When I was in my 20s, I got into plenty of dumb stuff. One of which being endurance running. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the long-distance life. I have zero complaints or lasting injuries despite what nay-sayers, well, say. The “dumbness” wasn’t in the hobby itself, it was in the way that I approached fueling and training for events.
I did EVERYTHING wrong…
In late 2007, an old acquaintance from High School posted something on FaceBook about wanting to do the Virginia Beach Yuengling Shamrock Marathon. Always a sucker for a road trip, I did the math and figured 4 months was more than adequate time to plan an epic trip and teach myself how to run.
Yes, you read correctly. Teach. Myself. How. To. Run. (Filed under: Feigned Bravado, sub-section: “How hard could this possibly be?”).
To be honest, at the time I could comfortably run 3 miles recreationally. But that doesn’t negate the fact that I was not “that kind” of athlete, like, ever. I was the cheerleader in High School. I was the desk jockey semi-permanently seated in corporate cube-scapes. I was the cardio junkie at the YMCA jamming out for 90 minutes on an elliptical trainer. By golly, I did not feel like securing all this action enough to safely navigate around the perimeter of the gym on the running deck.
SO, I started running, semi-seriously. In Michigan. In December…
Sage Advice vs. Me…
Recommendation: “15/20 miles/week for 4+ Weeks before starting a Half Marathon Training program.”
Actual: Bought running shoes, but did not want to soil them until 10 weeks prior to the race.
Recommendation: Train under the same conditions you’re forecasted to perform under on race day.
Actual: I lived in the super hilly regions of the arctic wasteland that is Michigan for 4-6 months out of the year. The race was in temperate, sunny Virginia Beach, VA and offered a super flat and fast course with minimal changes in elevation.
Recommendation: Run a shorter distance, like a 5K, to acquaint yourself with the dynamics of running in a pack.
Actual: Yell YOLO extra loud whilst inputting card details into race registration website.
Recommendation: Fuel your body for your workouts.
Actual: Use random intake tracking phone apps to make sure body is in constant caloric deficit. Skip meals, obsess, log every little bite of celery… by golly WEIGH YOURSELF EVERY DAY… GAAAAH! End up exhausted because not all calories are equals.
Things did not look promising for our young heroine…
At some point, I decided to sign up for a ChiRunning workshop in Chicago. The coach looked at me and said I would never finish. He predicted that I would injure myself midway through the race because I did not “respect the distance.”
He made a point to humiliate me in front of the class. Not that I wasn’t fully capable of doing that on my own (let’s just say there was a clear reason WHY I drove 3 hours for a ChiRunning workshop – my running stride was somewhere in between a newly birthed calf and the fat kid in gym class).
If it weren’t for the encouraging words of my sweet boyfriend at the time, I would have never even started that race.
You know what though, running coaches be darned, I finished that race strong. If my memory serves me correctly, I finished in 2:38:15. I was 100% healthy and injury free when I crossed the finish line.
The only injury incurred on this trip was Yuengling induced. So, I’m still calling it a win.
If at first you don’t… die… try try again…
After the Shamrock Half Marathon, I went on to finish 20+ endurance races in the 3 years following. It turned into an addiction.
I actually broke my foot at mile 10 of the Portland Marathon, climbed up on some hipster’s porch to have him use packing tape to smash my foot back together enough to finish (and a mimosa, but who’s counting), and managed to land the first place trophy for the Bonnydale division.
I was so displeased by my first marathon finishing time, that I duct taped my foot back together and did the Grand Rapids Marathon just 2 weeks later.
Point is, I’ve never actually trained for any of this madness… properly. Basically, I was pretty much a dirtbag try-hard that just happened to have a thing for picking up and putting down her feet for 1-5 hours.
Let’s give this a go again… the “right” way…
So, here I am again. A while back I hit the “register” button on a half marathon I’ve been itching to try again in October. Only this time I’m poking 40 with a short stick wondering if my heart is going to stand up to what I’m about to put it through.
I guess we shall find out…
It has been nearly 6 years since I ran with any intent other than killing an hour questioning Spotify’s algorithms whilst trying to avoid any unnecessary chafing. I am presently 60+ pounds overweight. My one-mile time trial last week was 13:42… so, my pace is shameful (at best)…
Let’s just say, I have some work to do!
So, where does someone whose fitness level is hovering in the high 0’s on the scale of 0-10 start out?
Back in the day, Hal Higdon’s sound advice and training schedule carried me through what is possibly the closest season of “training” I endured. I was by no means stringent about adherence to the plan, but I at least would make a point to make the recommended distances “happen” regardless if they were in 4x400m format or fartlek-y enough.
I am a firm believer that if anyone can get you to the finish line, it’s going to be Hal.
The reason I always choose Hal is that his plans all encourage more cross training and less running than the other plans. I find that offering my body a variety of means to regain endurance and strength is imperative if I plan on remaining injury-free.
For the next 6 months, I’m going to be following a combination of Hal’s 10K Novice plan, a few weeks of just routine “maintenance runs/cardio,” and the Half Marathon Novice 2 plan to help me get my mileage up in preparation for conquering an October Half Marathon.
In addition, I’m going to focus on fueling myself in a way more productive manner. Instead of adopting another restrictive diet that doesn’t work, I’m going to focus on quantifiable goals like “eat 10 servings of veggies” and “drink 100 ounces of water/day.” By realigning my focus to what I have to have rather than what I can’t have, I feel like I’ll be setting myself up for way more success than the other way around.
More on this later <3. I have some ideas a-brewin’ <3.
SO, if you happened to find this random post, please feel free to drop a comment below with a grain of encouragement and/or advice if you have it <3.