{A few questions/advice-needed at the end of the post; thanks for letting me count on you!}

Can we just have a moment of silence about the fact that this half-marathon is less than four weeks away? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a little jolt of panic last night at the thought. I’m not entirely sure I’ll be ready. Or if I even know what being ready means. Aaaah!

Thank goodness I have these in my pantry for some consolation.

After last week’s roller coaster of insane craziness, the runs this week happened with a bit less drama (thanks to lots of early morning running).

-Monday I ran four miles at 5:30 a.m. at the school track with some ladies from church who are deciding whether or not they want to run a half-marathon. We all went at our own pace and it was nice to have track companionship.

-Tuesday was a 40-minute toning DVD (little bit old school video I’ve had for years) in the early a.m. before the kids got up. My legs were shaky walking up and down stairs for a couple days after.

-Wednesday I ran three miles outside around 6 a.m. This was a brutal run for me, I have this place on the back of my knee that is killing me when I run. My limited anat/phys knowledge + some google searching tells me it’s some kind of inflammation on my hamstring tendon. All I really know is that it hurts. I’m not sure if it’s related to some of the hamstring soreness I’ve had on that leg for a few months but for the first time, I iced the back of my leg after running.

-Thursday was a three mile run on the treadmill in the early morning. My leg pain seemed to be a bit better, which I was grateful for – not sure if that’s because I generally run slower on the treadmill or because I iced it the day before, but for whatever reason, it didn’t hurt quite as bad.

-Friday was a rest day. I was going to do another non-running workout but the kids had school off for the day and we spent the morning weeding and cleaning out the garage so we could play in the afternoon and quite honestly, I was ready for a rest day (is that bad?).

-Saturday I was happy that all I had to fit in was four miles. I tackled it in the morning before soccer, grocery shopping and yard work took over my life. It had been a rainy few days and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to run outside (dreading the thought of the treadmill) but it was actually beautiful, cool weather (albeit lots of puddles) and the run was fine. I deliberately went slower than I usually do because of the pain in the back of my right leg and I think that helped. I iced it again and while it still feels painful, it’s not nearly as bad as it’s been the last couple of weeks.

Training Week 16

This Week

After a relatively easy week last week, I have three killer weeks ahead (long runs of 9, 11, 10). This week it will be 3 miles Monday, cross-train Tuesday, five miles Wednesday, three miles Thursday, rest or cross-train Friday and nine miles (hold me) Saturday.

Just like last week, I’m hoping to get all the running done in the morning since it’s the last week of school and after looking ahead to the week’s schedule, I kind of want to hide away forever and let someone else get through this week for me. Anyone, anyone?

A Correction + FitBit Randomness + Questions

-I take back what I said last week about running the Top of Utah half-marathon. I think instead I’m going to sign up for a local half at the end of September (probably this one) so my good friend, Deb, can run it with me (she just had a new baby and the less travel the better). Either way, though, hoping to run a 2nd half sometime this year.

-Do you have a FitBit? I got one for Christmas last year and wear it off and on. A couple friends here use theirs religiously and have started inviting me to their daily challenges. I’m not going to lie, I had this smug moment of “dude, I’m training for a half marathon, they don’t stand a chance” before I started accepting the challenges and then quickly had my pride taken down a notch when I saw how they all get between 15-20,000 steps every.single.stinking.day. I don’t even come close to that with my weekly running schedule and everything…which causes me to look like a weirdo as I walk in place while I brush my teeth and fold laundry and type up blog posts just to amp up my steps a bit. Pathetic. The only time I’ve crossed over the 20,000 threshold was the day I ran 8 miles and heaven knows I’m not doing that every day. I told my one friend the other day I think I better be done with the FitBit challenges – it’s hard on my self-confidence and usually I get so frustrated that I’m lagging behind in steps that I decide a late-night piece of chocolate cake is the only clear choice.

-I usually listen to an audiobook for the 1st half of the run (no matter the distance) and then pump up the music (Pandora stations) the last half. It’s a good motivator for me knowing that halfway I can get reenergized by switching from book to music. Having said that, I just finished my last audiobook and need some good recommendations. Help!

