By: Dawn Garland
Hello fellow running enthusiasts! Hello also to those who may not be so enthusiastic, but you're here anyway. Let's start talking about training.
I will be the first to admit that I don't run just to run. I always need some sort of incentive. The carrot on the end of the stick, if you will. What works for me? Race t-shirts and goodie bags. I fully and wholeheartedly admit that I run to enter races and get free stuff. Sadly enough, I also admit that I will not repeat a race if the t-shirt is ugly or the giveaways are not great.
"How was the route for the XYZ 10K, Dawn?"
"Great! Super flat and fast! I had a PR!!"
"Are you going to run it again next year??"
"Eh, probably not. The t-shirts were orange with a cat juggling socks. So NOPE."
Hey- whatever gets you up and out the door, right? Which brings me to the race I am currently training for: The Hot Chocolate 15K on January 25, 2015. HOORAY CHOCOLATE!! (Side note, if you've never run this race, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. They also offer a 5K.) I decided this would be my comeback race after my injury. Which means that I have to get back to running 9 miles comfortably. For some people who are getting back to running after a good chunk of time off, that wouldn't be too big of a deal. For me, it is quite the undertaking. When I was finally allowed to start running again, it was 2 miles at a time. Getting to 9 miles sounded nearly impossible.
Rather than throw my hands up in the air and not know what to do, I fell back onto a training method that I'd employed last year. I don't know if any of you are familiar with a running coach named Hal Higdon, but you need to be. He basically knows everything about everything about running. When I decided to run the Hot Chocolate race last year, I didn't know where to start. How did I ramp up my mileage? What was a good estimate for how long it would take me to train? What specific changes did I need to make? So, like most average Americans, I jumped on Google. After entering "15K training plan", I was quickly shown this wonderful chart. This training plan is specifically designed for people who are training for their first 15K/10 mile run. (There are also programs for intermediate and advanced runners, FYI.) I loved how easy it was going to make my life. Just follow the plan. I did modify a few of the days, i.e.- my long runs were on Sundays and I did a hard workout on Saturdays. And lo and behold, it worked! I successfully ran my first 15K in January of this year.
Fast forward to about a month ago. I knew it was time to start the training again. So, I pulled out my handy dandy spreadsheet and got down to brass tacks. Strength training and shorter runs during the week. A hardcore workout on Saturdays and my long runs on Sundays. Fortunately, muscle memory has taken over. Sure I have good runs and bad runs. Who doesn't? I have days where I'm sore and days where I feel invincible. But the important thing is that I found a training system that works for me and that allows me to have my best race day. This is the key- finding something that works for you and your body. Just because Hal Higdon's plan worked for me, that doesn't mean it's a one size fits all. Some people train best when they join running groups. Others need personal trainers or running coaches. There are the lucky few who just wake up and go "Yeah, I think I feel like running 10 miles today." But let's be honest- those types are few and far between. Majority of us need something to keep us going.
So, here's my challenge to you. I encourage you to seek out a goal if you don't already have one. Whether it's a cool race you want to try or a specific mileage that you want to be able to run, find something that's your incentive. And then focus on finding a training plan for said goal. Do you need a running app? Should you join a local running club? Think about your best runs. What time of day were they? Were you running by yourself? Think about your schedule and lifestyle. When do you have time to pencil in running? These are all very important things to consider when choosing a training method. Remember that no training process is perfect. You'll have a day or two when you think "Why am I doing this again???" Let yourself be frustrated for a minute or two, and then focus on the bigger picture. The goal. The goody bag!!! And if nothing else, just tell yourself that if Dawn can train for something, then ANYONE can.