Yesterday I completed the Richmond half marathon in 1:25:59. This was my fastest half ever. (my previous PR was 1:27:33 back in 2013). And I improved by almost 8minutes over my time from last year in this same race.
While I am not anywhere close to an elite runner, I am fairly analytical and think I can pull out some keys for the “recreational runner” of my past year on how/why I was able to get faster.
First, I will do a brief race recap and then get into my anecdotal “keys to gaining speed”.
- You can catch my “taper week” in this post– my workout week leading up to the race.
- Race day started off Very Cold! ❄️ It was 26degrees. So I layered up in my Lululemon fleece lined leggings, NewZill compression 🧦 socks, a Lululemon turtleneck under a nike fleece-lined running top, a Lululemon neck warmer, my “New York” hat 🧢 , and I wore a thin pair of gloves under a warm pair of gloves 🧤
- I started the morning by taking Nike 🐶 out for a 1/2mile jog so she could get outside a little and so I could warm up a bit.
- As far as pre-race fuel, I just had 1.5scoops of UCAN (superstarch powder) mixed with a little water and 3 clif shot blocks. So about 200-250kcals of carbs.
- During the race, I had water and POWERade at each stop it was offered (I missed where the Gu was handed out 🤷🏼♀️ so I wish i would have packed one). But I really didn’t stress about this too much— I just ate what felt good in the morning (this will be a theme through the race)
- Chris drove me and my mom and her husband up to the start of the race where I met up with my running partner Megan! Before the race started, I told Megan that I had no clue how my legs were going to do. We didn’t plan to race together, and just wished each other good luck! 🍀
- At the race start, Megan and I lined up with the 1:30 pace team. As the race started, my legs felt Really really good, so I actually surged ahead of the 1:30 group & ended up running with a clump of people running 6:30min/mile
- I wasn’t pressing at that pace- It wasn’t easy, but I felt that I could keep it up for an hour & hopefully have enough left for the remainder of the race.
- At mile 7 ( I think), we hit a park that had a LOT of hills. Ok so maybe it was like 5, but they were tough! I didn’t want to max out my legs on the hills, so I took small steps uphill then Long steps downhill to “catch up”. I stayed in eye contact with the fast group, but the group split up after those hills with the stronger runners leaving a few of us behind around mile 8.
- Those of us remaining kept a pretty solid 6:40ish pace the remainder of the race & finished under 1:26!
- Overall, I ran by feel. I ran the first half in my “feel good” zone, then the second half with the mindset of not leaving anything left & a desire to feel like I ran my best (maxed out) by mile 12. Mile 13 is almost all downhill, so I didn’t save anything for that- I felt I could rely on the motivation that that was the final mile and allow my legs to carry me down the hill to the finish.
- During those last 5-6miles, The only things running through my head were: “if I PR, I am done with halfs forever (or at least til I’m able to do a sub-35 10k)“, and to “kick my foot back and up & bring my back foot towards my opposite knee (form cues that help me)”
- And I was totally serious about not doing anymore halfs for a Long time (or fulls after this one in December). I’m so over the long runs & really am missing the balance of running & lifting as running has just kind of taken over with doing 60-70miles/week. After the Dec Marathon, my plan is to focus on 10ks. Aka just 40min (or less) of pain vs 1.5-3hrs 😂.
- I really happy with how this race went– even though it was COLD! And it was so great to have my mom and husband there! 🙂
Keys to Gaining Speed:
Over the past six months, I’ve been really consistent in several things that I believe really helped me improve and PR yesterday :
- Working with my running coach Susan! She schedules track workouts and prescribes paces for me to hit based on my past race performance & my personal race goals. (The track workouts were a big key for me to improve my running form & belief that I could run faster)
- Cross Training 5-6days a week. I’ve been doing 30-40min full-body Lifts or 30-40min Insanity (plyo/core) workouts most days of the week for the past year. Not only does this help improve conditioning & strength in running, but it also helps prevent injury. At the end of this blog, I’ve added in my full-body lifting program (in the “looking ahead” section)
- Nutrition: Tracking my macros & including 2salads and 2 fruits (at least) each day. I haven’t used a multivitamin since maybe last May because I have been consciously tracking my food & am getting all the protein/carbs/fats/vitamins/minerals/water that I need. When i eat something, I pay attention to how I feel after & to my workouts that week. And I eat what feels good to me & makes my workouts feel good. I probably don’t need to track much anymore, but I am just used to it and it helps me feel less anxious about food. Eating healthy also contributes to recovering better because your body has all the nutrients it needs to repair and rebuild 💪🏼
- Recovery! This has been huge this past year- consciously including “yoga/stretching” for 5-10min a day using these stretches or the ones on Beachbody app (or stretching that’s included in the insanity workouts) and using the R8 roller almost daily. Drinking 1-2gallons of water a day has also been key.
- Last, but definitely not Least: Improving my running form! I’ve been using My MilestonePod and the form cues/helps that they send me as well as the form help that Susan gives me. The big things for me were improving my “leg swing” & “ground contact time”. For leg swing, Susan told me to think: “high heel , high knee, High toe” & that really helps. It’s really hard to change a habit, but I have been focusing on creating a bigger leg swing on my regular runs for 30second bursts through the run. THIS made a big difference in the race. To improve my ground contact time, the key that milestone pod sends me is to jump rope and do plyometrics. I think the faster pace I had yesterday really helped keep my contact to a minimum yesterday.
Here are my Pod results from the race & you can see my “runficiency” was a score of 94!
I’m pretty convinced this next marathon will be my last for a LONG time. Although, I have a great appreciation for marathon training, I just am fed up with running zapping my energy for lifting and training Nike 🐶 …
- In the past year, I’ve found that i really enjoy full-body Lifts 3-4days/week and including insanity (plyos/core Workouts) 2-3days a week. It gives me a nice balance of heavy weights & speed/plyo Training. Doing the “body part splits” (like a leg day, shoulder day, chest day, etc…) Just are not for me. I’ve done those but i just prefer full body which allow me to feel well rounded and hit each muscle group 3 (or more) times a week.
So this past week, I put together a training plan for post-marathon. Basically it’s a “feel good lifestyle plan” for me that also acts as a 10k race training plan :).
- I started the plan today, but just kind of breaking myself into the new lifts (not going heavy) because I will have 3 weeks now to get ready for the marathon.
Basically the lifts are 9exercises (I just choose 1 of the 3exercise options for each category) , and I do 3-4sets of an exercise for 8-12reps. They take about 30-45min depending on the number of sets I choose & how heavy I go.
- Feel free to steal this and use! My goal was to make up a plan that was simple and consistent each day in amt of time/workout. If you try it and like it, tag me on IG @RebekahKFit ! ☺️💪🏼
Up next (God-willing) :
- Turkey trot 10k (on thanksgiving) &
- the California International Marathon (Dec 3)
Hope you all have an awesome day!! Thanks so much for reading 🙂