After failing to break two hours in the half marathon, I spent a lot of time inside my head, dissecting what went wrong. Once I exhausted my inner monologue, I looped my husband into the discussion. He’s a patient man.
He also has been a runner in the past, and he plans to be one in the future. He’s currently battling a nasty, nagging foot injury that's keeping him on the sidelines. Although he prefers short distances (he loves the 5K, and I’ll never convince him to run a half or a full marathon), he is familiar with training programs and the planning needed to run a race well. When I told him this year I’m going to buckle down and find my fast, he bought me a book: Run Faster From the 5k to the Marathon by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald.
I like structure. Printing out a training plan and meticulously checking off the workouts one by one appeals to me. This strategy helped me complete my first half marathon and my first full marathon, but it wasn’t working for me as I attempted to clock faster times over these distances. I was putting in the work, but I wasn’t improving.
Part of the problem might be my go hard or go home philosophy. Sometimes that type of thinking leads to major frustration, especially if my body is tired or my brain won’t focus because it’s thinking about my to-do list and I can’t turn it off. Reading the book helped me re-evaluate my approach.
First, what do I need to work on? I think my biggest weakness is sticking to my target race pace when I'm tired—as I inevitably am during miles 11, 12, and 13. Although my long-term running goal is to qualify for Boston, I’ve decided I need to master this skill over 13.1. I’ve completed quite a few half marathons, but as I've noted, I still haven’t figured out how to run the race well.
I usually begin the season with the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. With the help of my new book, I’m working on developing a training plan that hopefully will allow me to run a pretty fast time. At the very least, it’ll give me a base for the more difficult training that’s ahead.