MEET MY NEW BFF, HAL HIGDON!
For my latest half marathon, the Biofreeze San Francisco Half Marathon, I decided to change things up a bit and actually train properly (read my first blog, Welcome to Medals & Tiaras for background). That meant I would find a well-reviewed training program and stick with it this time. Spoiler alert but following the training program actually went well, I PR’d by 30mins and have never felt healthier. So although I had a great experience, there are a few things I wish I had known before starting a training program. Here are five of them:
1 – TWELVE WEEKS IS A LONG TIME
Have you ever stood and waited for something in the oven to be ready? Or counted down the minutes on a treadmill? If so, then you know how long something can seem when we’re waiting for it to happen. This happened to me with my training program. After some research and date calculation, I determined Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 Half Marathon plan was the training plan that was going to get me to the finish line of the San Francisco half marathon. I thought, ‘well this is just 12 weeks long and I’ll be crossing the finish line before I know it!’ Being the planner that I am, I created a written and digital calendar filled with my training plan, bought new shoes, and signed up for a few local milestone races along the way. What I didn’t plan for was all of the things that could come up during this 12 week training period. Within 12 weeks I took an unexpected extended trip to Florida, entertained guests in my apartment, got sick, turned my ankle, drank a little bit too much (yikes!), and the list goes on and on. All of this to say that life will change as you move through your training plan and you must move with the punches. Which brings me to my next point:
2 – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT
It's perfectly fine to not be perfect. This is one thing I’ve learned to accept but honestly still struggle with from time to time. There will be days when you just really don’t feel like running but it's important to push through and stick to your training program. There will be others when you must listen to your body and make the decision to modify your day. There was an instance where I tripped on a tree root while running on a trail. While I didn’t sprain my ankle, it did have me limping to a nearby bench. Ten minutes later I was up and finishing my run, but I definitely felt some soreness the next day. I was really bummed about it because I otherwise felt great, it was a nice day out, I had 5 miles on the schedule and hadn’t missed a day of training. Minus the shoes, I was already dressed for my run with full intention of heading out. As I tied my laces, I felt that same throbbing in my ankle as I had after my run the day before. It took everything in me to take off my shoes and call it a day. I marked that day with a giant red X on my training calendar and felt horrible. The next day my ankle felt like nothing ever happened. I was so happy that I ended up setting a 5k PR that day (27:15, NBD). Long story short, sometimes being perfect can hurt you in the long run; pun intended.
3 – REST DAYS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS TRAINING DAYS
Read that again. Rest days are just as important as training days. Your body needs to rest to recharge and regain strength. Make sure rest days are incorporated into your training program. In the story I told above, I mentioned how hard it was for me to take that day off. What I didn’t mention was how glad I was when I saw a rest day coming up on my schedule (Fri-yay’s!). For those who are similar to me and hate to get off schedule, having rest day specifically scheduled in each week is essential.
4 – YOU GO THROUGH A LOT OF LAUNDRY
You really do. I felt like I never had enough socks (or other things) to keep up with my training program. Hal Higdon’s plan called for 6 training days per week and 1 rest day. That means you either have 6 full training outfits ready or you’re doing mid-week laundry. I had plenty of shirts and bottoms but definitely didn’t have 6 comfortable sports bras. A trip to Lululemon quickly put an end to that, but my husband's wallet was definitely not happy. While I don’t think it’s necessary or practical to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff, going through a training program gives you an opportunity to wear items in the back of your drawers and donate what no longer works for you. This is also a great time to figure out what you do and don’t like to run in, what brands work best for you, and determine what your running essentials are.
5 – IT WILL CHANGE YOU
You will be a different person at the end of your training. You’ll learn more about your body and how it works, and you’ll gain confidence that you didn’t know you were lacking. That last point really struck me. I realized that I never called myself a runner before completing this program. I didn’t have the confidence in myself to believe that I was one no matter how many races I finished. But let me tell you, this new awareness and confidence makes any pain you had during the program WORTH IT!
Thanks for reading, Sparkles! I would LOVE to know things you learned with working through a training program. Post your comments below!