Hello Salty Running friends! I’m thrilled to be joining this wild group of women runners at an exciting time in my running life. I’m preparing to make my first attempt at breaking into the world of sub-elite marathon running this year.
After many years of being an average runner, better than average cyclist and poor swimmer, it was time to take my favorite sport seriously. I am dying to tell you about everything I’ve learned in the process of becoming a better runner.
But friends, before we go any further, let me give you some background.
Until about two years ago, I was pretty average. Back in 2001 I started running. It was halfway through my senior year of high school and I was 17. I didn’t do it as some grand athletic gesture, instead I began running as a way to get out of participating in gym class. I got more than I bargained for. I’m still humbled by how hard the process of becoming a runner was. It went something like this: run for a minute (about until I thought I was going to die). Then stop, walk, and repeat … for a whole class period. This was before the advent of phone apps that now make going from the couch to full-on runner sound more civilized. By the time the semester ended though, I was running three miles at a time. And the next year in college I started training for a marathon. I ran my first 26.2 at 19.
Like many clueless beginning runners, I put in relatively light mileage. It was probably always less than 35 miles per week at peak. I survived my share of running injuries. I’ve been run over by a car while running. I survived a second marathon after training on extremely light mileage. There was the year I quit running to take up road cycling and there were years I probably didn’t run except a few times on vacation. These are all parts of my life I’ll get to circle back to at some point in our future encounters, but the point is that I was not a collegiate or even high school athlete. I was always a pretty average runner.
Let’s jump ahead to a few years ago. Things sort of fell apart up to the point where I had a hard time with basic runs and didn’t have chance of finishing a half-marathon anymore. I was distracted and fell out of shape. But like most of born-runners something inside of me wouldn’t let my inner athlete go completely. After a year or so of being out of shape, it was time to pick back up when I left off. With some effort, things came back. I found a local bike group. Before too long, I started to take these sports seriously again and was back to running and cycling five or six days a week. I closed 2012 with a 1:48 half-marathon. The next year I worked a bit harder. The highlight of the year was getting up at 4am on my thirtieth birthday to run “Dawn Patrol,” our 20 mile morning bike route. Between cycling and running, I was training about 10-13 hours a week and getting faster. It was an exciting time. My 2013 season ended in November for major surgery.
Recovery was a bitch, which brings us to this year. I resumed running regularly late in January and built up to 50 miles per week by March. I always wanted to try the Hanson’s Marathon Method but didn’t think I could handle it. So I gave myself a test: I ran my very first 70 mile week on a treadmill at the end of March – and survived. I ordered a copy of Hanson’s training plan, and tried to hold my mileage at about 70-80 miles per week while doing Hanson’s workouts on a modified version of the advanced training plan.
Magical things happened at high mileage. I lost about five pounds (which increases VO2 Max slightly). I was getting faster even though I was putting in fewer total training hours than when I was also cycling. I ran a 1:38 half marathon in May. Then four weeks later, I ran the same course in 1:34. I ran a Yasso-800 workout indicating a 2:59 marathon was possible. Then I ran a 1:29 half marathon a few weeks ago. This was while holding an average training volume of about 75 miles per week with no day off (and occasionally doubles). It was time to “go big or go home.” This was the time to stop dreaming about sub-3:00 marathons and make a plan to go for it.
That’s where we’ll pick up the story in our future encounters. I’ve got a let to tell you about a whole bunch of things like self coaching, sticking to your training plan when traveling, finding healthy snacks to sustain your high mileage training and of course my progress as I try to move up in the running world.
A bit over two years ago, I had a hard time running a two-hour half marathon. This fall at The Columbus Marathon, I’ll be making my first attempt at a three-hour marathon, my first attempt at qualifying into the world of sub-elite marathon running!