I’m running right now.

Yes, I am currently hitting the pavement to complete my first (and probably only) half-marathon… and it’s cold outside – 25-30° cold! Seriously polar vortex, you couldn’t wait 48 more hours!

I know, I said only and I’m not even finished with my race.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy running and I’m not excited to hit this bucket list goal for myself, but my knees have taken a beating with these long runs and I don’t want to overdo it with too many miles in just a few years. I’d rather spread my miles out and be able to enjoy lots of shorter runs that don’t cause my knees to crack and clunk for days post-long-run.

I’m sure it’s probably due too many hours, days, years in the gym growing up, but my body isn’t as nimble and doesn’t recover as well as it used to!

So, I’m on the course now… hopefully at the halfway point! I figure I’d use today to share some of the tricks and things I’ve learned about myself during my running training:

1 – For me it’s always mind over matter.  I find that my mind tends to give out before my body does. I’ve never come back from a run and just felt like I was completely spend, hunched over and dying. Yes, there have been harder and easier runs but I definitely had to work on my head more than my legs.

2 – My long runs are really multiple short runs back to back.  When I go on a long run, I usually have a general target – i.e. ‘I’m going to do 8-9 miles’ or ‘I need to hit the 10’. But when I go, I mentally break it down into much smaller chunks. When I see I’m at the 3 mile mark, I don’t think – I’m a third of the way to my 9 mile goal, instead I think – ‘ok, 2 more miles until I hit 5’. Then when I hit 5, I think ‘let’s hit the 7 now’. Basically I am constantly breaking my run down in smaller pieces.

My plan going into the half today was to shoot for a 6 mile target, then from there break it into 2 mile segments – so push for mile 8, then 10 and then 12 and then from there, I’ll be in the homestretch.  If I go into it thinking I’m at mile 1 of 13, I mentally shut down so I need to think of it in “pieces”.

3 – Days are up and down.  During my training, I’d sometimes rock an 8 miler but die on a 4 miler the next week.  I’ve come to realize bad runs happen.  I’m not going to have an awesome run each and every day. And that’s ok.  I started getting painful shin splints about 3 weeks ago and tried a few more runs, but ultimately found that I could barely walk for a day after my runs. My husband and my mom told me that I should just take the last two weeks off running, so I did. I did the elliptical two times in the two weeks before this race and that is all.  Dean said, “you have the stamina built up, but if it feels like your leg is going to break with each step, you’re not going to be able to finish. Two weeks off is not going to kill your running.”

4 – Long runs can be boring.  I’ve found that mixing up my playlists and then doing mental planning is the best way for me to combat the boredom.  I’ve mentally decorated several rooms of my house that are basically blank slates. I’ve mentally thought through books I’m reading.  I’ve talked to God a lot. I’ve thought about my parenting techniques.  It’s so nice to hit the road and just let my mind go.  It’s an escape for me which I’ve really come to love.

5 – You gotta have a good support system.  I am so blessed that Dean has supported this initiative I wanted to take on.  He knew going in that it would be solo time with him and the kids on weekend mornings for months and he’s done such a great job.  They mow with their lawnmower while daddy mows with the real thing. He’s done shopping and errands with the boys while I did my 60-90 minute runs.  A lot has revolved around me having running time each week and I am so thankful that he backs me on things like this. I know I’m not always equally as gracious when he wants to play tons of golf or have ‘me time’ to himself.

I’m proud of setting and working towards this goal for myself and hopefully I can think of a new physical/athletic goal that I can shoot for in 2015.

Half marathon bucket list. Check.

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