My Half Marathon Training
A Step-by-Step Experience of how this Real-Life
Mom / Business Owner / physical therapist deals with the aches and pains, balancing a crazy busy schedule, and the emotional highs and lows through the training
March 26 -- RACE DAY!
I did it! I finished the race! 13.1 miles of running. All of this training paid off!
My biggest concerns this morning were "which socks to wear" and "where is my headband?"!
I took pictures and videos along the way, so I will certainly be posting them here asap. It was such a gorgeous course - along the coast the whole way. We ran along the 101 through Encinitas, Cardiff, and Solana Beach. The weather was overcast - perfect for running. There were multiple water stations throughout the course...there was a Cliff Gel Shot station at Mile 9. The course was generally flat, which was fantastic. I was able to get into the groove and just jam through it!
More details to come! For now, my amazing husband warmed up the Hot Tub for me...so I'm going to jump in and soak up this accomplishment!
March 25 -- Week 11
Here we are...Tomorrow is the big Run...13.1 Miles.
I did a short 3 mile loop yesterday and took today as a complete day of rest.
I'm going to eat pasta this afternoon and then a light salad with chicken for dinner. I'm planning to get a good night sleep because it's an early morning that we have to ALL get up for! We will have to wake up the girls and get them out early in order to drop me off at the starting line. Patrick, my husband, is such a great supporter...I know he will get me out the door on time and then he plans to take the girls to breakfast. I'll see the at the finish line!
March 19 -- Week 10
ONE WEEK TO GO!
I logged a 10 mile run today! It's a bit closer to the actual BIG DAY than I would prefer, but I figured I could recover in one week. Mentally, I needed to know that I could do it; and physically, I wanted to prepare my joints and soft tissues as steadily as possible.
I did my standard warm-up, drank my vitamin electrolyte drink, took a bottle of water with me, and planned to do my 5 mile course twice. I took Niko with me for the first five miles, then dropped her off at home, had a Cliff Gel Shot, taped my arches (just to try it - for extra support), and went back out for another 5 miles. Success! No pain, other than mild joint aching in both knees, which subsided a few minutes after I stopped. I stretched out and iced my knees.
So, the tape I used was for adding support to the Tibialis Posterior muscles on both legs. This muscle helps to shock absorb, maintain the arch, and prevent over-pronation and excessive knee valgus. I decided to try adding the tape in case I want to do. it for the actual Half Marathon Run.
March 15 -- Week 9
It's Week 9 and the race is in a week and a half! I did two runs already this week, and I'm trying to do a long one asap. I was supposed to do my longest run last weekend, but ended up playing in a beach volleyball tournament and couldn't coordinate the best timing for all of the muscle soreness that I knew I was in for (between the 11 mile run and an all-day volleyball tournament).
It was really hot out on Monday, and I didn't get out until noon, so Cora, Niko, and I only lasted 2 miles. I had to get them home for water. A couple of days later, I got out for a good 6 miles. As usual, I started with foam rolling and glut activation exercises. Not so much to fatigue the muscles, but just to wake them up. I rocked it!
March 10 -- Week 8
I had a week off, my eye surgery went really well, and now, most importantly, I can see brilliantly! I followed my doctor's orders closely, used eye drops as instructed, wore goggles to sleep, and waited a week or more to run.
Unfortunately, both of my knees started aching after around 5-6 miles. I felt like my gluts were not as activated as I want them to be. My form was more difficult to maintain. I'm not sure what the reason was, except any or all of the following... 1) I hadn't run for a week, 2) Poor nutrition (I didn't eat a good breakfast or take my vitamins), 3) I didn't do my hip and core exercises as much as I had planned (maybe because I felt so good during my last run that I let it slide as a priority), and/or 4) I was pushing the stroller and had the dog on leash, who was a little wild and needed a lot of correcting (the dog, not my baby - she was fine!).
Either way, I didn't feel awesome today. To get back on track, I'm going to focus more on what I know is important: hip stability, biomechanics, foam rolling, hydration, flexibility.
March 2 -- Week 7
I am having Lasik eye surgery tomorrow! After thinking about it for at least a few years, I have decided that the time is right and I'm ready to do it. It turns out that I am a perfect candidate for the procedure - and I am mentally prepared - so very shortly I will be done dealing with contacts and glasses! I was informed that I should not do any training runs for about a week, so I hit the street this morning.
