So I’ve now completed the first phase (3 weeks) of my half marathon training and I’m pleased to report after day one’s inauspicious start (you can read about it here) I’ve managed to keep pretty much to my plan since.
If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I’m using this plan as a test for an “alternative” marathon training plan, the main difference being that the longest training run you do is around 15kms (9miles in old money) even for the marathon. The running element of the plan is made up of two “long” runs (10k’s in phase 1), which are done at your marathon heart rate pace, and one speed/hill session. If you want to, on one other day you can throw in an easy 30-45 min run or do some cross training. In addition to this on rest days there are some core exercises to do, and as part of the methodology I have had to change my diet so that my calorie intake is more evenly balanced between protein, carbs and fat (you can read a bit more the nutrition plan here)
The main challenges I’ve had is trying to fit my training runs in with the two club sessions we have each week and secondly trying to run keeping my heart rate in quite a tight range (149-153). I’ve tended to use one of the club runs as my optional additional one and the other as my speed/hill session and then do the two long runs at constant heart rate on my own so I can put all my attention into getting them right.
When I’m doing my heart rate runs I have chosen to wear an old Garmin 110 as it has a chest based HR monitor which gives a more reliable HR reading over my favoured Tom Tom Runner 3 with its wrist based HR monitor. (I actually run with one on each wrist!). I’ve tried out a variety of routes for the long runs (including an enforced treadmill one when the Beast from the East dumped its load) and my conclusion is that it’s helpful to start with an uphill section as this is the quickest and easiest way to get the heart rate into the required zone. After that as flat as possible makes it easier to keep the heart rate at a constant level +/- a beat or two. I’ve been pleased with my progress especially considering the challenges I’ve had transitioning my running style over the winter.
I’ve completed 5 MHR runs (the long ones) each of them has been around 10k and the sixth one I substituted for a 5 mile race (this was a minor discrepancy to the standard plan). I’m actually averaging just over 4:40/Km pace on these runs which would equate to a marathon time of around 3.15 – 3.20, which is pretty close to any predicted time I’ve looked at based on my 10k and Half Marathons last year. Whether I could keep that pace up for another 20 miles is another matter entirely!
All in all I’m pretty pleased with my progress on the running front and that was backed up with me taking a full minute off last years time for the Trotters 5 miler last weekend.
A quick update on my change of nutrition. Last week I managed to get the balance almost perfect, slightly high on fat intake and low on protein but all 3 were in the 30-40% range. I can’t say I’ve particularly noticed any real difference in my performances but then I’ve also not run longer than an hour in one go since making the change. The main changes I’ve made are to cut back on sugary stuff – bang goes the chocolate (well most of it) – crisps and bananas. I’ve replaced them with low fat cheese (protein and fat) and Skyr yogurt (protein and carb) as the biggest challenge I’ve found is getting enough protein and not eating too much carbohydrate. The other change I’ve made is changing some of my breakfasts from cereal based to egg based ones like a cheese omelette, or scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
I think I’ve rambled on enough now, I’ll post a further update at the end of phase two in 3 weeks time.