My big goal for the first half of 2013 is to break 2:00 in the half marathon. I have spent a good amount of time over the off-season looking back at past training logs to see where I can make improvements. My running journey hasn't been conventional and lucky for me there are lots of areas I can improve upon in hopes of chasing down my goals.
When I ran my 2:03 half in October I was in the middle of marathon training and had done a 16 mile long run less than a week beforehand. I hadn't done any kind of speed work in almost two months and was only running 3-4 times a week. Despite all of these faults (plus so many more) I still dropped over 5 minutes for a 20 min PR in exactly a year.
My plan going into this next training cycle is to fill in these gaps and keep evolving my training. It will be a long time before I reach my full potential with running but I know the more I do right each training cycle the better I will be as an athlete.
Working with a running coach
This is really so big it deserves another post (soon!) but I'll start here anyway. After chatting back and forth via Twitter I have found someone who is willing to help me chase down my goal of a sub 2:00 half marathon. I have been wanting to work with a coach for awhile now and I am confident that I have found someone who can meet all of my needs. I am used to working with coaches from my days as a swimmer and I know that I work considerably better with instruction. I'm really excited to see what I can achieve with my new partner on this journey.
During my past training cycles I ran pretty inconsistently. Some weeks I ran 5 times while other weeks I didn't run at all. While training for the New York City turned Harrisburg Marathon I ran 3-4 times a week but my mileage varied a lot. I didn't know how to properly train for a marathon and made a lot of mistakes. I know that finding my sweet spot and staying consistent will be a big part of training. But this doesn't just apply to running. Doing a core workout every few weeks is really not all that helpful. Being consistent will not only help with the physical but also the mental, which may be my weakest link.
In all my years of being an athlete I have learned that if I put too much pressure on myself for a race then said race will most likely go horribly. Since I can do multiple half marathons in one season without needing too much recovery time I am planning on doing a mid March half to practice for the real thing. I also want to add in 5K or 10K here or there to gauge to fitness and see how close I am to my goal.
Core & strength work
I started doing regular strength work over the summer and almost immediately saw how much it was helping. It was right after I stopped strength training that I developed a strain in my quad that sidelined me from running for a week. While at the ortho for the strain he told me that my core is not strong enough. Developing a strong core is important for both injury prevention and getting stronger as a runner.
Do the little things right
These are the things that I know I should be doing but still neglect. I'm bringing my foam roller out of the corner and putting it to good use. Rolling coupled with stretching, compression socks and adequate sleep will hopefully help me recover quickly and properly to ensure a healthy and strong training cycle.
Clean up my diet
I may have eaten a few too many cookies over the holidays. Oops. As long as the cookie binges only happen during the holidays I should be okay. I've experimented with cutting out dairy and want to eat around 90% dairy free. Also, more veggies and less processed crap. It's time to start eating like an endurance athlete and fueling my body properly with healthy and wholesome foods.
Work on the mental aspect
This is probably the toughest thing for me in all parts of my life. As a swimmer I was constantly overcome with negative and self-destructive thoughts. My mind tends to cave long before my body does. I got a Believe I Am journal for Christmas and will be putting it to the test to help me overcome some of these mental barriers.