Week 5 of HRT (heart rate training) is coming to an end. In this week’s podcast (I’m on the Train Like a Mother half-marathon HRT plan) Coach MK and Dimity talked about goals. Not the “I want to run a 9:00 pace for my half” type of goal, but a “this is what I want to get out of running/this plan” goal. I am so used to picking my goals based on a race finish time – often kind of a random, maybe even unrealistic time – or a pace I think I should be able to do. It’s become clear to me in these past five weeks that I really am a beginner when it comes to knowing how to run. Sure, I know what the guidance is on nutrition, form, stretching, proper gear; but with the exception of when I very first started with a couch to 5k program, I’ve never prepared my body to run efficiently. With that in mind, these are my goals as I continue on the next 15 weeks of this journey:
Run by feel. I suck at keeping pace on my own. I would totally blow a run other than “free run” if I didn’t have my garmin. I want to be able to set out on an easy pace run and know how that should feel, so I don’t have to constantly look down at my watch or have it keep beeping at me. I want to know when I’m going too fast and I’m going to blow out of steam too.
Find out what I’m capable of and learn how to race. I’ve pushed it in races before – a little. I’ve felt like I really, really would like to stop right now and had to fight that feeling. I just don’t think I’ve ever run out of gas before; never threw up at the end because I ran so fast I made myself sick (not that I want to throw up, just that’s what comes to mind when I think “give everything you have”). I ran my last marathon, my 2nd ever – the Illinois Marathon, on April 30th of this year. I’ll talk about that more on goal #4, but the part that applies here is that I felt fine enough to run again a couple days later. I actually wanted to run. I could walk just fine that same day, unlike my 1st marathon where I looked at a flight of stairs and thought I just might cry. It’s hard to tell if that’s due to being more conditioned or because I didn’t really race it, but I’d sure like to be able to know the difference. Strategy as far as coming up with a race plan I can really stick to is another big part of this one.
Master hills. I suck at hills. I can run up and down them, sure, but I really don’t like it. They make me feel slow and winded. I get slow and winded. By the end of this training cycle I’m hoping the endurance I build will help me maintain a good pace on those hills and not feel like I really could use a walk right about now.
Run a marathon with no walking. There’s that word again: walking. I can run a half marathon without walking. I have yet to go a full 20 mile training run with no stops or walking. I have yet to run a full marathon without any walking. At Illinois, I ran with the 4:30 pace group for the first 15 miles or so and kept up just fine. My pacer was ok, he was funny, but he really didn’t motivate folks to stay with the group nor did he really pay attention to whether or not we were still with him. He did a lot of weaving and had erratic paces – sometimes 9:15, other times 10:30 and so on. Sure his “half” group probably met their goal time, but his marathoners really had to run faster than I think we should have in the first half of our race. By miles 16-18 the urge to walk was overwhelming, so I gave in. I walked just a minute or less, and then would run again. By the time I got near 20 I couldn’t just wait for water stops to walk a bit, but instead would tell myself that I had to make it to the next mile marker. I’m proud of myself for pulling energy out of the abyss to come up with a strong finish, but it kills me to think that if only I hadn’t walked I would’ve made my 4:30 goal time. My hope is that HRT will help me build enough endurance that I don’t get tired quite as easy and can go longer and longer over time without needing to give in to that urge.