Fitness,  Running

What I Learned When I Did & Did Not Train

Hey there and happy Tuesday!

Over this past weekend, I ran, for the second year, in the Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon here in Walt Disney World.  Not only was this race amazing and so fun, it also taught me an insane lesson on what my body can really do.

Do you ever, as an athlete, see others in your sport doing these amazing things and you think to yourself, “wow…I could never do that!”? Yeah, me too, friend.

This 1/2 marathon gave me a huge amount of confidence in my abilities as a runner.  To give you some background: I was an athlete my entire life, playing different sports throughout my life.  But, I was never specifically a runner.  In fact, I hated running in school.  I hated when they made us run the mile and when we had to run for other sports, I generally hated it.

Then, I met my husband.  He ran cross-country in high school and runs like a 7:30 mile…are you kidding me?

Ryan and I ran our very first half marathon in January of 2016 in Disney World and we were hooked after that.  We ran that race relatively unprepared since we didn’t train like we had planned to but we finished in about 3 hours and I was just happy to have finished.  I wasn’t running that race for any sort of time, it was just something to do.

Following the start of this year I hired a personal trainer (you can find my post about that here).  I signed up with my best friend to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon and it went amazingly well!  While I didn’t specifically train for the Princess 1/2 Marathon with my trainer, I was going to the gym about 4-5 days a week.  I can honestly say that that made a massive difference in that race. We still didn’t set any record times (finishing around 3 hours again) but I just felt so much better and that was a massive improvement.

So now here we are at Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon, 2017.  This half marathon was immensely different than any other half marathon for the simple reason that I’m also in training for my first FULL marathon coming up in January of 2018.  That made this race very different because, since I’m training for a marathon, I was also more or less unknowingly training for a half marathon.

The training program I’m using is a spin off of Hal Higdon’s programs and it’s worked wonders for me.  It’s super easy to follow and it gives you enough rest days that you feel challenged but not like you’re going to die from run day to run day.  Lord knows I haven’t had a perfect training but it’s been a massive step up from where I was prep-wise for every other half marathon.

This was the first race that Ryan and I decided not to run together and so we ended up in different corrals.  Let me tell you, running a half marathon alone is really hard, guys.  But, I finished this race in 2:44:34.  I was freaking stoked about that time.  That’s a personal best for me and I am so proud of myself!

The Difference

During the Princess Half Marathon in February, we decided to take on the half marathon in intervals of 4:1 (run for 4 minutes, walk for 1).  With this method it worked out really well and I felt like tackling 13.1 miles in this way was better than trying to take it all in at once.  But, the massive difference during Princess is how strong I felt throughout the entire thing.  During my other races, I looked at each mile marker as a “ugh, we’re only here?”.  But, at the Princess half, we hit mile 5 and I couldn’t believe we were already there.  I was feeling so amazing so it was hard to believe that the miles were just shredding away as quickly as they were.

During yesterday’s half marathon, I took a different approach because I hadn’t trained with this same 4:1 in mind.  I’ve been training to just run for as long as I can and walk when I need to.  I think this has helped me to build my stamina and lung capacity.  It hasn’t really helped my speed but now that that half is over and I’ve got a solid base, I’m planning on adding in some speed training runs and workouts to help get me to the finish line with faster times.  I had gone into this year’s half hoping to finish in 2:30 (ambitious) and I did start with the 2:30 pacer in my corral.  However, once we started, I stuck it out with that group for maybe 3 miles and then backed off because the pace was way too fast for me.  I tried to find the 2:45 pacer group but never ended up finding them and so I just did my own thing and took the race as I wanted.

From Princess to now, I honestly think that the BIGGEST difference in my race time is that I changed my running form.

After I finished the Princess Half I committed to changing my running form when I got home.  Running form is something that Ryan works on a lot when he works with his classes of airmen on their PT tests so he knows a decent amount about fixing/changing form and he helped me out.  Honestly, when he first changed my form, I was so ticked off and complained so much.  However, when I started seeing actual results from changing my form I stopped complaining 😂.

I can say with absolute certainty that having improved my form for this race is what I attribute to my time.  Soreness-wise and mentally, I was honestly in the same place I was during my other races but with my improved form, when I was running, I was actually getting somewhere instead of shuffling forward like I used to.

What I Really Learned

I learned that “training” means so much more than hitting the pavement and getting out for a run. You have to train your mind, your body, all of it to get you to the starting line.

I learned that the saying “mind over matter” is true.  When your mentality is in a good place, you are more likely to have a more positive experience.

I learned that I am in control of what happens.  If I fail, it’s because I didn’t push myself hard enough.  If I get that PR, it’s because I pushed myself through all the crap and got to that finish line.  No matter what, I’m in control of what happens to me during my runs.

I learned that I am so much more capable than I give myself credit for.  I was so nervous to run by myself and not with Ryan.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it without him.  I learned that that just wasn’t true.  Did I wish he was there? Sure.  But, I learned that I can do it alone and that I can self-motivate and get through the course on my own.

I learned that there is a part of me that does have discipline, that does self-motivate.  I always thought this was something I lacked but this race taught me that it is within me, that somewhere inside, I do possess those things.

I learned that no matter how much or how little I run, I’m a runner.  I am what a runner looks like.  I don’t have the perfect body, but this is what a runner looks like.  I am a runner in my heart and soul.  You don’t have to run miles and miles a day to call yourself that.  If you run a half a mile a week, if you only run races, if you jog, if you walk/run…you, my friend are a runner. #thisiswhatarunnerlookslike

I am so proud of myself after this race.  However, just like any race-runner, I want to get better, faster, stronger.  We have a full marathon coming up in January and even though we’re not even home yet from vacation, I already can’t wait to get back out and hitting the pavement, logging miles, hitting the gym for strength training.  Now that I know I can beat my own time, I want to beat this new time.  And, I know that I can.  I’ve now proven to myself that you can improve just by making simple changes.

Now that I’m done this half marathon and rolling towards the full marathon, I’m terrified, to be honest.  I know it’s going to take a lot of work over the next few months to really prepare me for this full marathon and I know that even though I’m over that half-way point, I still have a lot of work to put in.  But I’m so ready for it.


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