Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I Learned from Half Marathon #5

After my major goal races I like to spend some time to reflect on what I did right or wrong and what I learned from both the race and my training. These posts are primarily for myself so I can go back before my next race and be smarter next time, but they are also written with the hope that maybe they will help somebody else. As a somewhat new runner I love learning as much as I can from other runners. This post will consist of both tidbits from training and the race because I think both are equally as important.

1. The more I run the more I like running
When I first started training I was so scared of running 6 days a week. I quickly found out I loved running 6 days a week. Having only one day of not running made the day after my rest day feel like I was so rested. Running so often made my runs feel more like a necessary part of my day. My day wasn't over until I got my run in. When I dropped down to running 4-5 days a week I found I struggled more to get out the door.

2. It's okay to have a little fun during race weekend
When I got an invite from Nike to attend an Ellie Goulding concert the night before the race I'd spent the past 4 months training for I was torn. I wanted to go to that concert so badly but I wanted to have a great race even more. I knew the right thing to do was to spend the day resting. When I got an invite from Nike to meet Ellie Goulding after the concert I decided I didn't want to give up this opportunity. I spent the whole day Saturday wondering if I had made a really stupid decision that would cost me my race. In the end I think going to the concert was the mental distraction I needed.

3. Running with other people, especially during long runs, is invaluable
I do 99% of my training by myself and I'd say 90% of the time I'm okay with that. I've been finding myself getting more jealous when I see others running with their friends though. I did a few of my long runs with my dad riding alongside me and the time flew by. My class schedule didn't allow me to go to the group runs hosted by Charm City Run but I will definitely be taking advantage of them in the fall. Even a bad run with others isn't so bad. It sure beats a bad run by yourself.

4. The race isn't over until you cross the finish line
When the race ended up being much more crowded than I anticipated I almost gave up on my goal because I thought it would be too hard to recover from such a slow start. From the first mile up through mile 13 I thought there was no chance of running sub 1:50. With less then a half mile left I realized how close it would be. Crossing the finish line with no clue whether I had met my goal or not made it so much sweeter when I looked down and saw my time. I felt so silly for thinking it wasn't possible the entire race.

5. 16 weeks is a long time to train for one race
For the first month of training I was insanely motivated. I went out of my way to make sure that I didn't miss a run and was loving every minute of training. The end of February and the beginning of March were kind of rough for me. The weather sucked and school was making it much more difficult to fit in training. I have never trained for so long for one race so I was not sure how to stay motivated for 16 weeks. At the same time I think the longer training cycle really helped and took some of the pressure off of trying to cram for a race in only a few weeks.

Training since January

6. I have a lot to work on when it comes to confidence
I ruined quite a few runs because I psyched myself out. I've been working on becoming more confident with my running and in general but I still have a long way to go. We'll call this a work in progress.

7. Long runs are not so scary
Going along with the confidence thing, I had a lot of trouble with my long runs again this training cycle. Just calling it a "long run" was enough to stress me out, even if the distance was something I could handle easily. After a few mentally and physically challenging long runs I had one that showed me running long can be enjoyable. I was relaxed and didn't worry about my pace. I finished that run with the biggest endorphin high I've ever had as well as the most running confidence I've ever had.

8. There will always be people faster than you. Don't let them intimidate you or make you think 
you aren't good enough
This is also a confidence thing. At the start of the race I was surrounded by people who looked so much faster than me. They looked like real runners. I was supposed to be in a slower corral but moved up based on what I had trained for. So many girls tried to tell me to go back to the slower corral though. I actually considered it before I realized I deserved to be there just as much as they did. I worked my ass off in training.

9. Be over-prepared
This is pretty self-explanatory. I can be a little OCD at times and brought everything I could think of for this race. In the end, I never needed something that I didn't have. Packing success!

10. Training will never go completely as planned. Expect setbacks
A few times during training I got all dramatic and thought I ruined my race because I missed a workout or didn't hit the paces I was supposed to. In the end this made me work even harder. Regardless, training will never be perfect. Bad runs are just part of the program. Accept them and move on. More importantly, don't let them dictate how the rest of your training goes.


  1. Linked over from Twitter. I completely agree with all of these! Congrats on hitting your goal! That's amazing. Long runs really aren't so scary once you get into them.

  2. I struggle with confidence too. I can't believe other girls were telling you to go to a slower corral! That's "mean girls" type behavior, and kinda surprising for an all women's race. I'm glad you had enough confidence to ignore them and stay put.

    1. From high school and college I've discovered girls can be quite bitches sometimes. I was shocked at the time. Thankfully the race started only a few minutes later so I didn't have to stand there with them for long

  3. Awesome job!!! Love long solo runs, gives me a break from all of the chaos that is life ;)

  4. Setbacks must be accounted for...look at me, I didn't train for 2 months leading up to the race, but I still finished! Thanks to my running partner, that is. I wish she lived closer to actually train together. Partners win!

    1. I am in desperate need of a training partner. Not enough college students train for long distance running races!