Monday, June 27, 2011

Train: Half marathon trng recap-month 1

On May 30, I started a new 20-week half marathon training program to get ready for the Whistlestop race held in upper Wisconsin on October 15, 2011. Last year, I used a tweaked 12-week Hal Higdon plan to prep for my first half mary stab; this year, I’m trying a regimen from a book given to me by my sister and niece, Brain Training for Runners.

Weeks 1-6 is Base Phase. Trng objectives? Build capacity + endurance, increase injury resistance + muscle activation capacity. For the first four weeks of this phase, I’d give myself a C+ overall. Week 1 = A | Week 2 = A | Week 3 = F | Week 4 = B.

The program starts off slowly and is longer than Higdon’s (I didn’t miss more than 5 or so days of trng the entire 12 wks of it). With my wintertime running, I felt I had a base equal to what’s slated for this phase going in. When I came upon a really hectic period during Week 3 (where I wasn’t sleeping much or well) I cut myself some slack. Rather than pushing I pulled back and eased up on things like time online (sorry guys! ;-) and other tasks that can cause tension and spent whatever free time I had relaxing outside or enjoying family and friend time.

It doesn’t help my training, but I’ve learned it helps my mindset…and since overall health is what drives my efforts here, I give myself allowances to be human.

I know, not very inspirational. ;-)

So far, the BEST thing about the Brain Training plan is the weekly proprioceptive cue work. Proprioceptive cues are meant to improve running technique by having you focus on particular thoughts + sensations during exercise to control physical movement in a desired way. The three that I have used so far are getting engrained, each one building on the other, so that when I run I not only have the current cue in my mind’s cross hairs – the others pop back in, too. I’m not sure how much my form is improved as a result; but, I *do* like having something positive and constructive to focus my mind on when I’m on my trng runs.

Another element that I’m enjoying is that each key run is spelled out clearly. In the past, I kind of understood what fartleks or intervals or hill work was; but, I didn’t really feel confident enough that I was doing it right (in intensity, in duration or even how often I should do each one per week, etc.). This plan lays it all out down to how long you should run fast or climb a hill and at what pace range.

The pace ranges that you’re to target for each type of workout are provided for you in a chart. After checking your current fitness level via recent race results (for example, how fast you ran your last 5K and/or half marathon), you check the chart for those values. Listed on that line are your goal paces.

My current goal pace ranges are:

Recovery pace (13:11-11:51); Base pace (11:50-10:50); Marathon pace (10:14); Half-Marathon pace (9:57); 10K pace (9:28); 5K pace (9:07); 3K pace (8:52); 1-Mile pace (8:27).

A couple of interesting things about these figures: Sometimes the hardest thing to do is run slow! Look at that recovery pace range. As hard as that is, I did have one sweltering August-like day where I had a base run slated and was only TOO happy to stay within the 11:50-10:50 range! ;-) Second thing: I only yesterday managed to run my fastest ever 1-Mile (8:39). I’d come close a few times, but I *still* haven’t hit that the chart's prescribed 8:27…but know I will, soon.

The author suggests that you check back with the chart every few weeks to see if you’ve gotten faster. If you’re consistently trng speedier + feeling strong, then he suggests you move up to the next fastest chart line. In the 20-week program he says it’s not unusual to move up a few lines.

Here’s hoping!

The pre-key workout dynamic stretching sessions look funny but are another element of the program I know I'll keep in my racing toolkit moving forward.

I’m enjoying the drills and resistance/core work that you’re to do alongside the running to help muscles become more powerful and abs more supportive (there’s also one day of non-impact cross trng he suggests you do per week). I did pretty well on the drill work (missing only Week 3); but, need to get into the resistance/core work. This week I got both of those sessions in, so I’m on the upswing.

Higdon's plan got me into the habit of setting aside Monday as an active rest day for yoga along w/a long walk or an upper body strength session. This plan reserves that day for rest, too, so I'm thrilled I can keep it as my stretch + strengthen day. Keeps me from 'zapping the zero' early, though.

Know I need to bear down + get laser-focused from this point forward.

Counting on you guys to kick me in the butt when needed!

Week 1 (May 30-June 5) | Drills/Hills: YES – Run: 9 mi – Walk: 11 mi – Yoga: 2X – Core: 1X
>Proprioceptive Cue: Falling Forward, practiced on 4 runs (base; hill repeats; fartleks; long)
Week 2 (June 6-12) | Drills/Hills: YES – Run: 16 mi – Walk: 4 mi – Yoga: 1X – Core: NO
>Proprioceptive Cue: Navel to Spine, practiced on 3 runs (base; fartleks; long)
Week 3 (June 13-19) | Drills/Hills: NO – Run: 0 mi – Walk: 6 mi – Yoga: 1X – Core: NO
>Proprioceptive Cue: Running on Water, practiced on 0 runs
Week 4-Recovery (June 20-26) | Drills/Hills: YES – Run: 11 mi – Walk: .5 mi – Yoga: 2X – Core: 2X
>Proprioceptive Cue: Pulling the Road, practiced on 2 runs (base, long)

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