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The Half-Marathon Training Diaries – Part 1 of 13.1

I’ve been a runner for years, but have never been too serious about it.  Running is something I do for fun and fitness, because I just enjoy it.  But this week, shit just got real.  I signed up for a half marathon!  (Actually, I signed up 3 months ago – but just got serious about training for it this week.  Tuesday, to be exact.)  Anyhoo, I thought it might be fun to share my journey with all of you – the ups, the downs, and inevitable hilarity of the next 5 months on my quest to conquer 13.1 miles and earn that cool bumper sticker on my car.

I have always been a slow runner, although my pace has increased a bit over the years.    Speed has never been my goal – it’s the joy of the run that keeps me coming back over and over.  Running, for me, is like meditation.  It clears my mind of the negative and refuels me with love and gratitude.  I think this is partly because I have no expectations of myself when I run – I simply don’t care whether I am moving quickly or slowly.  I am just plain grateful that I have two working legs and a healthy heart.  The rest is frosting on the proverbial cake.

So Jill, you might ask, if you really love running just for the sake of running, why bother training for a half marathon?  Or any distance, for that matter?  Why not just enjoy your workouts as they are right now?  Great question, and one that I’m still not sure I can completely answer.  The short answer is “Because I want to see if I can do it.”  Kind of like asking someone why they want to climb Mount Everest, I guess.  Because it’s there.    Because I feel a strange pull in that direction.  Because Abby asked me to.  Because I want that stupid bumper sticker.

But mostly because I KNOW I CAN.  And I want to prove it to myself…and everyone who follows this blog…that big girls CAN train for and run a half marathon!  This is for all the women (and men!) out there who think they are too big to run, or to run very far.  I always strive to be an example of what is possible, and I just upped the ante.


My starting point?  Right now I can reliably run a mile in just under 13 minutes.  If chased by (slow) tigers, I could probably knock out a second mile.  Several years ago, I was able to do longer distances (and loved it), but in recent months I’ve been focused on other things and have just run for basic fitness – lots and lots of intervals without much concern about pace or distance.

Over the years there have been injuries to contend with – Achilles Tendinitis first, then hip pain, and most recently Plantar Fasciitis.  This latest condition is stubborn, but right now feels like it is under control through lots (and lots and lots) of thorough calf and ankle stretching.  I flirted with minimalist shoes, including a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, but have reverted back to ‘regular’ shoes for the time being as these seem to be the best fit for my gait.  I’m running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13’s right now, and they feel great.

As for my training plan, this is still under development.  One of my clients (shout out to Noni!) is a marathon runner and gave me some great advice about training: focus on training your legs to keep running for a specific time rather than a distance.  At a 13-minute per mile pace, 13 miles will take a smidgen under 3 hours.  Thus I am going to slowly work up to running as much of that 3 hours as possible over the next 5 months.  I use a running app on my phone which tracks my distance, pace and elevation, so that information will be available to me whenever I want it, but my focus will be on time.  There will also be a fair amount of targeted strength training to make sure my muscles are prepared to go the distance.  And lots of stretching!  Experienced distance runners – feel free to weigh in with your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!

November 17th, 2013.  7am.  The quest starts right here, right now.  Time to lace up my shoes and go out for that first official training run – laters, baby!

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7 Responses to The Half-Marathon Training Diaries – Part 1 of 13.1

  1. Cory Bank June 6, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Awesome Jill! Please let me know if I may offer any assistance in your quest for the 13.1 . Ken will probably also be a great sounding board for you too!

    • Jill June 6, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      thanks Cory! I will definitely take you up on that offer :)

  2. Erin Heilig June 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm #


    • Jill June 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Thanks Erin!

  3. Abby June 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I am looking forward to the race! I need to get serious about training too. Eek! Glad we are doing this together!

    • Jill June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      me too! i’m starting to get pretty excited about it too – thanks for giving me the kick in the butt to sign up!!!!


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