-Half-marathon training plans are as varied as chocolate chip cookie recipes. My particular training schedule had my longest run at 10 miles (two weeks in a row) but I’m nervous I won’t be prepared for the full 13 so I bumped one of those long runs up to 11 (or maybe 12). For those of you that have trained for and run a half-marathon – what’s the longest distance you ran while training? Everyone says the adrenaline and “race experience” will get me through to the finish but I’m not sure those “everyones” have the same mental block as I do. I’m afraid I’ll hit a wall at 10 miles in the race thinking “I’ve never run farther than this; I MUST QUIT NOW!” Advice?

-Ok, I think that’s it. If you don’t hear from me next week it’s because there’s a high likelihood I won’t be able to move any muscle in my body (not even my fingers) after running nine miles on Saturday.

I hope you had a great week last week! Let me know all the details…I love every single one.

30 Responses to Training Update: Week #16

  1. Sara H. says:

    I am always late commenting on these running posts but I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and say that last year when I trained for a half marathon my longest run was a little over 10 miles and I was totally fine for race day. I do remember training for my first full marathon and I remember feeling like I was definitely not going to be ready unless I got really really close to running the full 26 miles beforehand. I ran a 20 mile run in training for that first race and I told a friend (and seasoned marathon runner) that I felt like there was NO way I could do the whole marathon since it was so so hard for me to do the 20 miler. She just chuckled and said if I could do 20 then I could absolutely do the whole 26. I didn’t understand it at the time but I trusted in her experience and I was just fine for race day. Anyway, my thought is just to reassure you that you will be ready when it comes down to it. I understand that your position is different than my position ever has been in a race mainly because your training is more publicized than mine ever has been and this you must feel a little more pressure to perform but you have got this. Don’t panic. Even if you need to walk a bit of the race, you will finish and it will feel great. Keep it up!

  2. Rita says:

    i agree with ice and rest for the pain. I pushed thru hip/hamstring pain two years ago while training for a full marathon and I am still paying for it. But I’m back to Running again which is good. Regarding books….my go-to is a podcast called craft-lit. Heather does classic lit and provides cliff-notes for them. Makes them so much more enjoyable and understandable. You can skip the crafty stuff if you want. It’s free too, unless you chose to subscribe for extra books.

  3. Katheryn says:

    Regarding the pain. Ice is important, but regular stretching is my number one advice. Many runners tend to not stretch enough. Adding an extra 5 minutes at the end of a run to stretch is so important. Foam rolling once or twice a week will really help, and if you don’t have a foam roller, a rolling pin works. I do yoga once a week, 10 minutes of stretching every day and foam rolling once a week. It’s such a life saver!

    10 miles is fine for half-marathon training. You may not think so, but going into a race a bit underprepared is so much better than being over prepared. What is your long run a week before the race? I always go up to 10 or 11, and then the week before I only run 6. It feels so light and easy and I always have to talk myself out of going longer, but then the next week I am more than ready to run 13.1, and I can usually knock it out of the park.

    I love listening to podcasts during my training runs. For a race I have periods of listening to music and turning it off and being totally in the race, but for training I am all about the podcasts. Some of my favorites are: Spilled Milk, Sorta Awesome Megan, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Another Mother Runner, Hamish & Andy, The Art of Simple Podcast.

  4. You are doing so well! I can’t believe the race is only 4 weeks away. I have been following along, silently (in a totally not-creepy way, promise) and I am so happy that you are getting so close!
    My first half marathon I trained completely on a treadmill and my longest run was only 18km (11ish miles) I ran all the way through to the end of the race without a problem, so you will be amazing. It’s usually adrenaline and endorphins that kick you through the last three miles anyway 🙂 and the people you are running alongside.
    When it comes to entertainment, I am all about the podcast! No matter what you are interested in, there is someone out there talking about it. I love Stuff Mom Never Told You, Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, oh and The Splendid Table (listening to food stuff while running makes me run faster 🙂 ).
    Good luck with the next week of training!

  5. Erin says:

    Oh, and as for books go…I usually listen to general conference talks while I run. I love the inspiring words to start the day and with 6 kids I don’t usually get to fully listen the day of conference so it helps me catch up on what I missed! But I love changing it up and listening to music too (:

  6. Erin says:

    Mel, you are going to do great. It’s true what they say, the adrenaline will kick in and keep you going. When I did my half in February, the longest I had run was 9 miles. Towards the end of my training, I started to get shin splints and decided to lay off running for the last ten days before the race. I knew it would be hard but it was the right choice! You can do it!

