If you missed it, back in August I set a goal to get back to my goal weight and PR my 10K (a time of 49:22 or better). I dropped the weight and reached goal (133 pounds) just before Thanksgiving, and started 10K specific training at the end of November. Last Sunday, I ran my goal race and finished in 49:03! (Early in 2015, my weight was up to 160 and my 10K pace was around 11:00/mile.) I was thrilled with the PR, and I'm still kind of in shock that I actually pulled it off.
- I started doing my easy runs REALLY easy (by keeping my heart rate low). I think this was a huge factor in getting me to my goal. (I started doing this on 12/24.)
- I got to my goal weight before I started 10K-specific training. I knew that in order to run my best, I couldn't be carrying any extra pounds.
- I ran a 5K race at the beginning of my 10K-specific training to see where my current fitness level was. I am so glad I did that! It helped to see the numbers improving during training.
- I tried to keep 80% or more of my weekly training at a truly easy pace, and less than 20% at a moderate or hard pace.
- I started out by following this plan, but after several weeks, I used a more intuitive approach. I kept with the pattern of five days of running per week, including 1-2 speed sessions (maintaining the 80/20 ratio), but I used my intuition to tell me how many miles to run and on which days. A lot of times, I didn't even know what type of run I was going to do until I was half a mile into it, so that I could see how I felt. (I don't recommend that beginners do this, but it worked well for me.)
- When I did my speed sessions, I gave it everything I had. My interval pace improved pretty much every time I did a speed session. I think this is because I did my easy runs VERY easy.
- I rotated four different pairs of shoes so that my feet wouldn't get used to just one particular model. Not sure if this helped at all, but I figured it was worth a try. I do have a "favorite" pair, though--my Brooks Ghost 8's--and that's what I used for my race pace runs and the race itself.
- I did two tune-up races: a 5K at the beginning of February, and a 4-miler at the end of February. The 5K went really well, and I actually set a new PR. The 4-miler was a bad race, and I crashed at the 2-mile mark.
- Race pace runs were the biggest confidence builder in my training. Once I did a few of those, I felt much better about my training. Next time, I don't think I'll do them--I'll just stick to tempo intervals (2- or 3-mile intervals near race pace)--because I don't think they are necessary to my physical performance (they just helped with my confidence).
- I averaged about 21 miles (a little over 3.5 hours) per week.
- I included a warm-up for all of my speed sessions (and sometimes a cool down).
- I knew that having someone pace me during the race would help, so I enlisted my BFF Thomas. I chose him because he's not afraid to call me out on my bullshit, and when I inevitably would try to quit, he wouldn't let me. It worked very well at mile four of the race!
- I chose an out-of-state race, but next time, I don't think I'd do that. My stomach felt all messed up a couple of days before the race, probably due to drinking and eating food I'm not used to.
- I did all of my training on flat roads, knowing that the race course was flat. I didn't expect the long gravel portion of the race, and I wish I'd trained better for that. It threw me for a loop, and messed with my confidence during the race. Next time, I want to look at the race course well to be prepared.
- I had no plans of running faster than I'd stated in my goal. I knew if I went out too fast at the beginning, I would likely crash during the race; so, I told Thomas not to let me go any faster than 7:50, even if I felt on top of the world. I'm glad I did this, because I had a very difficult race starting around mile 3.5, and I had zero energy to spare. Three of my splits were actually over 8:00/mile.
- My race morning breakfast was a Larabar at 5:00 am and another Larabar at 7:00 am (450 calories total of mostly carbs). No coffee or tea. Five cups of water at 5:00 am. I had no stomach issues.
- It was 50 degrees and overcast for the race (PERFECT running weather). I wore HeatGear capris and a tank. I left my phone in the car, because it felt heavy around my waist, and I'm glad I did that. I didn't need it during the run, obviously, so leaving it the car was a good idea.
- I was VERY public about my goal from the beginning, and I later regretted that because I felt so much pressure to hit it. However, I don't think I would have hit my goal if I hadn't been so public about it. Since everybody knew my goal, I worked extra hard to make it happen. It would have been embarrassing not to do it!
I'm still so excited about hitting this goal! It makes me look forward to choosing another challenge and working hard to make it happen (not sure if I'll announce it or not--I'm enjoying not feeling any pressure right now! haha).
Anyway, here are the weekly stats of my training (these stats include my easy runs AND speed work, so I'm not sure how helpful they'll be):