After sharing my Portland Half Marathon recap last week, I received a few messages asking about the training program I used for the lead-up into the race. Now, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but I am always happy to share my experience, so here we go!
This training cycle was unique (to me) in the fact that it was the first time I had actually trained for a half marathon. No, you read that right. Yeah, it was my (counts on fingers) 30th half marathon, but the 13.1 distance has never been a central focus of mine, more like a benchmark sort of race (or in the case of my first half marathon, something I was totally unprepared for, but jumped into anyway). HOWEVER, when I learned about the opportunity to train with my local Fleet Feet for a goal Fall race, I thought it would be a good way to get back into a routine after our cross-country move, and turns out, it was a great choice!
The Fleet Feet set up was pretty ideal – for a set fee ($145), you were guaranteed a 12- week training plan on TrainingPeaks, two structured workouts a week (one speed, one long run), access to mentors (in person and online, via e-mail and a closed Facebook group) AND registration to the Portland Half Marathon (and race day perks such as a tent, private bag drop and portapotties).
Anyway – the training plan was pretty generic, but provided the guidance I needed to set up, what I believe was the key to the success of my training this cycle: CONSISTENCY.
For 12 weeks, I ran five days a week (M, T, W, F and Sat), with a majority of the miles being easy, one speed/tempo/hill day (Wednesday, group run), and Saturday long. Mileage was low-ish, starting at 15 miles a week, topping out at 32 miles.
One HUGE adjustment I had to make since moving here (other than adjusting to the cooler weather, which I love, of course) was the elevation change(s). Florida running was flat as a pancake, and I had to SEEK “hills” in the form of bridges/ramps. Here, it’s quite the opposite, and it can be a challenge to not gain/lose a lot of elevation even in a short run. However, just running hills at comfortable pace has definitely helped my legs, and has worked to my advantage both on race day, and on the speed days where we hit hill repeats.
Speaking of speed days – these were often short-ish/social runs, but I’ve enjoyed them more than I’ve ever thought I would. Sure, running fast, or even thinking of running fast makes me nervous, but knowing I had a great group to joke with, and push myself with – that’s been an incredible gift. Some of these runs are more structured than others, but they always involve a warm up, some space of time where we have to run faster than we’re used to, then a cool down and stretch/chat time.
Long Runs were varied as well. Due to scheduling, some of these I did solo, and two weekends I swapped out for races (Orting and Iron Horse in August), but sometimes I switched it up and ran with teammates who ran intervals, or split my run up into a long warmup followed by some paced miles, but I never ran past 13 miles.
Another asset in the cycle was the purchase of a new running watch! I upgraded to the Garmin 645 and couldn’t be happier – seeing the analytics in both Garmin Connect and Strava has given me a lot of perspective on my progress and has guided my goal setting/next step decisions.
So, that leads up to now – a week post-race, and FINALLY getting over that cold that hit me before Portland! I took the week off from running, and did a little stroller jaunt yesterday (to/from Abby’s 1K race, actually!) but plan on officially JOINING the Fleet Feet run club so I can have the structure of group runs when they work out, and keeping myself in running shape before returning to my love of 26.2 for a new marathon training cycle kicking off in February for a Summer (yes, SUMMER) race – oh, I love Washington state!