on there.
I am intrigued by the inclusion of two sessions of cross training per week in the Womens Running Magazine plan, which I am not used to doing but I will give it a go and see what I think. Perhaps mixing it up a bit will be good and keep things interesting, maybe I will see some different results? I am just concerned that the new schedule doesn’t have me running as far in a week as I have been doing so far. But, then again, maybe its all about training smarter to get the results. It seems like you have to find what works for you, tweaking the days on the schedule if needs be to fit your availability, but fundamentally following what is set out for you by the people who know best. If I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere fast, then I will switch to Hal Higdon’s plan and see how that works. It’s always good to have a back-up option!
So, today was day one of the program. Well, day one for me, but I have actually started the program at week 5. This is because the weeks prior to that seem to be less intense than the training I have been doing on my own up to now. I followed the first day of the program in week 5 to the letter, although it is Wednesday and not Monday so my days are out of kilter a bit, and I added some strength training and a good amount of stretching both before and afterwards. I feel great, very positive and geared up to do this and succeed! Tomorrow I should do a cross-training session, which as I said I am apprehensive about, but I will do an elliptical or bike session with some different strength work and see how it goes.
All the small things
With the training schedule mapped out and something to work on for a while, my attention has now turned to the other aspects of running. Turns out, I know very little about optimum fuelling and hydration for efficient running. I haven’t paid too much attention to it, having only been doing short-ish runs. But if I want to keep doing this and doing it well, I need to know more about it. Again, its a minefield. Carbs, when to eat them, good or bad? Water, when to drink it, how to replenish what you lose from a run and what with? What to eat before and afterwards, how long before and afterwards? So many unanswered questions.
Enter the No Meat Athlete. Matt Frazier’s website www.nomeatathlete.com has lots of fantastic articles and information on all these things and whats more, it feels like it was written just for me as it focuses on doing this on a plant-based diet. I had heard that he was going to be speaking at the 30th Annual Toronto Veg Fest which is coming up at the beginning of September (where I am volunteering, coincidentally – more on that later!) but I can’t see his name on the festival schedule, which I’m sad about as I think it would be great to hear what he has to say, especially at this stage in my journey. I’ll have to make do with reading his website and maybe download his half marathon roadmap to my Kindle for another source of inspiration.
I’m so excited to get on and do this. Mainly, though, I’m in it for the medals!