6 things that are setting me up for my best half marathon yet
Over the winter, I have been preparing for a spring marathon. Ontario winter has been all over the place which has dipped my motivation to go out for training runs when the weather is cold and the roads are icy. One thing that has kept me focused on consistent training is a commitment to a mid-training cycle half-marathon to serve as a metric for how I am doing in my marathon program.
I have chosen the Chilly Half-Marathon in Burlington, Ont. It is the first time that I have done the race but the race course map promises a fast, flat course which is a perfect test run. Even though the race is not my goal spring race, I certainly am not diminishing its importance and have been focusing on six key things to get my ready to race the half!
I’ve added tempos to my long runs – Because it is early enough in the year and I am a few months departed from my offseason, I am not doing much more than one-speed workout a week as I build for the marathon. I am building a base but in the past, as I trained for a half-marathon, I would have a dedicated tempo day. Right now, I am doing one track day and incorporating a tempo portion at half-marathon race pace into the latter parts of my long run to mimic the fatigue I will feel in the last few kilometres of the race.
I have buckled down on nutrition – Every offseason, I skip the workouts and return to easy, aerobic training and often nix the nutrition during sessions as the heavy training sessions that necessitate more fuel are not present. As I slowly add them back in, I always tend to have a learning curve where I neglect to add in enough fuel. This year, I am trying to be better at this and focusing on having something pre-workout, a gel or two during (namely for sessions lasting 90 minutes or more) and a protein snack or drink immediately following. This program works well for me and helps me to make sure my biggest concern is keeping my feet turning over.
I’m not racing workouts – One of the other things I often need reminding when I start adding more than one workout into my training sessions is not to go full capacity in each speed session. It is easy to push hard when there is only one session in your weekly schedule and you know you have an entire week to recover, but as I have added an occasional extra session, I have focused on giving 80 per cent or so as to make consistent gains but get to the starting line healthy and strong. Consistent training is more important than crushing your last work out in terms of getting to the start line healthy.
I have been cross training – I have been supplementing my run training with intervals on the bike, regular strength training to activate muscles and a few swims a week. I find that this helps me to slowly build training volume without impact, leaving me injury-free and strong for race day.
I am fully resting on my rest days – I have been the worst at this in the past. Calling it a rest day but sneaking in a yoga session or a core routine or an easy aerobic swim. When I have a rest day now, I am not training in any capacity and allowing my body a full 24 hours of recovery time.
Cutting down on phone screen time – This is huge for my sleep. After 9 p.m. every night, my phone is put away and I do not look at it until the next morning. This allows me to start my night time routine and get a solid night of sleep, rather than scrolling through my social media channels and cutting into my sleep time.