I felt pretty solid on this run and didn't have high expectations for distance because I was pushing Cora, my 2 year old, in the stroller. When I started off, I was hoping for 4-5 miles...my goal was technically 6...but when she fell asleep, I took the free ticket and kept going! I added a couple of laps around the lake until she started to stir...and next thing I knew it was 8 miles! She woke up and requested to go home, so I obliged and took her back for lunch. That was a huge success! No significant pain or discomfort to report on this run, I'm happy to say.
Next stop, lasik surgery at Clearview Eye and Laser with Sandy T. Feldman! I have to admit that I'm not disappointed to have the restriction on running. It will give me a chance to rest and focus a few days on hip and core strengthening.
Feb 25 -- Week 6
9 miles! I haven't run since my 8 mile run one week ago. My Physical Therapy practice is picking up, I had a field trip with my Kindergartener, and it has been a COLD week! We have to go to a birthday party this afternoon and it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I had to get out early today. I spent at least 5 minutes warming up - foam roller to my legs and back, and glut activation with mini band exercise. Off I went for my 4.5 mile loop with the doggy. I listened to a podcast about new physical therapy research...very interesting stuff! Anyways, I felt good at 4.5, so I dropped the dog off at home for some water, and I went back out to repeat the course. I must have been in a groove because my app alerted me at 8 miles and I thought it was only 6! To my delight, I completed the last lap around the lake and headed for home. My knee started to ache mildly on that last mile, which bothered me mentally more than physically. I made it home right at 9 miles! I went back into my clinic for 10-15 minutes for foam rolling and stretching. Research shows that using the foam roller after exercise to apply compression to the tissues can decrease DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). My kids came in to join me for some stretches. My two year old then brought me an ice pack and I iced my knee for 20 minutes.
I'm happy with how the 9 mile run went, except for the mild knee pain toward the end. I should have been doing my hip strengthening exercises throughout the week, but it got away from me. I will do better this week.
Feb 20 -- Week 6
No running for about a week since last post because we were out of town in San Antonio for a Physical Therapy Convention. I had visions of taking a 3 mile run along the riverwalk, but that certainly did't happen. Sadly, I talked my husband into toting my running shoes in his carry-on bag...THAT was unnecessary. We opted to lay by the pool and drink wine during our down-time, rather than exercise. Go figure!
Ok, back to reality. Returned from vacation and ready to get back to business. No stretching, no glut strengthening, no stabilization or balance work...and no running for a week. I started off with a 4 mile run yesterday - and it didn't feel too good. My knees were feeling the pounding a bit more than usual. My body just didn't seem to have the energy. It probably did't help that I had been sitting on the couch in my jammies all morning and then suddenly motivated myself to get dressed and hit the pavement. My dog was pulling harder than usual, and I didn't have the stability that I should have had, so there was more torque on my hips and knees than I was ready for. So, ultimately I felt the pressure and pain in my knees and feet. Not impressive. I was a little concerned. I should have iced, because I know better...but I was too busy feeling a little sorry for myself and just being lazy.
Today was another day. I knew I had to do 8 miles, so I woke up ready to rock it. After working with patients in the morning and making lunch for my kids at noon, I got started with my movement preparation...foam roll to the quads, ITB, TFL, then gluteal activation with skaters and lateral hops on a single leg. I grabbed my headphones, kicked off an inspiring podcast about how to help people make better decisions about their healthcare, and headed down the trail and up to the lake. Around 4 miles in, I met up with my husband and kiddos, who were attempting to jog around the lake as well. Dylan got dressed in her "exercise clothes" and was ready to go running with mom. Her strategy was to sprint 25 feet, then stop and walk and ask for water. I had to convince her of a better strategy. She had a hard time matching my slow pace, so we settled on small goals, one-at-a-time...run to that tree, then walk to that shadow, then run to the bench, then walk to the hill, then run to the drinking fountain...and so on. Like me, she is goal-oriented; so when we set mini goals that seemed more manageable, she did great. At that point, she decided to grab a cracker and hop in the stroller - her mile was done. So off I went for another 3-4 miles. My knees were both feeling a little achey around mile 6. I didn't like that feeling, but I re-focused my attention on my technique, particularly stride length and heel pull, oh yeah, and forefoot contact as well as falling forward. It must have helped, because I cruised through the last couple of miles and caught up with the family again just as I rounded the corner onto our block and hit my 8 mile marker. YES! Before sitting down to ice my knees, I stretched out as usual - hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and piriformis. Then I needed the excuse to sit and not get up, so I sat with ice for 15 minutes. As the day went on, I felt really good, other than sore calves. Tomorrow might be REEEEALLY bad in the calves!
