Half Marathon Training: Breaking Past “The Mark”

20 Apr

Yes, believe it or not I AM still running and training for my upcoming races. Funny, since none of you have heard neither hide nor hair of it since I posted some tips on speedwork training way back when.

My bad

Well according to my “Smart Coach” app there are only 16 days left until race day.  She’s comin up fast!

Thankfully, I’ve been putting in my dues and gradually increasing my distance so my body will feel strong and confident come race day.  Increasing ones distance gradually has been something that has been hard for me as a relatively novice runner to work up to.  Sure, I totally see the logic (and the science) backing up the 10-15% rule, but it doesn’t mean I enjoy the slow pace of it.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the 10% rule states that you should only increase your overall weekly mileage by no more than 10-15% each week.  So for example: if I run a total of 17km in one week, I should not run more than 19km next week.  This will help your body build up core and cardio endurance and also reduce the possibility of injury.

Anecdote: I learned this the hard way last year and suffered a MASSIVE hip flexor injury post-race where I was unable to walk properly for 3 weeks.  Lesson to take away: FOLLOW THE 10% RULE.

Now back to increasing your distance.  Everyone who runs long distance races- anywhere from 21.1 km to 125km- will tell you it’s more of a mental game than anything else.  You can be as fit as a fiddle but getting your mind to accept how many kilometers you are set to run can be a whole different ball game.  I’ve seen this in myself even when training for a half-marathon.

In the early stages of my training schedule, I find it very hard to get past that elusive 10km mark.  Don’t ask me why, but for some reason going on a run longer than 10km will seem like a bit of task, partially because I know it means I now need to set aside at least an hour of my day solely for running.

So how do I get past this “mental block”? One of my favorite tricks is to map out a run beforehand that is longer than 10km, but I’ll give myself two options: one “short-cut” that will put me at 10km to finish my run, and one that will put me anywhere from 11 to 13km.  This way, when I’m on my run, I can see how I’m feeling and if my body (not my mind) is telling me to cut it short, I’ll run 10km. But unless I’m in physical pain and cannot tolerate 30 more steps let alone 3 more kilometers, I will push through to attain the longer goal.  I’ve really found this to be a useful tool and it’s definitely helped me gradually increase my distances.

I also find that bringing a small water bottle helps as well.  If ever you’re on a run for more than an hour, your body will need fuel in the way of water or an electrolyte to keep you going longer, otherwise you risk dehydration and muscle cramping.  Having your calves seize up 3km away from your house is not anyone’s idea of fun, just sayin’.  Not that I would know or anything.

So there you have it, my tips on how to break past the 10km or whatever distance mark that is holding you back from making your running goals come true.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be giving you updates on the final stages of my training. For those of you who aren’t aware, my first race of the season is the Goodlife Toronto ½ Marathon on May 6th.  If you have any specific running questions post them in the comments section below and I’ll address them in another post.

Happy Running!



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