On Running Two Half Marathons in Three Months

Classic stolen race photo! Also, can't you just FEEL the relief in my face??!!

Classic stolen race photo! Also, can’t you just FEEL the relief in my face??!!

This weekend’s half marathon was … interesting. I felt OK consistently throughout. I finished the race feeling awesome and I didn’t cry like I did at the end of the first one. But I didn’t do as well. Or I guess I didn’t run as fast. I mean, 5 minutes isn’t a HUGE difference, but still, you’d think I’d be able to run it faster? Or maybe instead of improving speed, I had more success improving my endurance? So maybe I should be proud of my finish because I’ve made huge improvements in my ability to endure 2 1/2+ hours of continuous physical activity.

I could also start listing things that went wrong the day of that maybe affected my performance. Like how my shoes and socks were wet at the start. Like how my right calf felt like it wanted to cramp starting at mile 5 even though it didn’t actually start cramping until mile 11. Like how I discovered a hole in the lining on my left heel of my shoe two days before the race. Like how there was WAY too much stuff in my SPI belt and it kept flopping against my back and I had to adjust it every 2 miles. Like how my Spotify playlist kept wanting to play the same 5 songs over and over again, including the three songs I thought I had deleted the night before. And how it just … stopped … at mile 10 so I had to finish the last 5K in silence.

But those day-of nuisances aren’t enough to affect my performance that much. Here are some long-term issues I’ve thought of for why things didn’t go the way I wanted:

  1. My training sucked. I chose an intermediate plan as opposed to a beginner plan. Perhaps that much in only 12 weeks was too much for my inexperienced legs to handle. I mean, for heavens sake, just over a year ago I couldn’t even run to the end of my block, and here I am running TWO half marathons in three months!! Maybe if the training were longer? Or had less mileage? Or more speedwork? Or I stuck to it 100%?
  2. My diet sucked. Sometime in the spring I discovered that it seemed as if no matter what I ate, I wouldn’t gain weight. I kept testing that and it kept being true … until the last few weeks. Add to that two trips within two weeks of each other, a summer of doing literally nothing, and my diet went from reasonable with small splurges to unreasonable with small healthy elements. Body parts are getting squishier. Pants are snugger. You know the phrase “you can’t out-run a bad diet?” Yeah. That.
  3. My attitude sucked. I went into this with a “whatever happens happens” kind of plan, and an assumption that no matter what, my time would just automatically be faster. Only, as the summer progressed, my pace got slower and slower and slower. I blamed the weather. I blamed all the times I read “you can’t run your easy/long runs too slow!” I blamed my diet. Really, my brain just didn’t care and I just didn’t bother pushing myself.

So now what? Where do I go from here? How do I address these issues?

I have three more races on the schedule this year: a 5K in September (that I’ll be walking with my family), a 10 mile in October, and a 10K in November. At this point, my plan is to start doing more speedwork, more cross training, and get my ever expanding rear back to the gym for strength training. Also, I’m going back to My Fitness Pal to start tracking food again to get back on track. I’m sure once I start working again I’ll be so busy during the day it’ll be easier to stay on track and avoid mindless munching.

When it comes to half marathons, I’ve already been looking at plans for next year. I found a half marathon that I really want to do, and I found a great, 16-week sub-2:30 plan that includes all kinds of intervals and speedwork. I’ll be forced to put a lot of effort into actually PUSHING myself. But I’m not allowing myself to even THINK about it until February of next year. Right now my focus is on my last few races and getting my eating back on track.

Besides, I got a new pair of fancy Mizuno Wave Inspire 10s that I can’t wait to start breaking in! Motivation, thy name is bright yellow running shoes!

When you have a bad race after months of training, how do you analyze what may have gone wrong?

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