The Most Valuable Lessons Learned While Training for My First Half Marathon

12 weeks of training for the Rock & Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon are done. Wow. Seriously? Time flies. I’d be lying if I said it went perfectly. I had a bad cold, a few days of shin trouble, an unplanned business trip, I slacked at cross training… but still, I’m pretty satisfied. I learned a lot training for my first half marathon.

The Most Valuable Lessons I Learned While Training:

  • A training plan is just a plan.  If the plan calls for an 18 mile week and you have a 17 mile week – that’s still a great week!  I’ve caught myself thinking of that week as a failure. It’s not.
  • It is ok to miss workouts when you’re sick, tired, or sore.  Skipping one track workout because your shins ache is much smarter than working yourself into a stress fracture because you don’t want a day off.  Remember, your ultimate goal is to run a race and you can’t do that if you get hurt because you’re being stubborn.
  • Replace your shoes regularly.  Keep track of the miles you put on your shoes (DailyMile is a useful tool for this) and replace them BEFORE they blow out.  Your feet will thank you.
  • Find friends to do your long runs with.  Long runs take a lot of time and they’re a lot more pleasant when you have company.
  • Remember, most of us run because we like it NOT because we’re training to win races.  Go easy on yourself  when you have a bad run.  Loosen up on your time goals.  Most of our running goals are self imposed. We can adjust as necessary!
Week 12 Training Recap:
Monday 8/22: I got my first ever sports massage to try to work out a series of annoying knots in my butt/hamstring.  My legs are still a little sore but they’re feeling a lot better than they were pre-massage.
Tuesday 8/23: I did a 2 mile easy run around my neighborhood. My legs felt great & I kept the run feeling easy – even taking several walk breaks on a really short run.
Wednesday 8/24: My legs were totally dead and I felt totally panicked.  I went to my track workout, which was cancelled because there was a school event on the track, and badgered my coach with questions about how I should alter my last week and a half of training. We had a short hill workout where I ran about 1.5 miles. She made me promise to stretch a lot, ice bathe, and take my runs extra easy until VA Beach.
Thursday 8/25: I totally rested and sat on a tennis ball to work on the butt knot.
Friday 8/26: I went to the gym and rode about 5 miles.  Legs were feeling pretty good and I decided to go out for my long run Saturday, ahead of Irene.  I had 10 miles on the schedule but planned to cut out early if I was having any kind of tired or sore legs.
Saturday 8/27: I met Suze and our friend Suzanne for our long run.  It was so humid but I felt surprisingly good.  After a few miles I decided I’d be in for the full 10 miler.  We had a few detours due to construction and high waters from Irene but we ended up with about 9.4 miles.  We took it really slowly – stopping to walk and stretch pretty much every mile. It was exactly what I needed the week before my first half marathon.

9.4 miles around the nation's capital on a Saturday morning. It never gets old.

Stretching out on the cars after this morning's 9 miler

Today is a stretch and rest day.  I’m planning to take little Fin out for a nice long walk – though for a 7 pound dog that equals about 2 miles.

I hope everyone on the east coast survived Hurricane Irene and is safe today.  Be safe if you’re going out for a bike ride or run this afternoon – it’s still really windy in DC!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “The Most Valuable Lessons Learned While Training for My First Half Marathon

  1. gah thank you for these!! im running my first soon!

  2. Sarah@100CalsPerMile

    Great list! The part about skipping workouts is so true. I freaked out that I has to rest for 7 days because of my foot/ankle. But all was not lost and I still finished my race,

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      I’m glad your ankle healed up! I keep reminding myself that it doesn’t really make any difference if I finish a few minutes later than planned. 🙂

  3. I should look into a sports massage. Ever since my first half in May, my left hamstring has been on/off acting up and I’m thinking that may really help! Good tips!

  4. My coach from =PR= has told me under no uncertain terms to not go crazy from the tapering for Va Beach.. I’m definitely going crazy, but at least I’m tapering! Good on you for giving yourself permission to relax and enjoy the training – need that reminder myself sometimes. 😉

    (ps – leaving for va beach super early Saturday morning to avoid traffic. Saturday meet up?? I know all the local spots!)

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      Want to grab a drink on Wednesday instead of doing speedwork? Taper winning 🙂
      Also – Suze & I are heading to VA beach bright and early Saturay too! Yay. Definitely want to meet up. And maybe we’ll see you (and Ryan Hall) at the expo!!!

  5. Sounds like you’ve had a great 12 weeks of training! Definitely good to keep your wits about you & not get *too* obsessed with the “plan” – I’ve learned that having a plan as a guide & making any changes I need to is much better for me mentally than having a plan that is set in stone!

    p.s. so true about little dogs – our Dottie can only make it about a mile with those stubby little legs she has!

  6. Lee

    I absolutely agree with all of your lessons learned!

  7. That reminds me I have GOT to get a new pair of running shoes now so I have a few weeks to break them in before the 1/2. I am so glad you are a month ahead of me on this!

  8. Great lessons! See you in VB!

  9. Those are some fantastic lessons learned. I’ll be looking for some new running pals first thing after I move, I find them to be so motivating when I’m feeling lazy.

    Good luck with your last week of training. Remember to take it easy and be nice to your body!

  10. These are great lessons! When I was training for my full I was having a lot of knee problems and I would feel so mad at myself if I couldn’t make it my “scheduled” distance of the day. But it was stilly to be mad because I still did great, had a hefty run, and was able to make it up another day!

  11. Pingback: Half Marathon Training, 5 Days, Failing & PaceKeepr #momsrunning

  12. Pingback: August Training Recap and Looking Ahead to September | CarlyBananas

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