The plan for this week -- a 4-5 mile run midweek, then 9 miles on Saturday.
Feb 12 -- Week 5
Wow! I did 7 miles yesterday! And I felt really good about it! So my 5 year old daughter has now said that she wants to train with me...she would like to do a "running race" with me, so we are planning on doing a 5k together in a few months. She was fired up to start training today! Off we went...Dylan, Niko the dog, and I headed out for a one mile loop around the lake. Dylan wanted to hold the dog's leash, which was interesting because the dog is a bit on the wild side. But we managed to get through it and everyone had fun! I dropped Dylan off at home and went back out with Niko for another couple of miles. Then took Niko home for water and went back out for my final 4 mile loop. I am a fan of the PowerBar Gel Shots, so I took one of those shots at mile 3 and felt like I had plenty of energy to push through. No pain in the knees. I did feel some soreness in my left foot, so I am going to do some extra stretching and manual techniques to free up any problems that might be trying to set in. Now I'm off to have a beer at Stone Brewery with some friends to celebrate! I feel ecstatic!
Feb 7 -- Week 4
I bowed out of my 5k run over the weekend because I still wasn't feeling healthy enough. However, I was actually feeling pretty good on Friday, so I ran 5 miles! My longest run yet! My body felt great. No knee pain. No real fatigue. No soreness. I focused on my technique and kept up my cadence. Yes! I was so excited! I took advantage of my husband being home sick from work. I took the dog and left the baby with him.
I was scheduled to run 4 miles today, but since I didn't get in my 6 miles over the weekend, I opted for another 5 mile run. I didn't know what I would be up for when I left the house, but my body felt really good and the motivation came out of nowhere. It helped that I was playing catch up a little bit. I am supposed to run 7 miles this coming weekend, so I might shoot for 3-4 miles later this week, then get my big 7 in on Saturday.
I noticed that if my music was turned up too loudly, then I could not hear my footsteps. Apparently I rely more on the sound of my footsteps than I realized. I have a pretty good idea of what 180 steps per minute sounds like, so I frequently check to make sure that I am at the cadence that I should be at. Again, focusing on pose position, falling forward, heel pull, engaging gluts, and midfoot landing.
Feb 2 -- Week 3
Now I'm sick! My kids were sick, my husband was sick, and I have been fighting it. I don't feel too bad, although I have lost my voice. I have been able to work, although I'm cancelling my patients for tomorrow. When I'm sick, I definitely don't like to push myself to run. I'm ok with short runs if I'm feeling up for it, but I'm not one to push through to fatigue and wear myself out even more. So, this is a mellow week for me and I will just have to play a little catch up.
Jan 25 - Week 2
More rain! I attempted a 4 mile run over the weekend, but the rain moved in and my ears were freeeeezing! So I ran home after 2 miles and used the eliptical for another 20 minutes. Yesterday was Tuesday, my scheduled day for 3 miles - motivated and wanting to take advantage of my husband being home with the baby, I got out before the rain and crushed 4 miles at a pace of 9:30 per mile. I felt really good, other than mild right knee pain toward the middle and end. Before running, as usual, I rolled on the foam roller and then activated my gluteals with mini band exercises (ie lateral taps). After the run, I stretched hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, adductors, piriformis, and calves. My calves are SOOO SORE! I can tell that I'm not walking normally because my right calf is seriously painful. It feels like DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), rather than a tissue injury. I'm not concerned about it, but I am going to give it a few extra days to rest. I had to work in the afternoon, so I was able to squeeze the run in during naptime (luckily hubby was here!) My plan WAS supposed to be 4 miles tomorrow, but I will modify as needed to get ready for my 5 mile run this weekend. On my OFF day, today, I'm working on glut/hip/core strengthening with just a few easy exercises (ie single leg bridges, airplanes, single leg squats). I have both kids today, one home sick from school; and I'm working in the morning with a patient who drives from 45 minutes away. So far, I'm feeling like I can handle this! (Might be the honeymoon phase!)
