March 21, 2014

I went sub-2:00 and you can too!

After hitting my sub-2:00 half marathon goal on Sunday, I’ve received a few questions about how I trained, how I did it and advice I could share. While I am not a running coach, nor any sort of trainer, I know what worked for me so I’ll share that with you today. 

1. Commit. If you really want to go for a sub-2:00 half marathon, or any big goal for that matter, commit to it 100%. I picked a race that gave me 7 weeks to train and it was the right amount of time for me to dedicate myself to the goal. It also wasn't enough time for me to get burned out.

2. Pick the right race. I selected a race that I had run previously and that is also local, meaning I was familiar with the course and could avoid the added hassle/headache of traveling for race day. There is nothing like sleeping in your own bed the night before a big race!  Find a race that gives you the best chance of achieving your goal, based on your race preferences.

3. Pick a plan. I used the training plan from Run Less, Run Faster that was based on a 5k PR time that I ran in December 2013. Using the pace charts in the book, I was able to figure workout paces for speed work of varying distances, tempo and long runs. Note that based on my 5k time, my estimated half marathon finish is 1:45.  The paces I trained with were for that time, which I knew wasn’t a realistic goal but I decided to stick with them. I found the plan easy to follow and liked the specificity of it. It didn’t require me to think about workouts – just try to do them the best that I was able.  But let me be clear...those workouts kicked my booty on many nights!  

4. Take care of your body. I stretched and foam rolled religiously. I also did balance (something new for my finicky piriformis/hip issues) and core exercises to keep my body healthy and strong. Even though my running workouts were hard, I tried to stay very diligent in other aspects of my training as well. And don’t underestimate the importance of eating and hydrating properly. I paid extra attention to my diet throughout this training cycle and worked hard to keep it healthy and balanced.

5. Be consistent. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. I definitely didn’t have every workout go perfectly, but I kept after it. I didn’t skip workouts unless my body told me I needed a break. And let’s be honest, we all know the difference between laziness, rationalizing that our body needs a break (when it doesn’t), and really truly needing a break due to excessive fatigue, illness or injury. Know the difference and don’t let yourself slack!

6. Keep tabs on your weight. I am by no means recommending that you go on a crash diet prior to a race, but keeping your weight in check helps. I was diligent to make sure I didn’t gain weight during training as I wanted to be as light as possible on race day. This is hard for me because I notice that my appetite increases significantly when I’m training for 13.1, whereas with 26.2 training, my appetite decreases significantly.

7. Change up your workouts. I mixed up my long runs between road runs and trail runs. I pushed the pace on roads and embraced the challenge of hilly trails. This helped keep me interested in my runs since the scenery changed and I also think the trails helped keep my legs strong since I was working different muscles than on the road.

 8. Find a training partner(s) with the same goal. I was lucky to have a good friend training for the same goal over the same general time frame. It was nice to share successful runs and disastrous ones, training woes, and nerves as my race day got closer. I found this to be tremendously helpful throughout the training cycle and I can't wait to cheer on my buddy when she races in a few weeks!

Have you ever tackled a major time goal?  How did you approach it?
{Christine}

44 comments:

  1. I plan on training for a major time goal in November at the Philadelphia Marathon (haven't decided if I'm running the half or full yet but either way there will be a significant time goal). I appreceiate these tips as I'll begin that journey in the summer. It's a HUGE commitment!
    I loved following your hard work! Congratulations!! :)
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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    1. The key for me with staying committed was a short training cycle - so much more palatable! Good luck with that goal Karen - can't wait to cheer you on! :)

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  2. Thanks for the great tips Christine! I would really love to get a sub-2 hour half marathon sometime in the next year. I'm going to look into that run less run faster plan!

    Congrats again!!

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    1. We have both used that plan and have had good results. Beware - it will feel very challenging at first! :)

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  3. I REALLY agree with the last two! A change of scenery and / or music really helps perk up a dead routine! And I am much more likely to show up and push the pace if I have someone else for accountability! Congrats on your sub-2!

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    1. Thanks Amy! Totally agree on accountability - definitely helps a lot when you're pushing yourself.

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  4. These are great tips, Christine! Do you think if I work doubly hard on each of them I could go sub-4 at NYCM this fall? Uh oh, did I just say that goal out loud? Haha. Seriously, you did an amazing job this past weekend! I see a 1:45 in your not-too-distant future!

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    1. Absolutely - that is perfectly logical, Jen! :) If you have the change, I would strongly recommend considering a pace group on race day. That was really a huge help for me because you don't have to expend mental energy worrying about your pace...you just run and follow the sign/neon singlet.

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  5. Great job on your run on Sunday. I know Lacey was so excited for you! Keep up the good work girl!

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    1. Thanks so much! :) Lacey was a huge help for me during training - always good to train with someone faster than you.

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  6. This is my ultimate goal! Thanks for the tips and congrats again on reaching such an amazing goal!

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    1. Karen - I was thinking you already had a sub-2 in the bag. You TOTALLY can do this! :)

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  7. Great tips Christine! I'm going to check out Run Less, Run Faster!

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    1. Thanks Mindy! We really love that training plan. It has some great info on nutrition and other things as well. It's $12 on Amazon...can you tell I've recommended it a bunch? ;)

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  8. Thanks for this, Christine! While I'm nowhere near a sub 2 half, I do have some pretty lofty goals (for me) for my next marathon. This is good stuff!

