The hard work is done and the NYC Half Marathon is almost here. Last week’s training went really well – so well in fact that it crossed my mind that maybe I had “peaked” too soon. But I keep reminding myself that no matter what, the adrenaline of the day will help carry me to the finish line.
So, what have I learned during the last three months of training?
1. Speed really does come at the end. I felt throughout my training that while my endurance increased, my speed diminished. Of course it is probably unfair to compare my speed when my goal was 5k races to my speed for half marathon training. But just this last week I became a fast runner again. “Fast” of course is all relative, but compared to the 6:05 min/km pace I was running so regularly (sometimes slower), it came as quite a surprise when a few days ago I ran a 5:39 min/km 10k, giving me a finish time only 15 seconds slower than my fastest 10k race. I did three runs this week at a faster pace than what I plan to do in N.Y, so hopefully as I work my way through hilly Central Park it will feel “easy” in comparison.
2. I think I learned to listen to my body this time around. I used John Stanton’s training schedule as a guide, but I also went with what my body felt like doing. When I ran that fast 10k I had not started the run with a plan to do that pace. In fact I had planned on a very slow, easy going pace. But once I got going, my body wanted to go faster. I told myself to slow down a couple of times, only to check my watch shortly after to find I was going faster still. Conversely, when I ran yesterday my legs felt a little heavy and tired. I quickly changed my goal to running only 4k rather than the planned 6. There was a time when that would have really bothered me, but now I feel ok with giving myself a bit of a break.
3. Speed isn’t everything. Obviously when you run, time becomes a big deal. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t all be running around with fancy GPS watches and obsessively tracking the results. At least I assume I am not the only one like that! But my biggest highs came not from my fastest runs, but from my most comfortable. Just over a week ago I ran 20k comfortably. Regardless of the time, that in my books is one heck of an accomplishment. It wasn’t that long ago when my goal was to run 3k without gasping for air and struggling to finish. What an amazing feeling to run that distance and feel confident that my body wouldn’t let me down. Not only that, but that I would feel good after the run. I can’t really ask for more than that!
4. And the final thing I learned? It may sound cliche, but I really can do anything if I put my mind to it. This time last year I said I would NEVER run a half marathon. Assuming I complete the race this weekend – change that – WHEN I complete the race this weekend, I will have run 3 half marathons in 5 months. Whether it is running or something completely different, I think we all need these challenges in life, something that makes us say, “Hey, I did this and I never thought I could!” Let’s face it, no matter how old we are, there is a kid inside of us looking for that pat on the back, that finisher’s medal, that sense of accomplishment. The kid inside of me is feeling pretty good right now 🙂