Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thoughts on training for a half marathon.

Now that the half marathon is behind me (and the planning for my next one is still in front of me), I've had a little time to reflect on my training. I've also talked a little (OK, a lot) to my friends who ran the race and we all came away from the race with a) an awesome experience and b) lessons learned for the next time.

My half marathon pals! Bridget, me, Amanda, Suzy and Janis.
1. Eat early, eat often. I had a certain number of jelly beans that I had planned to eat during the race. I trained eating that amount so I knew when and how many to eat. But I failed to eat them all. I finished the race with about half of my jelly beans left. Big no-no. My leaden legs over the last three miles have those leftover jelly beans to thank.

Next time, I will follow my fueling plan better and eat earlier in the race.

2. Speed kills. Starting too fast = finishing too slow. OK, yes, I beat my goal. However, my last three miles were not pretty. I was DONE and I think that, in addition to #1, starting faster than I planned to hurt me.

Next time, I will try to start a little slower so I can finish a bit faster.

3. The course matters. The 13.1 NYC course was loopy -- literally and figuratively. We ran past the start line twice, not including when we started. Seeing the same things over and over was not good for the mojo.

Next time, I will look for a course that is not so repetitive.

4. Training plans should be written in pencil, not pen. I followed a 12 week plan that I created based on what I thought my goal for the half would be, back when I was still building my base. The first four weeks of the plan were perfect but then I started to feel the need to modify things a bit as my fitness increased. My body and systems had changed; my plan needed to change as well. I still followed my plan, I just tweaked it so I could keep moving ahead rather than stagnating.

Next time, well, next time I'd do the same thing: Follow the plan but not be a slave to it.

5. Mile repeats are where it's at. You may laugh but I'd never really had much use for mile repeats before. I just never liked them. Thought they were too hard. Well, duh! That's the point of speedwork, is it not? To be hard, to prepare you to run fast during your race. I ran them during this training cycle and while they were tough they weren't too tough. They were doable and they gave me a boost of confidence after every session. And, best of all, I think they helped me run well during the half marathon.

Next time, I'll do more mile repeats and maybe even bump them up to 1.5 or 2 miles.

Those are my lessons learned. I'm sure there are others that I haven't acknowledged yet and I'm sure there are lessons that others have learned that I -- and others -- could benefit from. So if you have a good lesson learned that you'd like to share, lay it on me and comment away!

(And, remember, if you're in the HRHMChallenge, leave me a comment with your race report by Friday!)

~ Felice

17 comments:

RunningOnCoffee said...

Great lessons to take away from your half!

Here's my race report. I ran my 3rd half on Sunday and PRed despite some killer hills:

http://running-on-coffee.blogspot.com/2011/04/race-report-my-third-half.html

Running another (on a flatter course) in about 6 weeks, I think! :)

Samantha said...

So smart to do a re-cap like this. It's great to learn from your experiences. Congrats on the last one and good luck with the next one! :)

speedygeoff said...

Mile repeats sound good. Must try them one day.

One thing I have learned from racing marathons and half marathons is, you can always learn something new every time you race a marathon or half marathon.

S Club Mama said...

Alright, I'm still learning lingo around here - what's a mile repeat? I feel like I should know this but keep in mind that I just started doing sprints...I'm just learning lol

What was your plan with the jelly beans? No Gu or Cliff or anything? I need some tips and something that could save me money (especially on leftover Easter candy with discounted prices) would be so nice.

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

Great lessons to take away. I learned the same thing with the food on my first half. I didn't eat as much either and paid for it in the end...I also started out too fast...its all first time mistakes that we hear so much but the excitement of it all gets ya. I have to try those mile repeats...training for my first marathon. Never really like them but I think maybe I'll try... Look forward to reading more.

J said...

I posted on Sunday about my 15k and then I added more miles on...Total 13.1 miles in 1:46:25 (over two days - Saturday and Sunday).

I hate mile repeats but you are right - they really help get you in good shape for a half!

Marlene said...

Definitely agree with all of this! It took me a while to figure out that I needed to Gu early and regularly, no matter what. Same goes for hydration. Drink BEFORE you're thirsty.

I'm also a big proponent of longer intervals of 1600 to 3200. This is what you need to do for long distance!

Congrats again on your race and looking forward to finding out what's next.

The Caldwell Family said...

Thanks for this list! I know I have to work on speed in training next time. I definitely let that component slide. One key learning for me was to know the course and to incorporate the toughest part of the course into my training (it helped that my race was local). If the course is not local, I will still plan to understand the terrain and to find similar challenges for my training runs. It helped me to maximize my effort and stay focused knowing what the course would do and where there would be relief in the twist & turns uphill of the last mile. I was also prepared for the water treatment plant part of the course and knew exactly how long that stretch was so I could focus and get by it as fast as possible.

Denise said...

always a great thing when you can come away from a race learning a bunch of stuff. i think formulating an eating plan and sticking to it is so hard. yet probably the most important. some days my body just doesn't want what i planned for.

Darlene said...

Great lessons. Mile repeats are something I know I should do...maybe next time!

Kara said...

I totally agree with #4. I keep my training plans as an open doc in Excel and shift things as needed. You never know when the baby might start fussing the stroller and you have to cut a run short!

Laura said...

Great lessons...I am of late so bad with starting out too fast. I have to focus on my next few long runs to keep a slow start. I am such a slow learner....

merrymishaps said...

Glad you had such a great race! You'll figure out what works for you :)

Finally got my recap up: http://merrymishaps.com/2011/04/race-report-happy-runner-half-marathon-challenge/

Also, I should be in weekend miles rather than half-marathon category. Thanks for hosting!

Candice @ I Have Run said...

Not sure if I love your race report or your lessons learned more. Let's call it a tie. I am still basking in the glow of your happy half!!

Amber said...

What are those green socks you are wearing? Do they help with soreness. Looking for something for my longer runs. I'm currently training for a marathon and am on Week 9. Thanks!!

The Happy Runner said...

Amber, they are CEP compression socks and I LOVE them. I really would recommend them. I've worn them on most of my long runs and during the race and I really think they helped me recover faster than I would have.

Suzy said...

ITA with #3! The race was too close to the finish line. The other points are great reminders as well.

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