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    1. Jaime - No matter what your time, it's always exciting to achieve the next big time goal. I remember getting under 2:15 and thought that was a big deal....incremental improvements are awesome. Good luck chasing your marathon goals!

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  9. Congrats!! Great post, and super timely, as I've been questioning whether I could go sub-2:00 this year. I really, really don't want that pressure at a Disney race, and think it's a great tip to choose something local.

    What sort of stretching routine do you recommend? I admittedly skip it too, too often and think it's also because I haven't found one I truly like. (Although who really enjoys stretching? lol)

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    1. I love the idea of going for it at a local race...but I've PR'ed at quite a few Disney races so running fast at Disney is possible! :)

      I do lots of hip/IT band stretches because that's a problem area. After speaking with a trainer at the gym, she also recommended I focus on my hamstrings as a complementary muscle group. No specific stretching routine...I'd look online at Runner's World or Competitor...they always seem to have options.

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  10. Great tips! I think no matter what the goal, these are the right way to go after them. I cannot echo the "other" parts of training are critical. My training this cycle has been very different, partially because in addition to pushingmybody hard with speed work, I've been cross-training with a really intense local gym. I'm getting added cardio training, in addition to functional strength and yoga that is definitely changing my body positively, and improving my running.

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    1. I agree 100%! A big goal, is a big goal, no matter what the time. Can't wait to see how you do later this year - I think you're gonna have a rockin race!

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  11. Great tips, Christine! You're so right about consistency. I was burned out after doing the Portland Marathon and Wine and Dine within a month and took a break from running. I really struggled with getting back into a regular routine. Since I've been back at it I've been doing speed work and weights but keep feeling like there's more I could be doing. I'll check out Run Less, Run Faster too!

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    1. It's hard to get back into training after a hefty training cycle. I'm enjoying my down time now. And yes, we love Run Less, Run Faster!

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  12. This is great -- and highly affirming that I'm on the right track! C O N G R A T S !!

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  13. Congratulations on your PR!! That's so fantastic! You are a Wonder Woman <3

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  14. These are great suggestions, thank you! You and your mom both are really amazing and help make goals seem achievable! Can I be the both of you when I grow up? :)

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    1. Haha you're silly Tania! We have both worked really hard towards specific goals and have been really fortunate to see it translate on race day.

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  15. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures sweetie!! What an amazing trip!

    Diana
    www.ManhattanImageandStyle.com / www.MISBoutique.storenvy.com
    New Blog Post: [Outfit Idea] PoP of Print
    Previews Blog Post: [Inspiration] 7 Steps to Conquer Your Closet This Spring

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  16. My big goal was to beat a 2:20 in New Orleans - now that I've done that, I'm setting my sights on the Goofy Challenge, that will be my big goal. I've definitely been struggling with my weight - great reminder to keep it in check!

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    1. Woohoo! Goofy challenge is an awesome goal...I might be signing up for it :)

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  17. Great tips!! What was your half PR prior to this?

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    1. Hey Carla, My previous PR was 2:03 from Disneyland Half in September.

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  18. Congrats! These are great tips - and ones that I've definitely used to achieve my running goals too. My goal is to run 3:15 in the marathon - in 2012 I training my butt off to achieve that goal at Boston. Unfortunately the weather was 92 degrees and I didn't get my goal (ran 3:34) but I'll be back and I will get my goal! :)

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    1. That is a smokin' fast marathon time!! You will get back there...you just need one of those perfect running days with cool temps, sun, no wind and a fast course! ;)

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  19. I got my sub 2 half marathon earlier this year and I agree with everything you said. It took a lot of commitment but I knew that it was something I really wanted to do and that made it easier to work for it. Congrats to you!

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    1. Congrats girl! Having a 1 in front of that time feels amazing! :)

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  20. I'm trying to follow your example for the next 5 weeks, I'm committing! : )

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  21. Thanks for all the great tips, Christine. Committing to a plan and following through is definitely important. No reward can be earned without lots of hard work, focus, and dedication.

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  22. Great advice! And CONGRATULATIONS!! My hardest struggle is setting that goal in the right place. I either go way too optimistic (win the race!!!) or way too pessimistic (just finish without dying!!!). Middle ground is hard for me! I need to pick up a copy of that book, I've heard good things about it and if it bases the training on a 5k time, it might help me set my goal in the right place. Congrats again!!

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  23. Great advice. Having a clear goal and a specific plan is so important. The devil is in the details!

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  24. Wow, my next half goal is to go sub-2:30. Maybe 2:20 if I'm really pushing it. Sub-2:00 seems a LONG way off for me. Someday! I find it really interesting that your appetite increases with half training, but decreases with full training. I haven't done a full mary, so I have nothing to compare, but that's fascinating to me. I also love how you switched up the long runs on roads and trails. Trail runs are where my heart truly is. I think most people would say to run your long runs on the surface you'll be racing, but I love the variety you did.

    Congrats!!!

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  25. Congrats on your sub 2:00! I finally got sub 2:00 at the Runners World Half last October and it was the best feeling EVER! I accredit it to a lot more cross training/strength training and some speed work on the track which I never did before.

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  26. Awesome tips, I accidentally went sub 2 in my first race, but with all my injuries haven;t gotten close to that in years. I'd love to make it again some day.

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