What Worked During My Last Half Marathon Training…And What I Hope Will Work Again

Life is all about trial and error.  I learned quite a bit while training for my first half marathon, and I learned even more about myself as a runner as I trained for my fourth half marathon.  I spent a lot of my time training for Shamrock Half Marathon focusing on trying to improve my speed and finish time.  And clearly, what I did worked, since I crossed the finish line by PRing by over 10 minutes!

post shamrock half

So what worked last time around, and what do I hope will work again as I train for Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach in September?

1.  Speed work

I consistently focused on speed work at least once a week.  The majority of my weekday runs were completed on the treadmill, which made it easier to increase the treadmill speed and increase my running pace.  I hope to continue working on speed work, although I would also like to complete more of my weekday runs outside.  With the temperatures and humidity on the rise, completing speed work outside might prove to be difficult.

14 mile run

Not only did I complete most of my weekday runs on the treadmill, but due to winter weather I had to complete some of my long runs on the treadmill as well, including my 14 mile run

2.  I cross trained and lifted weights when time allowed for it

My cross training primarily consisted of walking and yoga, and some time on the elliptical thrown in.  And every week when I went to the gym I tried to find some for some weight training of some sort.  Both the cross training and weight training helped to make me a stronger runner.  And I want to place an emphasis again on both of these as I train for Virginia Beach, especially once the school year ends and I have more time during the summer.

3.  Being flexible

I faced more than enough obstacles and distractions during my Shamrock training, including a vacation at Disney World, Christmas, and my car accident.  I also came down with a couple of colds during my training.  Although I didn’t complete all of my planned runs each week, I didn’t let this get the best of me.  I made accommodations when needed, and focused on the big picture of my training.

4.  I didn’t give up

I could have very easily thrown in the towel after my car accident on January 28th, just seven weeks before I crossed the start line of the Shamrock Half Marathon.  But I chose not to let the car accident define me.  Despite the obstacles I faced during my recovery, particularly the back pain I endured and the time each week that I spent at the chiropractor which took away from the time that I had to train, I refused to give up.  I know that I’ll face obstacles this time around, and it’ll be important that I keep my focus on the finish line.

5.  I had support

I'm so glad that Preston ran with me yesterday.  I'm not sure I would have been able to do it without him by my side.

Preston continues to be my #1 supporter during my training

Having a support system is critical, especially during challenging times.  The seven weeks inbetween the car accident and Shamrock were difficult for a number of reasons, and one of the reasons I didn’t give up was because I had a great support system.  Online, I received lots of support from all of you, and in person I received a ton of support from my friends, family, and Preston.  Without each and every one of you, I’m not sure that I would have been physically or emotionally able to finish preparing for Shamrock.

QOTD: What worked for you during your last training cycle?

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46 Responses to What Worked During My Last Half Marathon Training…And What I Hope Will Work Again

  1. You have a great plan and it works for you!! That’s awesome! My best decision for me was to train by heart rate. I ran one of my fastest marathons and never ran a 20 miler or did any traditional speed work. I’m hoping to repeat that this Fall by following the same plan.

  2. Pam says:

    Now that I train with a group, that has helped pushed me tremendously towards reaching my goals. Self motivation is really important too, and as long as you keep focused on what you are trying to achieve, anything can and will happen!

  3. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    So have made so many improvements, so proud of you! Consistent speed work is definitely the key to faster times for me!

  4. It’s strange – my PR was actually my first half, when I did nothing to prepare except running 3 weekdays and doing my long run on weekends, but even though I was a little slower the 2nd and 3rd times around this spring, the fact that I started to add in core work made a difference in how I FELT. I think speedwork will be crucial for the next one, since all three thus far have been in colder temps than expected even after winter training, whereas next up is Disneyland during Labor Day, so I will be feeling the heat.

  5. Your improvement between half marathons has been awesome. I am so proud of you. I am proud of my time from Las Vegas because it was the only half marathon (out of the 6 I’ve done) that I was not injured for. I hope to be stronger by VA beach so I can run it at my true pace and not have to “just get through it”.

  6. H.A.G. says:

    Great ideas…starting to plan now!

  7. mkadens1 says:

    You rocked your training! I think having a plan and being consistent about following it are key. And yes, support from family and friends is worth its weight in gold.

  8. It is great when you find what works for you in training. Great job on your improvements.

  9. Chaitali says:

    Your last training cycle really went well for you in spite of all the challenges! These are great tips as I’m going to start training for Wine and Dine in a couple months. I definitely slacked on the speed work last year so have to get better about that.

  10. Thanks for sharing! When you do speed work on the treadmill, do you include walking intervals, too?

  11. I love reflecting on training cycles (even ones that went poorly, like this one) to figure out what did and didn’t work, and how to do better.
    It sounds like you definitely nailed this one! 🙂

  12. Love this! Pretty much everything you said is what has helped me get faster and stay injury free! I do a lot more speed work, CrossFit or strength 3 days a week, and only run 3 days a week. It’s been great so far!

  13. Fantastic list! Great tips for minimizing injury and getting through those tough times.

    Cross training and support are two things that definitely resonated with me.

  14. It’s all about the training, physical and mental! Speedwork makes me run fast, but strength training keeps me pushing through those tough miles! Great job!

  15. Training cycle what’s that? But seriously I haven’t trained for a run or race lately but you have some good points. Overall I want to lift more and heavier weights to improve my strength overall as well as my runs.

  16. Great list of what worked for you! I really do believe it all comes down to the training and actually putting the miles in, and giving yourself time, but still allowing for (when life happens). I think you’ll definitely rock any race you do, keeping all of that up!
    It’s also very awesome you have such a great support system!

  17. Adding in more speedwork was definitely one of the best things I did to improve my overall performance. I still need to work on that flexibility piece though!

  18. Congrats on improving your time! I’ve found that strength training almost always helps me improve my running times. Need to remember that because it’s not my favorite thing!

  19. Great tips!! And way to go with improving yoru time! 🙂

  20. great tips! I have found what has helped me over the past year is adding in speedwork once a week, and corework daily has really upped my strength. One huge thing I have focused on is at work to make sure I am being active at least once an hour-walking around for a bit, doing stretches, doing sets of lunges and squats and being more active has helped me feel more loose throughout the day.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I love reading what went well and what didn’t work well after a training cycle. I know speed work is one area I would like to improve on for the next training cycle (I incorporated more speedwork in winter 2014 vs winter 2015). Great job!

  22. Pingback: Happy Runiversary to Me! | From Dancing to Running

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