  7. Cara says:

    Hey Mel, my longest run outside when I trained for my half was only 7 miles. I did 10 miles on my treadmill. Even though I didn’t get much training done outside, I was still able to reach my goal with my half! I second (or tenth) the suggestion for icing! After a longer run, I actually sit in an ice bath. it’s sorta like torture, but it seriously helps so much! Also make sure you’re getting your protein in!

    • Mel says:

      10 miles on a treadmill makes me want to weep, Cara! Way to go. That ice bath is going to be the death of me – several of you have suggested it and I’m scared but think it’s probably the only way to go.

  8. Tanya M. says:

    Way to get all those runs in early!! I love checking off exercising early in the day… but it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. 😉 Sorry about the leg/knee pain! I hope it goes away soon with the ice/rest/stretching?!
    Keep up the great work! We’ll be thinking of you on Saturday with your nine miler! Just put a couple of those dark choc peanut butter cups in your belt for 6, 7, 8 miles… that’ll give you some umph to finish! Of course when you’re done you can reward yourself with the whole container! 😉

    • Tanya M. says:

      Oh and about audio books… I’m just finishing reading Ghost Boy, by Martin Pistorius… its an *amazing* book about a South African boy who got sick and then was trapped for years inside his non-functioning body but his mind was alert and aware of everything… and how he came out of it. Truly inspiring!! Makes me not want to complain about any aspect of my easy-peesy life!! Not sure how the audio book is ( I’m reading the actual book…) but I highly recommend it!
      Good luck on those long runs!!

      • Mel says:

        Haha! Tanya – I just read your comment on my giveaway post and laughed out loud. That post-it note from your husband is the best.

  9. Laura says:

    Mel, I love reading about your training. I hope your pain goes away and you can keep running. I just recently found this pin on Pinterest. http://www.tinyoranges.com/2014/08/04/books-you-cant-put-down/
    So far I’ve read Gone Girl and When She Woke, and I’m currently reading The Snow Child. All very good and hard to put down.

  10. Brittany Bell says:

    Just wanted to add one more thought that I didn’t see anyone else make. Usually a training plan is designed to build you up continuously until about a week before your race, and then have you taper the week before the race. This is mostly designed to help you ‘peak’ on race day. You are well rested and ready for a long run. If you overtrain (as some have mentioned), you may peak before your race. Your body may be in recovery mode on race day.

    I usually train up to 10 miles and then taper to 5-6 miles the Saturday before with two 2-3 milers Monday and Wednesday before race day.

    Everyone is different, but that has worked for me. I feel prepared but not fatigued for race day.

  11. Mel says:

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. You’ve given me a lot to think about with my training! I’m going to see how my run goes on Wednesday and decide how/when/if I need to cut back on some of my training runs. I think instead of worrying about strength training over the next few weeks until the race on my XT days, I’ll focus instead on stretching, yoga and maybe a little bike riding. Your input is so valuable to me. Thank you!

  12. Becca says:

    I ran my first half a week ago and my longest run was 10.5 miles. I think if you can get to 10, you will have no problem. I think the last three miles went by the fastest (mentally, not literally) for me because I was so excited to finish and it was exciting to think to myself “three more! Two more! ONE MORE MILE!!!” You can do it!!!

    • Jessica says:

      My two cents:

      1. Ive trained for 3 marathons and 5 halfs and I’ve always done the longer runs (22 miles all 3 marathons and 11-12 for the halfs). I just needed to know I’d gotten within 80% of the finished thing. That being said I think you could run it tomorrow if you had to AND that advice of concentrating on the long runs earlier is right on. I had a friend dealing with injury on our last marathon and she ran only the long runs the last half of the training and she had a great race.

      2. Audiobooks: Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. (Read by him and he’s awesome at it. It’s light and engaging and he’s a pretty good writer!). Something borrowed by Emily giffen (fun chick lit and an excellent audio reader.)

