Weekly training recap: When hard work pays off
I know it sounds cliche, but hard work pays off. That maxim cycled through my head as I ran the Rock ’n Roll half marathon this weekend — and finished with a personal best.
I ran feeling fresh and energized. I pushed myself and was surprised when I still has some gas left in the tank in the last 5k. It didn’t hurt that the weather was pretty favorable, albeit chilly, and the sunshine was a welcome sight. Still, I attribute a new personal record time (!) to hard work, a structured training plan with some speed work and coming to know myself as a runner.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m training with the Potomac River Running group and have found the workouts to be challenging. The training plan pushes me outside my comfort zone and encourages me to run harder and faster than I would otherwise. It’s rather easy for me to mindlessly go out and run six miles on the treadmill or around my neighborhood; this training plan asks for that, but adds in hill workouts, sprints and surges in the middle of the runs. I think a lot of my success this weekend is because of those trials.
Also, at this point in my life and running career, I know myself. I’ve run about 15 half marathons and I’m aware of my capabilities and I know when aches and pains are more likely to slow me down or sideline me. I’m practiced at when I need fuel along the course and I know the value of water stops. I’m positive I can finish races, but I know when I need to pull back if it’s not my best day. I certainly don’t have this whole running thing figured out, but I have learned to listen to my body, understand its limitations and embrace what it’s capable of.
All of these things combined with a little bit of tenacity helped push me to my best half marathon ever. And it makes me that much excited to do the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler!
Here’s a look at how my week in training went leading up to Saturday’s race … hint: it required some tapering and resting — score!
Monday: As with most other Mondays, I took it a tad easier after a late Sunday evening long run. It was a 30-minute elliptical kind of day. Nothing too fancy to report here.
Tuesday: Track workout time! I followed the =PR= program’s suggested workout and did one mile at race pace and then five quarter-mile sprints with a two-minute jog in between each sprint. I did this one on the treadmill, and boy did it kick my butt! It was tough. Also, I spent a lot of time trying to remember exactly how many quarter-mile sprints I did … does anyone else lose count as much as I do?
Wednesday: Sometimes it’s tough for me to do back-to-back running days. I’d prefer to do some other type of workout between my running days, but I felt like I couldn’t push it off because I wanted to leave myself enough time to taper and rest before the race. With that said, on Wednesday morning I took to the streets to knock out my first hill workout of this training program.
It called for five to six miles containing four to six hill runs that last about one minute each. To make it more onerous, the workout called “hard up, fast down” and a one-minute rest in between hills. Just when you think you’re done after you charge up the hill, you have to turn right around and run fast back down the hill. “Greaaaaaat,” I thought. In reality, it wasn’t so bad! I chose the only real “hill” in my neighborhood … the actual Hill, or rather the sidewalk that surrounds the Capitol building. I did five hills and ran a tad more than six miles.
Thursday: With two days until the half marathon, and pretty sore legs, I went back to the gym for an easy workout. I did about 40 minutes on the elliptical to help me taper for the race. This day also included a lot of stretching, drinking plenty of water and mindful eating.
Friday: It was a rest day, but an exciting one! I went to the Rock ’n Roll Expo where I picked up my packet, race gear and shopped around too! A fun fact about me: I love expos. I’m a pretty big running nerd, so this is my scene. I love to learn about other fun races, peruse new gear options, snag free samples, test new foods, scope out the course and get pumped up for the race ahead. I’m a kid in a candy shop (sorry to borrow another tired cliche).
The rest of Friday evening was spent laying out clothing options for the morning, finalizing a playlist and resting up for the big day!
Saturday: I was up early and getting ready for the race. Again, the race itself went great, and I felt better than I have in years running that distance. I’m so glad to have another 13.1-miles in the books and feel really proud about how I did.
Sunday: You better believe this is a rest day. I’ve spent it icing, stretching and relaxing. And I’ve earned it, I like to think.
With this goal behind me, I’m setting new ones for the Cherry Blossom race based on my pace and looking forward to another chance to challenge myself. Hopefully more hard work yields even better results!