My big goal race this spring is the Reading Half Marathon on 18 March. I was asked to be an Ambassador for the race back in December and started training for it in January. I’m now at the halfway point of my training and thought I’d check in to tell you how I am doing.
Setting a time goal
It took me a while to settle on a time goal. When I was asked to be an Ambassador for the race in December I was at the end of a training cycle for another half which I was running for fun rather than a time. I was going to base my goal for Reading on the results of that race. Unfortunately, my December race was postponed due to heavy snow! So without a previous time to base my goal on I had to look to my training.
My training had been going very well, with lots of enjoyable runs and pretty comfortable long runs. I felt I had a good endurance base from running the Bournemouth Marathon in October but I hadn’t actually ran a road half marathon on my own since my very first half way back in 2014. My result from running my first half in Birmingham was 2:12:28. I thought I could run a faster time but my confidence in setting my goal was wavering.
It wasn’t until I attended the Reading Half Marathon training day that I finally set my goal. One of the speakers talked about setting realistic goals that are achievable with the time you have to train. This is something I always discuss with my runners when I’m creating a training plan for them so I knew this is what I should do. But it wasn’t until someone told me this is what I should do that I listened to my own advice!
So I decided to set my goal time for Reading as running it in 2:10.
Training on three days a week
I often get asked how many days a week you should train for a particular race. My answer is always it depends. It depends on what you are training for, what your other commitments are and what other activities you do.
For me I have to fit my training around my coaching, my running groups, my office job and family. I also like to include yoga and strength work to my training week so I set a three runs a week training plan for Reading. This includes a speed session, an easy run and a long run. I count running with my beginners running group as my easy run and have been running an additional mile on my own after the end of the group session.
This intensity of training works well for me as I feel that I can put in an effort and still have time for other things.
Speedy runs for a speedy time
Speed sessions are really important when you are trying to run a PB. They can be pretty tough but I’ve really enjoyed my speed sessions so far!
For a half marathon I would usually include tempo runs, Fartleks, progression runs and intervals. However, I’ve joined a fellow coach’s weekly interval sessions for people training for spring half marathons and marathons. We meet at a local public track and she has us running pyramids, 400m, 800m and 1200m repeats and gave us a mile time trial. It’s really great doing my speed sessions with other people who have big spring goals.
The biggest surprise from these speed sessions was my mile time trial. Unbelievably it was the first one I’ve ever done (I know I should hand in my coach badge now!) and I ran my mile in 7:31. Coach Marion has said this is a good indication for a sub 2 hour half marathon, which is a big confidence boost for my 2:10 goal.
Sticking to a goal
Sometimes when the training is going really well it’s tempting to change your goal halfway through. Personally, I could be tempted to change my goal to something more ambitious, say sub 2:05 or even sub 2. However, I am sticking to my 2:10 goal as this is what I have been training for and changing my training with only 5 weeks to go could cause problems.
I’d rather stick to my 2:10 goal and see what the day produces!
Highlights so far
Running a 7:31 mile was definitely a highlight! But I’ve also had some great runs in the snow, in the woods spotting snowdrops, some amazing morning runs in the mist with the sun rising and running with my beginners group in the cold and dark!
I’ve got 5 more weeks to get prepared. I still have to do my longest run of 12 miles and a couple of race pace sandwich runs (where I run at race pace in the middle of a long run) but I’m feeling confident and happy.
How about you? Are you running a half marathon this spring or another goal race?