I don’t know why, but I was a little surprised when I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that I am running a half marathon this coming Sunday. Its not like I haven’t been training. In the past six weeks, I have transitioned from a reluctant jogger to an avid runner. Where six weeks ago, I had to drag myself off the couch for a 3-mile lap of Queen Anne, today I’d sooner sit through an all-day economics lecture than miss a training run. Any opportunity to pound the pavement = an opportunity to focus on myself, think things through and earn a killer runner’s high to boot. I no longer think that I have to work out – my philosophy these days is that I am fortunate to be able to work out. And the results are starting to show: my skin’s cleared up, my attitude has improved and I’m losing weight here and there while some muscle definition has begun to creep out. While some of that is a result of conscious, clean eating, I can’t deny that the amount of physical activity I participate in is helping quite a bit.
The See Jane Run half marathon will be my first half since the National Half Marathon in March 2010 – over two years ago. I can’t remember exactly how that race ended up, but it’s safe to say that I finished in around 2:30:00. Based upon recent training runs, I am set to blast that time out of the water and potentially PR during the race on Sunday. My initial attraction to See Jane Run was the promise of chocolate and champagne at the finish line; since I can’t indulge in either of those things, a potential PR will have to suffice.
I’ve mentioned before that I am following Hal Higdon’s Novice II marathon training plan for the Portland Marathon. I have almost always utilized Higdon’s plans for half marathon training for two reasons:
1) He uses distance (rather than time) to measure training runs, which calms my OCD mind and assures me I am covering an appropriate distance each week.
2) His plans use up a reasonable amount of time each week. I can easily fit three short and one long run into a week, find time for strength training and STILL have a life outside of training.
3) He advocates for walk breaks, but only as needed at aid stations (usually every 2 miles or so). Some training programs ask runners to walk one out of every ten minutes, which is too much for my race style.
While Higdon’s running plan has given me confidence that I can pound the pavement for 13.1 miles come this Sunday, there is one more component to my training program that has resulted in rapid improvement during a short time period: strength training. I have never incorporated strength training into a half marathon training program before. The result? Consistent, somewhat mediocre finish times. Sure, I finished every race I attempted, but I never got better. Since April, I have incorporated group fitness and individual strength training sessions with a trainer into my fitness routine at least twice per week. During April and May, I participated in a body fat loss challenge at Club Zum, losing 3.4% body fat in a six week time period. Club Zum offers an array of training services and group fitness challenges in a hyper-inclusive environment. I can’t say enough about how much confidence I gained during the two months I worked out there. While at Zum, I met a trio of women that would become my personal trainers and coaches. Molly, Anne and Kaisa are the trio behind Fit Body Blueprint, a company that focuses on improving the lives of their clients through nutritional support and bootcamp-style fitness. In addition to working out bootcamp-style in South Lake Union with Molly and Anne, I work out once every other week with Kaisa at Excellence Fitness. Through a combination of plyometrics, deadlifts, a million pushups and other body-weight exercises, I have gotten stronger than I have been in as long as I can remember.
I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t investing a lot of time and money into overall wellness. From now until October, I will run between 25 and 40 miles and spend four additional hours in the gym each week. Add in Paleo prep time and it’s safe to say I spend between 15 and 20 hours each week devoted to marathon training and nutrition. From the financial perspective, I have invested in new gear, classes, literature, and a completely re-worked pantry. My budget for shoes at Nordstrom and nights out is now relegated solely to personal wellness. This was difficult to accept at first, particularly before I started feeling better and seeing results. However, it’s becoming easier and easier each day – blowing $100 on a new pair of shoes seems ridiculous when I know I won’t be wearing anything but sneakers for the next couple of months and a $75 dinner with friends really has to be worth it if I’m going to potentially miss a morning workout that set me back the same amount of money.
So… feeling strong and confident going into Sunday’s race. It’s nuts to think that six weeks ago I couldn’t lap Queen Anne without stopping three times. Now, I can run the entire thing at a pretty healthy clip. I have a strong feel that Sunday is going to be a really good day.