a little and a lot

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Slacker's Guide to Half Marathon Training

I potentially made a very stupid decision about 4-6 weeks after coming home with Rhet.  I decided to train for the one and only long distance race that I have ever run: the St Jude Half Marathon.  (I'm starting to lose count, but I think I've run the half four times and the full once since 2004.)

It's not that I dislike other races...it's just that I'm poor and lazy.  (Too much money and energy to travel anywhere besides Memphis for a race.)  In fact, Nick thinks I'm crazy, but I would love to run the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco one day.

The St Jude half is perfect.  The training season starts just as the weather is starting to cool off.  It ends just as the weather is getting really cold.  Perfect race day weather starts in the low-40's and finishes in the mid-50's.  Plus, running for a cause (for THIS cause) is about as great as it gets.

But let's revisit the notion of my potentially stupid decision.

The half marathon sold out in July.  (I was residing in a different country at the time, so I could have cared less.)  Not long after returning to Memphis, I started getting the race itch.  There's something about fall being right around the corner that makes me want to plan out a race training schedule.  And so I did.  Even though I wasn't registered.  I thought to myself, I'll just train for this thing for fun and maybe someone will drop out at the last minute and give me their spot.

And then I woke up and realized that I was an idiot.  Why would I do that to myself in the first months of being a new mom?  The time commitment.  The energy.  The organization.  What was I thinking?

Well, I was thinking that I love running and how it makes me feel and the sense of purpose a training schedule provides with everything in it's place and how I can indulge in a little more ice cream and chocolate milk for the sake of my caloric intake and how I don't want to lose my identity just because I'm a mommy...

Then, opportunity drove a hard bargain.  My friend Martha needed to relinquish her spot and asked if I wanted it.  Oh man.

So I made a decision to train like a slacker.  And I've enjoyed it so much that I am going to have to give myself a serious kick in the butt to train any other way in the future.

It's no secret that I'm a slow runner.  No, I am a sloooooow runner.  Think of someone you perceive as being a slow runner and then slow them down about 2 more minutes per mile.  I heart the distance races because endurance trumps speed.  (Well, it does for a slow person like me.)  I was jazzed to receive a BOB running stroller from some amazing friends at a baby shower, because I knew it finally made my slow running legit.  Who's going to make fun of a slow running lady when she's pushing a stroller?  Well, I'm not sure, but no one I need to care about, right?

PLUS, have you seen how awesome these BOBs are?  (Beast of Burden, fyi)  I'm pretty sure the shocks on my stroller are nicer than the ones on my car.  We're talking smooooooth.  Throw in the handlebar console add-on and I've got a place for my water, keys, chapstick, and iPhone.  I kind of MISS running without it!

My Slacker's Guide to Half Marathon training entails these simple principles:
1. You are training to MERELY finish the race without getting hurt.  (Save the PR for another year, buddy.)

2. Run for minutes, not miles.  Hal Higdon tells you to run 6 miles, you run 60 minutes.  (And if you run slow like me, you will be finished before you were supposed to be finished.  Repeat after me: NOT cheating...just slacking.)

3. Here comes the beautiful part: No matter what happens, complete your entire run by running 10 minutes, walking 5 minutes, and repeating.  Oh, what's that?  You missed the first 4 weeks of your 12-week schedule and now you're mega-behind?  Just follow my slacker plan and no one gets hurt.  Jumping into a regular 4-miler nonstop when you were only running 1.5 is a quick way to get shin splints at best.  But running 40 minutes the slacker way?  No problem-o.

4. Don't beat yourself up about missing a run here and there.  You can walk the whole race if need be. (Remember?  It's for a good cause.)

Sure you're going to finish with a slower race time, but your knees will thank you for it.  And c'mon...it's still a half marathon!

I am loving this year's training so much because I am really just doing what I can and not stressing about the rest of it.  Rhet and I go out two weekday mornings per week and she naps while I put in my running time.  (Autumn colors, cool breezes, and falling leaves--SO lovely!)  On Saturday or Sunday afternoons (whichever is less busy or has nicer weather), I head out with Rhet or occasionally solo and enjoy the long runs on the Greenline.  She loves to people watch and bob her head to the Nike+ music while I'm huffing and puffing along.

Last week, as I made plans for the end of the race schedule, I decided to bump my long run up from the prescribed 80 minutes to 120 minutes, since I knew the whole race was going run me close to 3 hours.  Because I was slacker-running, it was doable (without injury).  (And I got in about 9 miles!)  This Saturday, I'll go for 2.5 hours.  Instead of seeing it as this huge challenge, I'm enjoying the luxury of my free time!

So there you have it...running for slackers.  Let go of your inner perfectionist and embrace what you can enjoy!


Jane said...

I like it! When I become a mom (or maybe even before) I may adopt your method here. :)

Unknown said...

This sounds similar with what I'm doing with Couch to 5K! Do what you gotta do, I say.

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more