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Posts Tagged ‘running camaraderie’

Jason Asman, Melissa James, Laura Sievert and Michelle Bickhaus at the Thanksgiving Turkey Run

When I started on my training plan for the Little Rock Half Marathon I told my friend Jared that I would write little weekly updates to tell everyone how my training was going.  Well friends, I didn’t do it.  I meant to … but I was busy. Mostly I was busy running.  So instead of weekly updates, I’ll share my training with you a month out from my first half.

I guess when you sign on to run a distance race you expect that it’s going to be tough, but when it’s 4 months away, time to train seems unlimited. Life’s like that, isn’t it?  One day you’ve got 4 months to train, and the next you’re staring down a short calendar and wondering how it became February so fast.

I’ve learned a lot of really important things about running over the course of this training plan that I’d like to share.

The biggest surprise of training is how much short runs do for overall fitness.  My plan consists of three- 3 or 4 mile runs a week and one long run on the weekend.  I didn’t know that the gains you make in those little runs could translate into being able to keep going for 9 miles, but it turns out they really add up.

Good advice.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to take a day or two off and you can’t beat yourself up about it.  I’m starting to know the difference between pains that are just soreness and pains that need rest.  Several times during the past few months, I’ve needed to move a run around or go for a shorter distance when I just didn’t feel right.  I also had a lovely week vacation from running when I managed to get some kind of upper-respiratory-walking-pneumonia crap that was going around my office.  I was very upset about getting behind on my training while I was sick, but after I got back on my runs, I really hadn’t lost much ground.  The key is: Don’t Panic!

I’ve learned that it’s important to run with people who have been running a long time.  They’re a wealth of knowledge and sometimes can give you one little tip that makes all the difference.  For example, my friend Jared noticed that I was bending at my waist when I ran uphill.  Simply learning to stand up and to shorten my stride has improved my hill running immensely!   [An aside: he also told me to “love hills.” I haven’t reached “love” yet, but I am swearing at them less, and I think we’ll put that in the win column.]

I’ve learned some new vocabulary since I’ve been training.  “Tempo” in particular is becoming a bit of a dirty word…  I’ve tried tempo and speed work several times on my own, but my first really good tempo workout was actually just last night.  For those unfamiliar, tempo runs are designed so that you run an easy pace your first mile, then slightly faster each subsequent mile.  This is easier said than done!  I ran my tempo run with my friends Dave and Denise yesterday.  They’re both experienced runners and they selected a great 1 mile circuit for this run.  Quincy is conveniently laid out in a grid, and our route was neatly divided into quarter miles.  The reference points made judging speed much easier.  Dave had a stop watch and we made adjustments to achieve the speed we wanted for each lap.  During my solo attempts at tempo runs I was only checking time every mile, and that just wasn’t working.

I’ve learned recovery is something you have to plan for.  Long runs were kicking my butt in the beginning.  I’d run 7 miles one day and then feel like I couldn’t walk the next.  Well, the fact of the matter is you have got to have a plan for getting the kinks out.  My post-run routine now consists of some targeted stretching (particularly in my hip flexors), a foam roller for my calves, 20 oz. minimum of water and usually some juice or something too, and ice if I need it.  Also, a brisk walk can do wonders to alleviate overall soreness.  Oh! And bananas.  I eat lots of bananas!   Sometimes I even eat bananas on peanut butter sandwiches.  Mmmmmm …

4 feet are better than 2.

I’ve learned that I’m a runner who needs a partner as often as possible.  Even if we’re not talking, I really appreciate having someone else close.  Some runners love the alone time and enjoy clearing their heads on the road. I’m just not there yet.   When I’m alone, I spend a lot of time thinking of things like where I’m sore, why I’m still not very fast, if I can make the distance, or whether  8.3 miles is good enough if I’m aiming for 8.5.  When I’ve got a running partner, I actually can clear my mind better than if I’m alone.  We talk a little, and run a lot.  Having a partner is like a spoonful of sugar to help the miles just go down.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to tackle the road with a clear head, but for now, 4 feet are better than 2.

On any given day a run can feel wonderful, terrible, long, short, frustrating, or triumphant.  My half marathon isn’t very far away, and I think I’ll be alright.  I’m starting to believe I can do it.  What I’ve really learned is just to keep making a little headway each day. Continual forward progress.

Little Rock: T-minus 30 days and counting…

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