As I mentioned in my last blog post, my big running goal for 2018 is to finally go under 1 hr 50 for the half-marathon. My current HM PR is 1.52 which was set in March 2014 at Hellyer Park, just outside San Jose. Two years later, I came very close at Kaiser (20 seconds off a PR) and then missed by over a minute in Healdsburg. I’ve not raced a half marathon since then.
Clearly, to do something you’ve failed to do several times in the past, you need to do things differently. So here are 4 things I’m doing differently this time.
- Take a long-term approach.
In the past, I’ve set myself a goal-race a few months off and I’ve set my heart on that race. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m now fully prepared mentally for this goal to come slowly and over time. I’m prepared to work for the whole of 2018 for this, to race numerous half-marathons and hopefully to chip time off until I hit that elusive number. In the past, I’ve worked so hard and been so disappointed by failing to meet my goals that I’ve given up and changed direction to run something else. Again, NOTHING is wrong with that, but this time, I am prepared to work all year for this. I might get that goal in April, I might get the goal in December.
2. Eat like an athlete
Nutritional advice is SO confusing. If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s that sports dieticians give dramatically opposing advice, backed by what looks like solid science and with vocal adherents. It’s almost impossible to know who speaks the truth. So my plan is to:
- Get as many nutrients on my plate as possible
- Cut down on processed carbs (bread/pasta etc)
- Cut down dramatically on sugar
- Eat the good stuff
Since Christmas, I’ve managed to get myself back to my happy weight and I feel a whole lot better! But this is a year-long commitment to eating like an athlete.
3. Up my mileage
I’ve run 25 miles/week for years. Years and years. Some weeks are higher, some are lower but that’s been my average weekly mileage for 7 years. I genuinely believe I need to run further to see a step-change.
Biggest of all…
4. Get professional help.
Yep, I’ve got a running coach. I’ve signed up with an actual running-coach PERSON. I’ve tried a couple of online algorithm-led programmes over the past few months and I just can’t quite get on with them. One was too easy. One was too hard. Neither let me switch workouts around dependent on how my week looked and that’s pretty crucial for real life.
So I asked around at Run Club and a lady recommended a guy she’d done coaching with in the past. She is older than me but she kicks my arse every single week! So I did some googling, got in contact and have signed up for a 6-week trial, clearly with a view to extending. I am really really excited about this. I’ve given my coach honest information about my running history, my heart, my diet, my lack of cross-training – and he’s come back with the first six weeks’ plans and they look awesome.
I was so excited to get started…BUT THEN…I fell over.
I was at running club on Wednesday and we were charging up a little lane in the inky blackness. I’d forgotten my head torch but was running with two friends who had theirs so I just padded behind them….until I crashed to the ground on the uneven surface. They were awesome…scooped me off the cold tarmac, ran me slowly back to town and put me in my car. But when I got home, I was a bit battered. The body I lowered into a hot bath had a scraped up knee and elbow (with gratifying amounts of blood), a twisted ankle and sore outer-foot and really sore left ribs (and sore left boob).
I didn’t run for two days and then on Saturday I tested myself out with three very very slow miles. No pain anywhere but my ribs were still very sore, especially when I breathed more deeply. On Sunday, I met Nicola for some easy canal tow-path miles and I felt better. Basically, I’m healing nicely, but I’m not 100%. So I dropped Coach Jason a note and delayed the start of my trial for another week – much as I want to start training (and I really really do), I want to be able to give it my all and I think this is the wise decision.
So I have one week to continue to mend, to run slowly and gently and to get myself ready to start training wholeheartedly on January 15th!
Because…I signed up for a race
Whilst I wholeheartedly accept that it may take a long time to achieve this goal, I need to start racing at some point so I’ve been scouring the internet for a good flat half. I was looking at races as far afield as London for the right course when suddenly something struck me. A little googling and BOOM, I have signed up for the Annecy Half Marathon in the French Alps at the end of April.
Annecy is my dream town. If you asked me what I want in my perfect town it would be: mountains, lakes, skiing, trail running, a flat cycle-path along the lake, baguette, cheese, croissants, good coffee, speaking French. So I’ve been convinced that Annecy is IT for a long long time. And I am FINALLY going to go!
What’s more, whilst I was totally happy to go alone, my lovely husband is coming with me and he’ll be running the half too, with the goal of going under 2 hours for the first time! It’s going to be légendaire! I haven’t been this incredibly excited about a race for years and years and years! This may NOT be the race where I achieve the goal, and that’s fine, but it WILL be the race I train my butt off for and the race I run the best I can on the day!
1.49.59…coming for you.