Race Training Has Begun
July 14, 2017
As of Monday, July 10, I have officially begun training for the Rock 'n' Roll Montreal Half-Marathon which is a pretty big deal since I haven't trained for anything really this year. I've had a hard time sticking with training plans recently which has led to some pretty challenging half-marathon attempts. Since I signed up for the Rock 'n' Roll 3-pack tour pass this year, I know I've got two races left to go so I'm hoping this training period will go a little better than last fall.
UPDATE: Montreal was a brutal race but I set a new PR in Las Vegas!
The first step was to find my ideal training plan. If you've read my guide on "How to Start Running" you may remember that I'm partial to the training plans created by Hal Higdon which are available on his website. My weekly mileage is still relatively low considering the average for distance athletes so I tend to stick to the novice training plans (I'm hoping to upgrade to intermediate for my next half though!).
Starting the Novice 2 training plan from Hal Higdon also means incorporating more than just running which is pretty much all I've done in the past. I'm not sure I've built up enough of a pace to push into more traditional "speed work" but the plan does include Pace Runs every other week which should be enough of a push to give me an edge in Montreal.
An article from Active put it perfectly stating "If establishing a distance base is the cake, speedwork is the icing." Speedwork can have massive benefits on your performance but it also takes a significant toll on your legs. There's a lot of different recommendations for when you should incorporate speedwork into your training but the consensus seems to be when you're comfortably running at least 25-30 miles per week.
Since I'm at about half that distance currently, I'll be staying away from sprint workouts, but I had my first pace run this past Wednesday. Although not a full-on speed workout, pace runs are a great addition to training because they give you an opportunity to practice a bit of speed without dialing up the intensity of your run too high. The idea of the pace run is to run the specified distance at your goal race pace which has its own benefits.
Perhaps the most significant thing, and probably the most obvious that I noticed on my first pace run was that it forced me to consciously think about my pace throughout the entire duration of the run. Typically when I run, I just go out and run. That's it. Occasionally I'll glance at my watch but I just run at an effort that feels comfortable so I know I can maintain it. I'll admit, going into the upcoming race season, I'm not really sure what my goal pace is so I somewhat arbitrarily settled on 8:30, slightly slower than my PR but slightly faster than my most recent attempts.
Once Wednesday arrived, I spent the day planning my route and obsessively checking the weather which was hovering in the low 90s with the threat of severe thunder storms. There was no way I was running on a treadmill so I was praying I'd get a clear window to run in. I wasn't so worried about the rain but I was definitely worried about the heat and humidity. Although I was drinking plenty of water throughout the day, I decided to bring a water bottle with me just in case. Even if I didn't need it to drink, I could at least throw some over my face/neck to cool off mid-run.
So I got to Oyster Bay, took a few minutes to warm-up, and was off on my run. I gradually settled into my typical pace, and then slowly increased my speed to something a little less comfortable. I didn't want to run fast enough that I gassed out midway through but also was curious what kind of pace I could maintain for 3 miles. A few minutes in, I checked my watch and was hovering closer to 7:30 pace. I was listening to music which was definitely an influence b I tried to slow myself down a bit. Especially in the beginning, I kept amping back up but was able to find a pretty good rhythm.
It took a lot more focus than I originally thought it would to maintain a specific pace. I'm so used to just going out and running that I had to actively work at staying consistent on the run. My final pace was a 7:56 and I wasn't completely spent afterward which is a good sign. I don't think I could maintain that pace for a whole half but I'm going to do my best to keep training at close to that pace at least once every two weeks. I'm hoping it may even be a little easier once it starts to cool down in the fall.
What races are you training for? Why does your weekly training schedule look like? Do you incorporate speed-work into your training? Let me know in the comments below!