The end is near. This is the last four weeks of of training for my next half marathon, each week getting me closer to race day and reaching yet another goal. But this is only the beginning of the end, meaning there is still lots more work to do before the big day.
After yesterday’s run I found myself reflecting on how far I’ve come. It was just about a year ago that I was getting my feet wet again at running after having my son. I remember dragging my feet and really struggling to get two miles complete. Now 5 miles has become a normal, every day run. I am lighter and faster on my feet. I am stronger and striving to be a better runner each training sessions. Progress is part of the process, and it feels so good to be able to look back and feel the difference.
Of course there are days I feel tired and not as fast or feel as great during the run, but I have pretty much stuck to my training plan this month. For some reason I thought that maybe I would struggle a bit more now that the miles have packed on, but I find I am really thriving. I took one day off from my scheduled workouts, but it was a cross training day and instead used it for much needed rest. I have yet to skip a run.
I also upped my cross training, core work and strength training game, but mostly over thee past week. I am making sure to focus on all muscle groups to build a strong running foundation.
I have continued to run three times a week, with one of the three a long run and two days of cross training which I’ve stuck to spin class and kickboxing. Ab work and arm weights have also been worked in. I also have stayed on top of stretching before and after working out, something I slack on normally, but it’s important that I take care of my body and prevent injuries now that we are getting closer.
I found running with my weekend running group has made long runs so enjoyable. Never have I ever expected to be able to run 6 plus miles without music, just talking and enjoying the run. It has been a major motivating force in my training, and I highly recommend finding a local running group to find support during training for longer distance races.
Bad winter weather (back to back Nor’easters) meant that some of my runs throughout these weeks had to be on the treadmill, including week 4’s 5 mile. It’s crazy how in just a month this is no longer considered long distance in my eyes or to my legs. I skipped one group run to run solo in Staten Island along the water, which was freezing cold that day. But even though I had plans all day, I made sure to get in those 6 miles, and honestly felt like I could keep on running if it wasn’t for the cold (and my bad ankle starting to get sore towards the end).
My shorter weekday runs have generally gotten stronger and faster (even its just by a few seconds). On days where I only needed to run 4.5 miles, I went on for an even 5.
My diet has also improved. I find myself still snacking to keep up with my growing appetite, but mainly reaching for healthy options like apples, crackers and cheese and nuts. Meal wise, I began making some recipes from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook like Superhero Muffins that are a must for long runs, as well as the delicious shrimp dinner. Eliminated more junk and processed foods for wholesome and nutritious options, but allowing myself to indulge when cravings hit like going for Enlightened ice cream.
Overall, this has been a great month for training, andI am seeing improvements every week. I look forward to incorporating more core work in the home stretch. I have two shorter distances races (a 5k and 10k) coming up before the big day, so will use these to further motivate and get excited for race day.