When you’ve finished marathons, it’s easy to be cavalier about a 13.1-mile race. You remember those 20-milers during marathon training, and remember what it’s like to know that you can run a half-marathon on the fly, without any extra training or tapering.
You know who doesn’t remember marathon training? My legs. My last marathon was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve sprained an ankle, broken my wrist nearly in half, and spent several weeks sitting out of all activity because of the latter. And this week, as I eyed my training plan for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend, I had a major revelation: I need to train for this race, and it’s time to lose the cavalier attitude and start running.
Here’s what my first official training week for the race looked like:
Monday: Swim 3,000 meters: 1X1,000 warmup; 1,800-meter pyramid set [on :15 rest: 1×50 > 1×100 > 1×150 > 1×200 > 1×250 > 1×300 > 1×250 > 1×200 > 1×150 > 1×100 > 1×50]; 200 cooldown
Tuesday: 3X1 mile on the treadmill. Started each rep at a comfy 8-minute-mile pace, finished at a nauseating (for me, right now) 7-minute-mile pace.
Wednesday: Lift, hard, for 45 minutes, including leg presses, squats on the BOSU and lots of core stuff.
Thursday: Hill workout on a day of record-breaking heat in D.C. My hill workouts usually involve me warming up by running roughly a mile from my apartment to the bottom of North Portal Drive, then running up North Portal (elevation gain of about 50 feet over roughly .4 mile) a few times. My goal for the three hill reps on Thursday was merely to stay below 9-minute-mile pace—and not to keel over from heat exhaustion. I succeeded on both counts.
Friday: 3,000-yard swim.
Saturday or Sunday: 8-mile run ((shudders involuntarily)). I run five or six miles most Tuesdays and Thursdays with my running group, so on its face, this seems simple. But my only other post-surgery attempt at a run this long came in May, and left me plodding for the final miles, spurred to keep going only by my running buddies, and the promise of a Nutella latte at the end. Cross your fingers for a less ego-shattering experience this time …
For more information about my cross-training-heavy training plan, check out my love letter to the FIRST training program.