Metcon Monday: Half-Marathon Recap

Sorry for the lack of an actual metcon…I’m taking a rest day after the half.  I’ll post some nasty-looking race photos one I have them, I promise.

What We Did

Ross and I ran the Livestrong Austin Half-Marathon yesterday and have been wondering for some time how we’d fare with our new-found training philosophy.  In all honesty we weren’t sure what to expect–we did really well at the Super Spartan but that was only 8+ miles and had a ton of obstacles that played to our muscular strength.  So yesterday we were in for a very pleasant surprise…I finished at 1:58 and 22nd out of 145 military females.

That was 2667 Fitocracy points…NBD.

It’s not the fastest time ever but included a pee-break at mile 7 and was definitely 10 minutes faster than my last (formally trained, pasta-fueled) half-marathon in 2010.  Not breaking any records, but I’ll take it.

What Worked For Us

Both of us are veteran mileage junkies–I’ve mentioned on the blog several times how I went most of my college years running about 25-50 miles a week and spending any other free time I had on the elliptical or spin bike.  I’ve run more half-marathons than I care to recall, either on my own or formally.  Ross has a similar history…he’s run something like six half-marathons, four regular marathons, an ultra-marathon, and an ass-ton of marathon-length runs on his own.

When I came home off deployment, everything changed.  We were both used to suffering from adrenal fatigue and injuries and had finally decided to give the whole Crossfit thing a try and cut back on mileage.  That was in September.  Since then, we’ve been playing around a good deal with programming and what works for us (Ross is really loving Max Effort Black Box and I’m dabbling in it, too) but the only thing we haven’t changed is how little we run anymore.  Speaking for myself, I generally only run during the week if I have to for Company PT, which means it’s pretty slow and easy–about 3-4 miles at a 9 min/mile pace.  I’ll run on the weekend if I feel like it (again less and less), and I did a 5-miler last weekend to shake the rust off and prep for the half.  The longest I’ve run on a single day since September was the 8-ish miles of the Super Spartan.  My weekly mileage hasn’t topped 15.

What I have done significantly more of than ever before is speedwork.  I’ve been sprinting a ton and doing mid-distance (400-800m) intervals, as well as a lot of rowing and intense metcons like Tabatas.  Admittedly, in the last month I’ve been sprinting more and lifting less, but that was as much to do with being on the road as anything.  I can see a huge difference, however, in my explosive strength and speed.  I’ve never been a sprinter, but then again, I never really worked at it like this.

Finally, and this goes without saying, I’m healthier overall thanks to a better diet and much better attention paid to recovery time than I ever did before.  For example, 20-year-old me would run 15 miles one day, stuff my face with pizza and beer, then run 10 miles the next day because I was afraid of getting fat.  And, oh, by-the-way I wouldn’t hydrate or stretch or get any sleep in between, either.

…And What Didn’t

I wouldn’t feel right leaving you with a purely whimsical and happy recap of the race.  While I felt strong through most of it, there were definitely some consequences that came with the lack of mileage in the last six months.  The first 10k was great, and then the constant impact of feet on the asphalt started to catch up with me.  By the final hill, my hips were completely shot and Ross had to stop at one point for a minute thanks to some severe ankle pain.  The fact that we stayed downtown probably saved us both because we were forced to walk back to the hotel and cool down properly.  This morning I wasn’t so much “sore” in the muscles as I was ache-y in the joints in a way I’ve never really been after a long run like that.  Clearly my training had made me strong and fast enough to move across said distance at a decent gait, but the lack of running left my frame unprepared for sustained impact-inducing activity for such a long period of time.

I’m absolutely glad we did the race–I have a special place in my heart for this race in particular because Ross and I ran this same race together during our first month of dating–but the change in training and the results have reinforced a few things for me.  First, you don’t have to run a bazillion miles to do well in a long-distance race.  Speed and strength are so much more important, along with diet and recovery.  Second, long-distance running is not the best thing for me.  I still have a soft spot for the occasional jog with The Husky, but when it comes to distances like this, I think I might be doneskies.  I mean, training formally makes me feel like absolute sh*t, we established that, and now I know that the choices I’ve been making lately with regards to my training have been paying off and that I can do well in a long-distance race if I want to…so why beat a dead horse?

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