Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ah, some lovely pre-spring weather....

I have been blessed to be able to run outside several times in the last few weeks.  If we get home fast enough, I can get in three to four miles before it gets too dark.  I'm loving it!  However, my knees aren't loving it.  It's taking them a little bit to get used to the pavement again.  They are feeling how I used to feel when I first started increasing my mileage.  The same for my left hip and tailbone--all sore.  This is what I get for wussing out on a treadmill.  I'm hoping that the aches subside soon, and that this is all temporary as I adjust to the pavement again.

We are well on our way through our training schedule for the half marathon.  There is less than six weeks to the Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon in Springfield, Illinois.  It will be my first--hopefully, not my last half.  I have heard that the course is a tough one, with all the hills after the first six miles of relatively flat course. 

In my mind, I am running this race to finish; to say that I've done it; to accomplish a goal of mine.  What I am NOT running it for is:  to set a PR for a half marathon; to compete with Shane or any other person running this race; or to kill myself trying.  I am going to try to enjoy every minute of it, and not let anything psyche me out from enjoying the thrill of accomplishment.  Sure, there will be some pains along the way.  It wouldn't be a challenge if there weren't.

During the training, we scheduled a 5K race in place of our long run a reduced mileage week.  We ran it at Washington Park, the site of our first 5K race back in October.  I am pleased to say that I set a new PR for myself at 26:29 (8:31/mile).  This is a full two and a half minutes faster than just three months prior.  I'm very happy with that.  I can't wait to see what the continued training and the addition of speedwork will do to my next official 5K time!

I have been enjoying the addition of speedwork to my weekly routine.  I wasn't really sure what intervals or tempo runs were all about.  Even reading about them in articles didn't truly tell me what they were or what pace I should be doing.  I found the SmartCoach application for my iPhone and it takes all the guessing out of that.  All you do is put in your time for a recent race, what you are training for, and how long you have to train.  It puts together a schedule and tells you what paces you should be running for each day.  It's pretty much fool proof (except that I find it hard to run so slow on easy runs--call me a fool).  I'm running tempos around 8:45 and speedwork at 8:15.  It's been great to see the pace getting easier as I incorporate this training into my schedule. 

If you have been running without a plan, I seriously suggest looking into it if you care at all about running any faster.  And why wouldn't you care?  Even if you are mainly running for exercise, your body gets more efficient as time goes by.  That means you are burning fewer calories doing the same exact thing as time goes by.  Mix it up a little.  Change up your tempo and pace.  It's amazing what shaking up your routine can do for mind, body and spirit!

Bring on the spring!  I'm ready to RUN!

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