I can’t believe that I’m in my 6th week of half marathon training. Which in turn means… I’M HALF WAY THERE! (Side note: does half way to a half make it a quarter? haha) Ironically I’m not freaking out as much as I was 6 weeks out from T-Day. It all feels very different. I guess in training for my first triathlon I was training for the complete unknown, where as now I’m just training for well… a whole lot of running. I’ve also been making it a point to keep myself focused on one week at a time which I find is helping to keep my anxiety relatively low. I guess I haven’t really come to accept that I am actually going to run thirteen point one freaking miles in 6 weeks. Alright, saying that out loud may have just raised my anxiety level a little.
In training for my first half marathon I’ve been learning all sorts of new things. But sorry if you are reading this thinking I’m going to be a wealth of knowledge, tips and tricks. The truth is that I actually have NO idea what I am doing here. I’m just flying by the seat of my running pants, learning as I go.
Paces & Long Runs
It was just my luck that I got my first GPS watch for my birthday right before I started half training. I must have had about 3 or 4 near death experiences that first week because my eyes were glued to the little screen and not paying attention to the cars about to squish me. I felt like I couldn’t control my pace. Too fast, too slow, I was the Goldilocks of the running world.
I’m finally getting a hang of it (for the most part). Suddenly my runs feel like they have a purpose. Warm up this mile, maintain this pace, it’s like a game to me. I’m also finally starting to understand the concept of long runs. Increasing my mileage every week seems incredibly daunting at first, but somehow it’s not as bad when you get so caught up in conversation that before you know it you’ve already run 5 miles. Yeah, that happened.
A New Food Group
Never in my life did I ever think I’d reach a point where I would be working out for so long that I would actually need to refuel. I was given some GU for part of a birthday present (You’ve reached a new point in life when THIS is an exciting gift) and I have to admit, the shiny silver packages intrigue the hell out of me. I felt like I was being handed some sort of illegal substance. Can I just tear into one at home? Should I try it alone? What is it going to do to me? What does it taste like? To a former fat kid they appear to be fun little packages of frosting. From what I hear- they are not. I did however get to try my first sport beans the other day and the idea of being told to eat candy so early in the morning was pretty exciting. I was however disappointed when I did not turn into a swift cheetah upon swallowing them.
Back to Basics
You would think by now that I of all people would understand the importance of proper nutrition and stretching. Training for my first half marathon has put both completely into perspective. When I eat crap all weekend, I feel like crap on my Monday run. Maybe I should have learned this earlier, but it finally rings true that what you put into your body affects your output. (Rocket science, right?) When my nutrition is great and I’m properly fueled I feel like I could run forever. When it’s not, I struggle to make it a mile. Lesson learned.
I’ve also come to realize that I’ve been quite the half ass when it comes to stretching. Turns out just going through the motions doesn’t really do much for you. And now that I’m running so many days a week I pretty much wake up with some new ache or pain every day. Enter stretching. PROPERLY. Game changer. Sometimes I even stretch on the days I DON’T run… Imagine that!
The irony is that at the end of the day- I love it. I love every part of training. Part of me wonders if I’m not working hard enough if I’m enjoying it this much. Part of me wonders if I just haven’t hit the hard part yet. Or maybe because it’s just all so new to me that it’s still exciting. I love having different routes for different runs. I love how I actually look forward to the pool now to unwind from a long week of running. I love adding up my milage, and seeing myself run further than I’ve ever gone before. I love finishing a long run and being enveloped in that warm, fuzzy feeling that makes me want to go out and do it again. Makes me want to see just how far I can go. Makes me feel like a real runner. Makes me feel a little more ready to conquer thirteen point one freaking miles in SIX WEEKS!