Thursday, September 24, 2015

Preparing for this year's half-marathon

I am getting ready to run my 3rd half-marathon this Saturday at Fort Wayne's annual Fort 4 Fitness Fall Festival. This is probably the best and most-prepared I have felt out of all of them. My legs, knees and feet are feeling pretty good (just a slight soreness in my right foot now and then).

I also think my training has been better for this half than it was in other years. And by better I mean, I've been running less.  In 2012 and 2013 I was running more, longer, and faster - and my legs were more worn out because of it. If I remember correctly, I was having to ice my knees after long runs in those previous years. This year I've only used ice once, and that was on my right foot a couple weeks ago.

This year my prep has been to run (usually) 5-6 miles three days per week, a 4th day of 3-4 miles, and then a longer run. I usually upped the long run by a mile each week. Last Sunday I/we did 11 miles, which was the longest we will run prior to the 13.1-mile half. I've been doing my 3-6 mile runs around 9-10 minute miles (though only recently), and the longer runs at 11-12 minute miles. I think running less and slower has made my body feel much better.

I was probably in the best shape for the 1st half I ran in 2012, which I finished in 1 hr 47 minutes. I was completely exhausted by the time I did it though, and I had to take quite awhile off for my knees to recover afterward. The next year I was running with Jane, helping her complete her 1st half, and we ran it in 2:26. I felt better after that race, but then I got the plantar fasciitis. Even though I ran the 10k at the Fort4Fitness in 2014, I had just quit smoking, and I'm basically trying to forget that entire year.

I have only made one run this week in preparation for the half. After the 11 miles Sunday, I took off completely Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I did a moderate 3-4 mile run, and I hope to maybe walk a mile or two on Friday.

Another big difference between this year and previous years is that the Fort4Fitness this last weekend in September is not the culmination of my running season this year. I am still considering the full marathon in November (and am leaning heavily towards it), so I'm merely considering this as part of my training. I would like to keep increasing my long runs each week - maybe working up to 18 or 20 for the longest before the marathon - and I would like to work towards averaging around 9-minute miles over the entire course. I don't want to rush it, or push myself to run faster than I can, but the difference between 10-minute miles versus 11-minutes is 26 minutes over the race. Doing 9-minutes instead of 11 would cut off almost an entire hour. Non-stop running for 4 hours sounds much better than non-stop running for 5 hours. So... we will see.

Further thoughts I'm having about the full marathon... If I decide to NOT do it this year, it's because I'm worried about my knees or if my right foot doesn't come out of this funk (or if something were to happen during the half). If that's the case, I would like to spend some time working out to gain more leg strength, and shoot for next year. However, if I feel good at the end of this year's half, then I'm thinking I may as well go for it. Who knows what my life will be like next year. Plus, completing this marathon would qualify me for the Boston Marathon... ya know. :) Certainly it's not something I HAVE to do, but it probably tops my bucket list of things I'd like to do (simply running a marathon, not necessarily Boston), and I don't really have that much else going on in my life right now. So, again, we will see.