I was starting to stress. Vancouver had an unseasonably warm summer. There were bears, cougars and general reluctance all working together to keep me from training for the upcoming half marathon.
The first weekend of September we went down to Portland for the Pints to Pasta 10K, which I was running with a girlfriend. About 1/2 way through my right ankle started giving me some serious grief and by the end of the race I was really not comfortable…anywhere. My legs hurt all over, my butt muscles were very angry, my hips were screaming. The next day I felt WAY older than my nearly 40 years, virtually incapacitated. All I could think was “how the hell am I going to run more than TWICE this distance in two months?!”
For my first half marathon in January 2013, I only ever got to 10.3 miles in my training. And despite running through the happiest place on earth, my last 1.5 miles were NOT happy. My body basically began to shut down, my legs were threatening to fall off and just stay by the side of the road without me. I was miserable. Since that rookie mistake I have always tried run as close to the full distance as I can prior to a race, to make sure race day isn’t my first time doing it.
After that wakeup call of a 10K, I mapped out my remaining two months to see if I could even come close to the full distance by race day. It turned out it was doable and I saw a glimmer of possibility.
Each week I’ve been increasing my long runs by about a mile, and keeping my short runs at between 2.75 and 4 miles mid-week. I’m not doing a hard core training plan with hill repeats and speed drills, it’s just getting out there and running the miles.
I ran 7 miles. I ran 8 miles. Then this weekend I ran 9 miles. And I DIDN’T HURT. I didn’t hurt during and I didn’t hurt after. I didn’t even hurt the next day, which is when the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) usually start to kick my ass.
I’m by no means feeling ready and I have a lot of miles to run before my training is over, but I was so impressed (and relieved) to realize that this training thing really does work when you put the time and effort in. Who knew?! The runs get easier, the pain is less and if I’m lucky I might actually start to see some gains in my speed over the next few weeks. My short runs might start to work in some of that speed training business, but for now I am pretty happy with the progress I’ve made.