In one of the forums I participate in, the question was posed if 12 weeks was enough time to prepare for a 1/2 Marathon. The OP of this post currently has a long run of 2.5 miles.
I was reminded of my excitement, and naivete, when I first started running. Here is the story of my first 1/2 Marathon.
As most of you know, I started running in July 2011. I started running to lose weight, and I couldn’t run 1 mile on a treadmill. I grew up pretty athletic, so my endurance came back very quickly. It was like my body was saying “It’s about time, now lets run!”
I did my first 10K in November of 2011, and I ran it in 47:47! That time will forever be engraved in my mind, because it was so much faster than any of my training runs. A 7:41 pace, when only 3 months earlier I couldn’t run 1 mile. I was so pumped I immediately set my sights on a sub 7:00 min mile for a 10K. It’s only 41 seconds per mile right? How hard could that be?
Oh stupid, stupid Chad.
So 2 days later, I decided when I was training, I was going to run faster during my training runs. 1 day after that, I decided I was going to run more days per week. I started running fast and often. I bumped up my mileage and my frequency very rapidly, and I felt great. I was going to be the next age group running sensation! I also registered for a 1/2 marathon to be held on New Years Eve that year.
I was so good about training. So motivated. I kept running fast and often.
Then about 3 weeks before my 1/2 marathon, my Achilles Tendon started getting sore. I told myself to HTFU! Get out there and run. However, it got sore enough that I was limping around on it during the day. I immobilized it for a few days. I decided that I had built up enough for my 1/2 marathon. In order to let the Achilles rest, I didn’t run for 2 weeks before my first 1/2 marathon.
New Years Eve rolls around, and I’m so excited to go crush my first 1/2 marathon. I lined up with the 8:00 min mile group, and the gun went off. I start running, and I’m feeling great. The legs were fresh. “Geez, these people are running slow” I thought to myself. So I picked up my pace and started flying by all the “slowpokes.” I was picking them off 1 at a time. I found my calling. The next running sensation had arrived! 1/2 Marathon record would be mine! Mile after mile, I felt great. Then I hit mile 8.
Whapp! It was like I got hit in the tendon with a baseball bat. All of a sudden, I could barely run. I was determined that I would not walk any portion of this 1/2 marathon, so I kept running through the pain. My pace went from about 7:40 per mile to about 12:00 min per mile, but I KEPT RUNNING. Running the entire 1/2 was my goal. I couldn’t let myself down.
I finished with a time of 2:04:00. I was very disappointed, because my goal was under 2 hours. I did not have the sense of accomplishment I thought I would, and worst of all, my Achilles Tendon hurt like hell.
The next day I had a red swollen knot on my Achilles Tendon. It was located about 4 inches above my ankle, and people who saw it were really worried. They had never seen anything like that. It hurt like hell just to walk. Running was out of the question.
I had to take 3 months off of running, and when I resumed, I was back to running less than 1 mile. For months I was paranoid about my Achilles Tendon anytime it felt even a little sore.
Should a person jump from 2.5 miles to 13 miles in only 12 weeks? HELL NO!!
I have learned a lot along this journey. I realize now that I committed 4 running sins.
- I increased my frequency of runs
- I increased the pace of my runs
- I took 2 full weeks off before my first 1/2 marathon
- I ran through the pain.
Take it easy, build, build, build. Set reasonable goals. Do your research. Your 1/2 marathon will be waiting for you when you are ready. Take your time and build slowly. Listen to your body, and learn what pains you can run through, and what pains you need to stop running for and address.
Now what are you waiting for? Go for a run!