Jan 19- Week 1
Rain today. After dropping off my kindergartener, I took my little one to the gym, kicking and screaming...she was not happy about going to Kids Club. After taking 10 min to pry her from my arms and get her to go potty, I escaped to the cardio area for a workout! 30 minutes on the treadmill with a 5 min walking warm-up. Again, focusing primarily on technique, I was working on faster steps and shorter strides than I used to do...180 steps per minute, forefoot landing. I am not used to running on the treadmill. My speed was 6.4, which is much faster than I used to run before I improved my technique. I felt good overall. A little aching in my knee toward the end, so I hopped off and went to the floor to do single leg bridges, hip flexor and adductor stretching, and push-ups. I know that I am supposed to run 4 miles this weekend, and my calves are still sore from volleyball and my first runs, so I plan to rest from running for a few days. I will do a few minutes of band work for gluteus medius and hip control over the next few days. Luckily, I demonstrate these exercises to patients frequently, so I will just go through the exercises with them at the next opportunity.
Jan 17 - Week 1
Went for my first real run today. 3 Miles with toddler and dog in tote. Prior to running, I foam rolled my quads and IT bands for 1 minute; then I did a gluteal activation exercise with a theraband around my ankles. I felt great through the run and made sure to stretch my calves, quads, hip flexors, and hamstrings when I got home.
Jan 16 - Day 1 of Training
I am scheduled to run 3 miles today. I wasn't expecting to be sore from playing volleyball two days prior, so that was a fun surprise. Patrick, my wonderful husband, is off work today, so he can help manage the kids while I log this first run. We went to the beach for a family picnic (Yep, at the beach in January in San Diego!). I decided to run back and forth on the wet sand at South Ponto Beach while the girls played in the waves on the shoreline. Part of the time I had a two year old running behind me, and part of the time I was watching my five year old get soaked while jumping in waist-deep. Although I couldn't log it, I probably got a mile in! While I didn't meet my distance goal, I did open my "Tempo" app and set the cadence at 180 steps per minute, which is the ideal cadence for reducing overuse running injuries. I focused on midfoot landing, forward fall, and "pulling" my heel...techniques of proper running mechanics, which I am highly trained to assess and teach, but I still need to remind myself in my head.
As I sit here pondering this decision to run a Half Marathon, I'm thinking about several things...particularly, "Do I really want to get myself into this?" I haven't been running very consistently, and never more than 2-3 miles in the last couple of years. But the rush of excitement and sense of accomplishment that I experienced in 2013 has always left me feeling like I might want to do it again someday. I happened to mention the idea to some friends, who said "I'll do it too!" And that was it... A couple glasses of wine later and it seemed like a great idea!
A few days later, I sat down and looked at some training programs. At this point, I have 10 weeks to prepare. I took the nuts and bolts of several programs and added in principles of training from my own education and experience to then create my own training program that will work for me. Many training programs advance too quickly or recommend running more than 3 times per week. I plan to do 2 shorter runs during the week, with one longer run on the weekend. I do not have childcare during the week, other than school for my kindergartener; but my husband is home to watch the kids on the weekends. I built in opportunities to skip runs or modify as needed due to illness, schedule, etc, because I know how unpredictable life can be when planning ahead for the next 2 1/2 months.
With that being said, here is my 10 week training plan, starting from running 3 miles, and progressing to 13.1 on Half Marathon Day!
Week 1: Tues (3 miles), Thurs (3 miles), Saturday (4 miles)
Week 2: Tues (3 miles), Thurs (4 miles), Saturday (5 miles)
Week 3: Tues (4 miles), Thurs (3 miles), Saturday (6 miles)
Week 4: Tues (4 miles), Thurs (5 miles), Saturday (7 miles)
Week 5: Tues (3 miles), Thurs (5 miles), Saturday (8 miles)
Week 6: Tues (4 miles), Thurs (5 miles), Saturday (9 miles)
Week 7: Tues (5 miles), Thurs (6 miles), Saturday (9 miles)
Week 8: Tues (6 miles), Thurs (5 miles), Saturday (11 miles)
Week 9: Tues (4 miles), Thurs (5 miles), Saturday (6 miles)
Week 10: Tues (4 miles), Thurs (3 miles), Sunday (13.1 miles)!