|Not the clock time I was hoping for...|
This spring I focused solely on racing my best 5k ever. Speed work was my training focus. I still managed to run one "long" run each week (long compared to 5k, short-ish compared to half marathon!). Following my goal 5k, I had only 7 weeks until my half marathon. That really only allowed for 6 weeks to get myself ready for a race over 4 times longer than a 5k (the race was week 7).
Although I put in some really great runs in those 6 weeks, it was just not enough time to prepare. For future PR attempts I need to put in a standard 12+ week training program.
My half marathon PR was set while I was training for a marathon. Leading up to that race I was running some serious long runs every week. Two weeks before the race I nailed a 20 mile training run with a fast finish (9:40 average pace with the last two miles at 8:44 pace). The race took place shortly before I would have started my taper. I was in great shape!
Leading up to Charlevoix, I think I was (am!) in great shape, but not necessarily the right shape for a long distance race. During 5k training my weekly long run was typically 9-10 miles. Not a terrible base for a half marathon, but not like it was in 2014. Take a look at the long runs I ran in the 12 weeks leading up to each race:
|CC River Run||Charlevoix|
|7||12.63||0 (5k race)|
|3||18.42||0 (5k race)|
That is a 50% decrease in long run miles logged from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015. Better endurance might have allowed me to finish the race without getting any side stitches. Due to the missed runs this spring my long run average for the 12 weeks leading up to Charlevoix was only 8.4 miles. For Capital City River Run it was 12.5 miles.
The main cause of my huge positive split: side stitches. This was a curve ball during the race that I wasn't expecting. When they hit I didn't have a strategy in place for how I would deal with them. For my next race I plan to go into it know what I will do if/when a side stitch hits. I have been practicing a few things during my training runs these past few weeks, so I hope to have something worked out in time for my marathon this fall.
I can't let the blame fully rest on the side stitches because I know I started to slow down slightly before that. I think I started too fast. I don't necessarily think that averaging 7:48 in a half marathon is out of the realm of possibilities for me, but I think it was too fast for the first mile. I tend to run most of my runs with the first 1-2 miles around 30 seconds slower than the rest. For the 5k, I do an easy jog to warm up for 10-15 minutes and then a few strides to get my legs ready to run fast. For the half marathon, I did a few dynamic stretches to warm up because I was afraid I wouldn't have the energy for a half marathon if I wasted some of it on a warm up mile.
I really need to do a proper warm up before trying to race a half marathon. It was stupid to think I could go from 0 to sub 8 pace without a proper warm up. I won't be making this mistake again. I think in addition to a warm up mile before the race, I will try to run the first few miles slightly slower than my goal pace. Once I am fully warmed up, I will start kicking the pace up.
I know that addressing these three issues is not going to guarantee sub 1:45 in my next half, but I do really hope that if I keep putting in the work and keep making slight adjustments that I will get there soon. While it is disappointing to have missed my goal, I am trying to get the most out of the experience by learning as much as I can for the next round.