Thursday, April 19, 2012

HM Training

That's right. J & I have decided to run a half-marathon. It's still crazy to think about really. Had you asked me this a few months ago, I would have said never. And even a month ago this wasn't totally on my radar.

So here's a the low-down on our half marathon. I warn you, it's a bit lengthy...


Well, at the beginning of March I started to track my workouts. And by doing this, it really did motivate me to get to the gym more often. And the more I worked out, the better I felt. And the better I felt, the more I pushed myself. On the morning of my 26th birthday, I decided I needed to prove to myself that I wasn't getting any older and decided to push my normal 5 mile run to 6 miles. I felt sooooo good after - I think mostly from the accomplishment.

The following week I pushed myself to run 7 miles, and again, I was so shocked that I did it, but felt great! That is what really got me thinking about it. After a little research I landed on It's a pretty cool website where you can search for races by state and it gives a training schedule to follow. Although I was a little behind on the training schedule, it didn't deter me from considering a local race in mid-May. I'd catch up. :)

There's a funny thing about timing - sometimes it couldn't be more perfect. There is a local running shop, South Boston Running Emporium, that I decided my next pair of shoes would be purchased from. I've been running in a pair of Nike Frees for the past 11 months and it was high time I got myself a better pair of sneaks. Growing up we always bought our sports equipment from a small local shop for two reasons, better customer service and better knowledge on the equipment. It can be hard to find those small shops these days though (thanks Walmart) and so throughout college and into my post-college running career, I began hitting up whichever chain store I was near. And though I always asked about my arches, how I place weight on my feet, etc. I could never get a straight answer. So I stuck to my tried and true Asics (whom I still adore). But when purchasing new sneakers last spring, I got caught up in the Nike Free phenomenon. Disclaimer- I realize many people love these shoes, and I had many great runs in them myself. But they just are not the best pair of shoes for ME.

So with that, I made my way to the SBRE last week to support the local guy, and hopefully take advantage of his running knowledge. Back to my sentence regarding timing, the day I planned to visit the SBRE after work, Life of Blyss posted this blog post. And I found it SO interesting. According to the VDOT tables Alyssa discusses, using the pace I ran last year's Harpoon 5 miler at - 8:50 - I should be running my longer runs at a 10:45 pace. WHAT?!?!?!? Crazy talk. I'd been running around a 9 minute pace outside and just assumed that I should be running all my training runs at the pace I'm hoping to race at.

Well, after Bill (at SBRE) had me walk around his store without shoes on to study how I my feet shift weight on them, checked out my arches, and fitted me in a couple different pairs of sneaks to choose from, I asked him about this pace difference. And although he had not heard of Jack Daniels (whom Alyssa references), he agreed 100% with slowing down your long run pace. As he stated, your pace should be a minute and a half to 2 minutes slower than your race day pace. His formula went a little something like this: the terrible twos = too much + too fast. Your risk of injury greatly increases. (Disclaimer for Bill - please don't treat this as the Bible to training. Do what works for you).

NOW I know why my catch up run in Florida went horrible. :) Old shoes, the ridiculous wind I ran against for the first 3.5 miles, and a too fast of a pace. But, a new pair of sneakers and some running advice later, and I'm back on track.

The goods: Brooks Ravenna 3 for me & Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 for J

Imagine my excitement when the shoes that fit me best were accented in PURPLE! :)

I have to say, slowing down our pace worked wonders for J & I. Oh, also, please note that J had not been running 7 miles at the gym for a couple of weeks before deciding to run with me. He simply turned to me after we both got fitted for our new sneaks and said, "well, it looks like I'm running a half-marathon." This seriously amazes me. Running is a terrible mental game for me. I can't imagine just deciding to run like that.

Anyways, back to our run. I mapped out 10 miles around our neighborhood, studied it the night before and the morning of to memorize it, and we set out on our slow run.

Pre-run jitters

I have to say, running a slower pace is hard work. I recommend timing your run, and being somewhat aware of the whereabouts of each mile in order to make sure you've kept a slower pace. It's far too easy to get in the zone mentally. We had to remind each other to slow down a few times. I think we were both so surprised to feel good after mile 6 that it was too easy to want to pick up the pace. Before we knew it, we were at mile 8 where we had placed a bottle of water in J's car, but decided not to stop and just finish strong. Our final time: 1:34.18, pace of 9:39 (total run of 9.77 miles)

So maybe it wasn't exactly a 10:45 pace...but it was still 40 seconds per mile slower than a normal run so I was extremely happy with that. And if you don't believe Jack Daniels or Bill at SBRE about running slower...check out this article from Runners World or read below. (or check it out here in a pretty diagram)

Measuring Your Effort
Train at the right pace to make sure you're race ready

Type of Run:
Pace: 90-150 seconds per mile slower than 5-K pace
Heart Rate: 65-70% of max heart rate
Perceived Effort (1-10)*: 3-4 (easy)
Talk Test: You can speak complete sentences

Pace: 90-150 seconds per mile slower than 5-K pace

Heart Rate: 65% of max heart rate
Perceived Effort (1-10): 3-4
Talk Test: You can speak complete sentences

Pace: 45-100 seconds per mile slower than 5-K pace
Heart Rate: 88-92% of max heart rate
Perceived Effort (1-10): 5-6
Talk Test: You can speak short sentences

Pace: 20-40 seconds per mile slower than 5-K pace
Heart Rate: 94-96% of max heart rate
Perceived Effort (1-10): 7-8(hard)
Talk Test: You can speak a few words at a time

SPEEDWORK (800s, 1200s)
Pace: 5-40 seconds per mile faster than 5-K pace
Heart Rate: 95-100% of max heart rate
Perceived Effort (1-10): 9 (very hard)
Talk Test: You...can'

*Perceived effort is measured according to the Borg Scale, with 1 being the minimum effort (sitting on the couch) and 10 being the maximum effort.

And how'd I look after?

Ready for more!  

(do you like our wedding invitation display on the wine fridge :)?)


Gloucester, MA's Twin Lights Half-Marathon on May 12th. 


We have been following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 training schedule with a few *tweaks*. But I am going to save that for next weeks Fitness post. This one is WAY too long already. 

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