      3. Made the foil packet taco things tonight. SO SO SO yummy.

  13. Ada says:

    If you are in pain, please consider pausing your training until the pain subsides! I know it sounds scary and you feel like you won’t be ready for the race, but honestly, I bet you could run that race today if you had to. 🙂

    While you wait for the pain to go away, you can devote your time to some physical therapy for that poor hamstring! (A simple Google should give you a few exercise ideas.) When I was training for my first half last year, I had a huge flair up of my patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka, runner’s knee – but that makes it sound so commonplace – haha) and foolishly kept running on it, which only made matters worse until I was forced to stop running completely. I only got four runs in during the month before that half marathon and the farthest I ran before the race (because of the injury) was 8 miles. This year I did the same race, but now that I do a 15 minute PT routine most mornings to keep my knee happy I didn’t have any problems with injury during my training and I was able to stick with my training schedule fairly well. The farthest I ran before this half was 11 miles. Remember, pain is your body trying to tell you something’s wrong!

    • Michelle says:

      I had the same thing happen to me. Three weeks before my 25k my knee started acting up during my 14 mile run. I pushed through it, but ended up missing the race because my knee hurt to bad to keep running on it. I was pretty disappointed but glad that I stopped before I did anything permanent. I went to the doctor and he diagnosed me with runner’s knee.
      What exercises do you do for your knee? I could use a few to help me get over this.

      I remember the first time I ran nine, it was a great run and I cried when I got home. HEHE! Something about exerting myself that much always makes me cry. Keep up the good work!
      One of the girls I was training with gave me good advice. She told me it is better to undertrain than over train. She told me to skip the short runs and focus on the long ones. So toward the end of my training I stopped running during the week and just did a few strengthening exercises. Hope this helps you!

      • Ada says:

        Hi Michelle!

        I’m sorry to hear that you’ve also had to deal with runner’s knee in your life. It’s so frustrating, because I find it way too easy to just ignore the pain until it’s too late! I’ve had great luck following these exercises on regular basis (once a day is ideal, but, you know . . . life) : http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome/treatment.html.

        It also helps to understand the cause of the pain. Because runner’s knee is a “syndrome” it can be caused by all sorts of different things. In my case, the pain is caused by my overpronation which results in very (very!) tight calves that start to pull my patella in strange directions. I do wear stability shoes (Mizuno Wave Inspire) to try to keep the overpronation at bay and on runs over 7 miles, I tape up my knees. During my training last month, I *finally* put together that if I can keep my calves loose, my knee pain is basically nonexistent. I’ve been struggling with knee pain since I was a teenager, so it’s a little embarrassing that it took me so long! If I just take 30 seconds a handful of times throughout the day to “touch my toes” and stretch out my calves, it makes my runs (and run recovery) so much better! Hope that helps and good luck!!

  14. Mollie says:

    Ice, ice and more ice! Tendon injuries/inflammation can be tricky, but I’ve found the biggest help to be icing. When ever you get a chance, throw some ice on for 20 minutes. Ibuprofen is also great. You just want to make sure you get the inflammation under control.
    As far as how far to run for your first half, I did my first half last year, and was following kind of a crazy training plan. I wanted to get under 2 hours, so I found a training plan for that specific time. It had me running 16(!) miles at the end of my training. I only ended up going up to 15. The nice part was I was really well trained. The bad part was that was a lot of running and time commitment. Whenever I told people about my training plan, they thought I was a little cuckoo. But, I ran that half in under 2, and wasn’t even very sore the next day. The day after that 15 mile run, that was a different story. That being said, I’m following a more conservative plan this time around, and I only go up to 12 miles. I think that last 3 miles would be pretty hard mentally for me if I hadn’t gone up to 12. But you have to make sure your training plan helps you build those miles slowly, so you don’t get injured. And then always, always listen to your body, and cut a run short if something doesn’t feel right. No sense in getting injured right there at the end of training.
    I wasn’t quite as good as you about getting out early every run last week, but I got up this morning at 5:30, so I’m back on track. And the sun is up by then now, so it’s been getting easier. Good luck this week!

  15. Rachael says:

    I think you may be overtraining a bit–I would recommend that you do two rest days, especially when you’re in pain–if you’re having trouble walking after the cross-training workouts, that’s really going to affect your biomechanics when you run. When I’m training for something, I find that I get to a point where I have to be really super careful about cross-training. (Nothing with sudden movements, esp. side-to-side, so things like swimming, cycling, walking, and yoga are fine, but tennis, soccer, etc. are the kiss of death.) You can read a lot more about this but there are definitely certain types of cross-training that are “okay” when you’re running, and others that will lead to injury.

