You know the half marathon is my sweet spot right? Just enough time to warm up my legs, not so long my brain can interfere! Over the years I’ve dropped my time, but a new PR is on my goal list and so today I bring you a stud of a runner, an amazing triathlete, mom, writer, person, Allie.
In a sport that is measured in milliseconds, 10 minutes is an eternity.
Most runners only see such huge time improvements when they first begin running and racing, since their mind and body are still trying to figure it all out.
I’m here to tell you how, at 39 years old, and after more then a decade of running and racing, I cut my half marathon PR (personal record) from 1:38 to 1:28. It can be done at any age and at any time during your running life.Here is everything you need to know:
Know it will be hard.
I want you to really read that and understand it. Setting a goal as big as subtracting 10 minutes off your overall half marathon time will at first, make you feel like a badass and can scare you in the best way possible. By the middle weeks of training, those “good” scary feelings may be replaced with just plain scared, tired, doubtful and can have you on the verge of quitting.
You will be doing more speed work and more mileage then you have in the past to achieve your lofty goal, and every fiber of your being will feel it. You will also be adding in more strength training, foam rolling and stretching to ensure you have almost no free time whatsoever.
If this still sounds like something you want to tackle, you are my kind of people, so read on.
Takeaway: Be sure of how badly you want to achieve this goal and then remind yourself every single day.
Know what you don’t know.
If you dare to dream this big, you may want to consider hiring a coach. I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this post you already know a good one.
When I was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon way back in 2006, and had to take a whopping 20 minutes off of my time, I hired a coach for the first time. The result? A 3:30 marathon PR and 10 minutes to spare for my BQ.
Of course there are countless ways to get information and training plans without paying for a coach, just be careful of why you choose a certain plan, and also that it fits into your lifestyle as well as aligns with your ultimate goal.
Takeaway: With a goal this big, consider hiring a coach to keep you on track and injury free.Can you really take 10 minutes off your half marathon time? YES!! Follow @vitatrain4life tips Click To Tweet
Know enough to run slowly.
This may be the hardest lesson I have learned. I used to be of the mindset that harder, faster, longer would equal better. I was astonishingly wrong. Elite runner Tina Muir wrote about having the confidence to run slowly on your easy days, and that is truly what it comes down to.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Your body needs to run both at top speed and very slowly to achieve your desired pace for race day. If you don’t run your easy days as easy as possible, your body will not be able to recover as it should, and that can lead to the most dreaded of all outcomes: injury.
Takeaway: Run your easy days easy. My half-marathon pace is 6:43 and I run my easy days between 8:30 and 9:00.
Know your body.
There is a fine line between fatigue and injury and you need to know the difference. Just like having the confidence to run slower on your easy days, have the assurance in your training to take some unscheduled rest days or even time off if you feel an injury coming on.
In the past I have traded road miles for elliptical drills and treadmill or track work for pool running. At first I was very scared that the miles on the elliptical and in the pool would not translate to real running miles. But, I trusted my coach; I worked hard, let my body heal and then, this past spring, ran a 3:28 marathon PR and won my age group.
Takeaway: You don’t always have to run on the road or treadmill to reap the same benefits of running. If you have a manageable injury, rehab it on the elliptical and/or in the water for as long as it takes.Know who your friends are.
There will be days when your entire body is just saying “no.” You may have a lot of doubt along the way and you will definitely be in need of a support group. Now is the time to surround yourself with people who understand why this goal is so important to you and who will help you achieve it, no matter what.
A friend who is training for her first New York City marathon recently wrote about a really horrible long run. She was close to being finished but felt she couldn’t run another step. She called her husband and said she was done and to please come and get her. He said no. He knew she wasn’t in danger and also knew what she needed to hear. She finished the run and was so grateful he gave her the pep talk she needed to finish strong.
Takeaway: Know who you can turn to for motivation and support when the going gets tough.Know it may change your life.
Running has this fantastically magical way of changing your entire life for the better. Somewhere in all those miles and in all of that sweat comes a change. It may start slowly at first but everything from your friends to your wardrobe will morph into something better and different from when you started out.
If you could see the intangibles like spirit, determination, confidence and resolve, running “before” and “after” pictures would be more mind blowing then any body transformation.
Takeaway: Get ready for big changes in every aspect of your life. That’s what achieving a big racing goal can do for you.
Know you can do it.
When I first set my sights on breaking the 1:30 mark in the half marathon, I had plenty of people ready to see me fail. A so-called friend, when I told her the 6:45ish pace I would need to hold to attain it, pretty much laughed at me. It only fueled my fire.
As hard as it can be, if you put in the work, you have to block out what everyone else around you has to say about your goal. Especially if you write and/or read a lot of running blogs you can fall into the comparison trap. Stay focused on your goal and your training. Forget the rest.
Takeaway: On race day you need to have nothing but confidence. Remind yourself of all the hard work you put in to make it to the start line and then let nothing stop you from achieving your goal.Once I crossed the finish in 1:29 in 2013 I wasn’t sure I could ever do it again. And then I crossed in 1:28 in 2014.
The great thing about achieving a big bad scary goal is the confidence you gain to do it again and again, and in every aspect of your life, not just running.Dream big. Achieve. Repeat.
Allie is happiest when sweating or writing. She is a competitive athlete on Oiselle Team Voleé and has represented Team USA in duathlon competition.
When she’s not running, swimming or biking she’s writing her health and fitness blog VITA – Train for Life. Allie lives in the Northeast with her husband and twin boys, desperately trying to make gentlemen out of them all!
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