Saturday, August 18, 2012

Half-Marathon Training Update

This is week 5 of my 12 week training program before the half-marathon! I can't believe it's already been five weeks. I'm so glad I still have 7 weeks until the half, though! Over the course of the last five weeks, here are some things I've learned:

- I can get better at running! When I started, I was running at about an 11 and a half minute mile pace (yes, I am dreadfully slow). Yesterday, I (almost) ran my first under ten minute mile pace. Woohoo! My pace actually is improving!

- I've started to understand the concept of a mile or just the concept of distance better. I currently run around a pond that is two miles around. Now that I run that route often, I understand what it feels like to run two miles. Now I know where the half mile and mile points are, so I can think to myself "I'm a quarter of the way there!" It's just starting to make sense to me, whereas before I was thinking "Two miles? That sounds so long!"

- Running makes me feel strong. I have the strength to carry and propel myself for miles. It's just an awesome and empowering concept to run.

- Running definitely chills me out. I do still think on my runs, but sometimes I feel like because my body is working so hard, my mind can't work as hard. The harder I think, the less my body seems to move. I less I think, the better my body works. And sometimes when I run, I just get this feeling like, Wow, I'm just happy to be alive. Maybe that sounds kind of corny to you, but to me, running has been really freeing of anxiety and self-induced stresses.

- It's still really hard. I would say I'm at the point where I definitely don't hate running like I used to, but I don't really love it either. I like it after I get going, but I'm still trying to fall in love with running (will I ever? Who knows).

New Shoes! 
Love my new shoes!

Since I've run almost 50 miles in the last 5 weeks (whoa!), the hubs and I decided it was time for new shoes for the both of us. I had been using some decent shoes, but they were probably close to two years old. They looked fine, but all the cushion was gone and it was starting to become painful to run in them. We went shoe shopping and - of course - hubs finds his shoes in the first hour we are shopping. It seems he can always decide quickly and find something whenever he needs to! I on the other hand took three different shopping trips to find the perfect pair. I am pretty picky when it comes to shoes (and everything?), and since I want good shoes for the half, I definitely didn't want to settle for just anything.

I had to completely un-train myself to think in terms of style and instead think in terms of comfort while I was shopping. I tried on some of the ugliest shoes I've ever seen just to see if they were the right ones! But obviously, I will sacrifice looks for comfort on a run any day. Thankfully, the ones that happened to be really comfortable weren't super ugly, and they even came in pink and black, which go with my running clothes. I got the Saucony Grid Cohesion 5's. So far, so good, but I'm still breaking them in.


The best part of training so far has been actually seeing progress. I try to track all my runs with a running app so I can keep tabs on my pace and mileage. For me, it's so easy to feel like I'm not making any progress if I have one bad run or if I'm just in a bad mood. But when I look back and see how much I've run and how far I've come, I start to realize that I actually am progressing. It's a cool feeling to start being less intimidated by distance runs and instead think Yeah, I can go an extra mile today. Running really is becoming empowering for me. In just five weeks, I've proven to myself that I can go longer and faster than I think. It's definitely a slow progression, but progress is progress!

I'm still a newbie runner in all aspects, but I'm starting to actually feel convinced that I not only will physically make it to 13.1 miles, but that I will mentally make it there too. Running is not perfect, though. The last five weeks have left me sore, cranky, and super tired sometimes. I've had a few bad runs due to weather or being under-prepared (dehydrated, not eating enough beforehand). But right now, at five weeks, I can say that I see my progress and I'm happy with where I am now. I can only hope my next 5 weeks deliver just as much progress as the first five weeks have.

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