    Re your long runs–I have done it both ways, and I found that going too long made my race times worse! I would stick with 10 miles, especially since this is your first race, and cut it down by a lot the weekend before when you’re tapering. With my first half-marathon, I ran 12 miles before the race; with my second, my longest run was 10 miles and I knocked 9 minutes off my time (and I was 3 months pregnant!). You really will be fine for those last 3 miles. Marathon training programs will almost always tell you not to go any longer than 20 miles because the risk of injury ramps up so dramatically after that point, and I was totally freaking out about those last 6.2 miles, but you know what? That was when I felt strongest! It was kind of exciting for each step to be the furthest I’d ever run.

    I have a half-marathon this Saturday, and last Sat. I ran 8 miles; the week before that was 12, but I ONLY did that because I’m using this half-marathon as part of marathon training. If I were just doing the half, I would max out at 10 miles and just keep my runs there for a few weeks, then drop down to 7-8 the weekend before the race.

    The best thing to do is to run as little as you have to in training to produce the best results on race day. That way you conserve your strength and health for the actual race.

  16. Mary says:

    Injuries are the most frustrating thing about running for me. I trained and trained for my first half and two weeks before, my knee basically gave out. I only made it up to nine miles. I rested and prayed for a miracle for two weeks and I was able to finish my first Half in Ogden, Utah this weekend. So ten miles is enough in my opinion. Adrenaline really did pull me through the last three miles, and I think it’s important not to put too many miles on your body, especially if you are trying to avoid injury.

    I listen to the exact same thing! Audiobook first, then music when I need a pick me up. My latest books were The Hiding Place (which was a little heavy, but so inspiring), and Cold Sassy Tree. I laughed so hard reading Cold Sassy. I actually ended up saving it to only listen to when I run because I didn’t want to finish it before my race.

    I want you to know that I would never have run that Half without that initial blog post on Mel’s KC. I hadn’t run since high school sports, and this weekend I ran 13.1. Thank you so much for teaching me that we can to hard things. And for motivating me the whole way through.

    • Mel says:

      I loved your comment, Mary! Congratulations on your half-marathon. I’m so happy that you were able to run it after the issues with your knee! I am so proud of you; so, so proud!

  17. Sheila says:

    You can do this, Mel! Humbleness is good for the soul and to get you back to reality (FitBit). 🙂 You are doing great but remember all you want to do is finish not be in the #1 position leaving the others back behind you for miles. 🙂 Here’s a a short article I thought might inspire you and maybe encourage your heart as this race looms closely before you. http://www.self.com/fitness/2015/05/the-7-things-no-one-ever-tells-you-about-running-a-half-marathon/ She’s a runner and shares her first running experience with a half marathon and advice for new runners. Number 7 applies to you. She is now an experienced runner and continues with running despite first time races. You have already accomplished huge milestones so now just relax and enjoy the rest of the journey. Glad to hear you have changed your mind and are thinking about running with Deb in a local race. You will still get far more enjoyment and put a lot less strain on your personal schedule while still focusing on your goal of running.

    • Mel says:

      You are right, Sheila – the humility is probably a good thing! 🙂 Thanks for the article…I loved every word. Good to hear from those who’ve done this before and it’s true that crossing the finish line will be a personal victory no matter the pace.

  18. Liz says:

    Re the pain…

    Ice! and more Ice for the inflammation/pain. Last year with horrible “tennis elbow” I found some info that icing was beneficial as a therapy even after injury – and worked well for many for tennis elbow. I’d been told before that just the day of injury. Anyway, I iced 3-4 times per day and although I prefer taking turmeric for anti-inflammatory, I switched to several days of Advil. I went from not being able to pick up my coffee cup to just a twinge on rare occasions.

    Similar experience this year with knee pain that I allowed to change my walking stride which then affected my hip flexor. Several days of icing, Advil, stretching and making sure I walked a bit every hour with a normal stride.

    Everyone’s different, but this worked for me twice, so I am a believer. I have a couple of gel packs with Velcro bands so I can move around while icing.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for the advice, Liz. I think you are right – I should be icing more than just after my runs. Will do that for sure! Glad your tennis elbow is only rarely twinging and not causing big problems!

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