As I mentioned in a previous post I’m signed up for a half marathon in Moab this year and am hoping to set a new half PR of something-under-1:40. Well, I’ve reached the point where race day is now only 8 days away (ahhhhh!!!!) and I figured I’d talk a bit about my training, and then we’ll see in a week how effective it actually has been!
I realized about 6 weeks out that I should probably do some race-specific training rather than sticking to 5k training till the day-of and then going out like a wild woman for 3 miles before collapsing. Even if the fitness is there, some actual race-pace training is always a good idea! I searched around online for intermediate 13.1 training plans (i.e., wanting to race/hit a goal time in addition to finishing) and decided on this plan from Kara Goucher that was posted on the Oiselle site. I wouldn’t always trust an Olympian to write a good ‘normal person’ training plan, but this one appeared to do a great job of balancing tough-but-doable workouts with a reasonable amount of mileage. The plan starts off with the expectation of some base having been put into place, with a fartlek workout in week 1, and then moves to ½ marathon pace work at week 5.
Since I only had 5 weeks before my race I hopped into the plan at week 6, figuring my trail season and cross-country work would serve as a fine substitute for the initial 5 weeks of workouts. Luckily I was correct and the transition to half marathon workouts went pretty smoothly. Honestly, I might recommend a little bit of speedier work leading into the ½ marathon workouts since the switch to a more relaxed pace balances the intimidation that comes with the introduction of the longer, more tedious workouts.
I steadily worked my way through each of the written workouts, plus weekend cross-country races on weeks 7 and 8. I’m trying to keep up some 5k speed so the races served as good short-but-hard efforts that balanced well with the more tempo-type half marathon workouts. With the lower mileage plan (peaking at 33-50 miles depending on which level one picks – I picked the lower mileage plan) 2 hard efforts didn’t wear me down too much. I just completed the final big workout with a 7-mile tempo run – my longest since college!!! – and am excited to test out my fitness next weekend.
The one other thing that I did to deviate from the written plan was to add a few miles onto the written long runs. The 10-week plan’s long runs start at 5 miles and peak at 11 miles. Since I was already doing 10 mile long runs when I would have started the 10 weeks I was able to gradually add miles without overdoing it and included four runs of 12-14 miles over the last few weeks. I’m dropping down to 8 miles this week, as suggested by the plan, and with a few longer runs in my legs and a nice taper I’m confident that I can make it the full 13.1 miles at the very least.
The last factor going into this race is hydration and fueling. I’ve been taking a gel for practice on some of my long runs since I won a full box of them at one of the trail races and my tongue and stomach handle them fine. I just did a race-pace fueling and drinking test during this week’s 7 mile tempo and everything went smoothly other than one inhaled mouthful of water. I’m thinking gels at 4 and 8 miles should be adequate since they’re 32g of carbs and those markers should give me about 30g per 30 minutes as recommended. I’ll bring one extra in case I start dreaming of bagels at mile 10 but don’t think I’ll need it. My main worry is water – I don’t often get a chance to practice drinking out of cups and am worried that a choking sip every 2 miles at the water stations won’t be enough to keep me hydrated. It’s also nice to be able to sip the water over a longer period rather than gulping it, and cups don’t seem conducive to carrying water along for sipping over a half-mile or so.
I carried a half-full soft flask bottle from my Salomon pack during the tempo this week and it worked great…but only holds 250 mL when half filled for comfortable carrying at race pace. Based on the fact that I drained the half-bottle during the tempo plus warmup/cooldown 250 mL seems like only enough for about 9 miles of comfortable sipping. I’m also a little concerned that my arm might get tired and then I’ll be annoyed to be lugging the dang thing. I’m planning to run with it again on my 8-miler today so that should give me more info. Maybe I’ll carry the bottle and then switch to cup sipping at the miles 8-10 water stations if needed?
Any good tips from the long-haul runners out there re: carrying bottles and/or drinking out of cups? Will I actually need that much water or is the constant mild dehydration induced by living at altitude making me paranoid?
I’m alive! And I’m even feeling well enough to eat an obnoxious amount of potatoes with onions, bacon, and gravy.
I was not entirely sure this would be the case when I went to bed last night. At the time my head was still pounding viciously and I was experiencing waves of nausea that I feared would worsen to full on vomiting overnight. Luckily sleep is magical and I have awoken cured! *insert much dancing and joy*
My disastrous evening was a very unpleasant reminder of the importance of hydration, even when running in the cold/rain/snow. Here’s the steps to take if you also want to enjoy several hours forcing down liquids while trying not to cry and/or puke:
1) Don’t drink anything all day until an hour before your run. I had maybe 1 cup of coffee with breakfast and then forgot to drink anything until 1pm. Oops…
2) Pack water on your run but barely sip it because it’s cold out, and you don’t feel that thirsty. Also, don’t drink at all the last 4 miles because it’s downhill.
(You can’t really tell, but it was snowing when I took this shot)
3) Make sure you pick a super gnarly long run route and then be sure to run it under time pressure because you left your spouse on the side of some dirt road in the sagebrush so he/she could get some hiking in and are expected to pick them up at a set time that assumed running far fewer hills. I think the stress, and added pressure to not stop for water really helps.
4) Drive around for an hour afterwards. Try to avoid drinking because you are very tired and digging your water bottle out from between the car seats is hard.
5) Congrats, you should now be feeling super un-awesome! If you just can’t handle it, reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is a wonderfully helpful distraction from the agony. Also, try drinking copious amounts of warm decaf tea – this won’t help immediately but the hydration will kick in eventually.
6) If this particular adventure turns out to not be for you, luckily fluids, a warm shower, and sleep should usually bring you back to normal. And you’ll now be much more conscious of how to avoid turning into a sad, shriveled human prune.
Decided it’d be a good idea to do a morning long run today. Usually morning long runs are my favorite kind of run – it’s cool out, I get to start the day out with a lovely supply of endorphins, and I get to watch the sunrise. However, I didn’t factor in the fact that I haven’t really slept well the last few days, I didn’t really eat anything besides a smoothie and a sandwich yesterday, and I didn’t hydrate much so I was already so dehydrated when I woke up this morning that I felt too nauseated to finish my pre-run slice of toast. Needless to say the run was a little rough!
I’m glad I got out and did it, but it was one of the toughest 9-milers I’ve done. Pretty sure I was sweating straight salt by mile 5. I ended up having to take little regrouping breaks every mile after about the 4 mile mark – not ideal for a long-run day, but it let me finish the run. By mile 8 I was starving and starting to cramp up from dehydration. Luckily I’d planned ahead and had stashed a gel and water bottle 1 mile out from my car. I don’t think a vanilla flavored gel has ever been so heavenly! Chugged half my water bottle and gulped down the gel, and spent my last mile sloshing along in a state of (slight vanilla barfy-ness filled) bliss.
2 more long run til my half marathon! Hopefully I’ll get in 10 – 11 next weekend, and then a 12 miler for the last one. This crummy run was a great reminder to be more disciplined about my pre-long-run fueling and hydration!
In spite of the struggles, today was a perfect day for a long run – cool, breezy, and the first hint of Fall colors in the leaves of the cottonwoods along the trail 🙂
So apparently everyone in my little workout group has a greater sense of self-preservation than I do. It was 101 degrees out when the workout was supposed to start and I was the only one to actually show up and risk heat stroke ha ha.
I ended up doing a workout on my own anyways, since I new I’d never get back out the door if I went home and waited for the sun to go down. A fartlek in the shade (with the ‘off’ portions strategically timed to coincide with breaks at the two park water fountains) served me well and I only feel *slightly* dehydrated.
Ok, so I totally chugged a whole bottle of gatorade when I got home…plus a smoothie…and a bottle of water :S
Interesting sights on the run included a girl running in a sweatshirt and sweatpants (how the heck are you not dead?!?), a little group of old-man runners with awe-inspiring matching white beards (I really hope I’ll be running still at that age!), and this sign:
The workout: 3 x 800m (400m Recovery), 400m for turnover (distances via GPS watch), averaged 7:30 pace during the ‘on’ portions (I’m going to use the long grass, heat, and hills as my excuse ha ha)