Friday, May 2, 2014

Dear Hal Higdon (Thanks)

Last week I hated you.  I mean, you start out the week with strength training.  The next day I run.  And then I do cross training, followed by a day where you throw together running AND strength training.  If I survive your gauntlet of pain, I get a rest day.

Followed by a long run.

The old me (from last week) thought you were a sadistic kind of fellow.  Here's the thing, I'm fat.  I just am.  I started doing this running thing to lose weight.  And then I discovered I like it a bit so, hey, why not do something like train for a half marathon?  Which I did - not so successfully - a couple of years ago.  And in the hours after that first half marathon, I hated running.  I swore I'd never race again.  And whether or not I'd run again was also up in the air.

And then I forgot about that pain. I worked through the injuries I caused myself.  I ran a 5K or two.  And then this year came and my friends said, "hey, there's this half marathon..."

And I said, "SURE!!!!!!!!!! SIGN ME UP!"

With that in the distant future (September was a long way away), I decided to start looking for things closer to home in between and I stumbled across this race that included two of my loves - running and cinnamon buns.  Well, three of my loves actually since it is out in the country and I'm running past cows, not houses.  And I thought, "eight miles?  I can do that!"

So, off I went to the Hal Higdon site and found myself a training plan (15K/10 mile).  And I began slowly - I had more weeks between me and the race than Hal had in the training plan so I modified the plan and stretched things out.  Everything was coming up roses - I even started strength training per the schedule.

When I started strength training, I looked around for an easy, comprehensive plan that wouldn't lock me in the gym for hours.  I settled on this one that focuses on the wrong things for a runner - heavy weight, low reps.  Also, every workout includes squats.  Let me say that again - EVERY. WORKOUT. SQUATS.

It starts out easy with an empty Olympic bar and you build up every week to higher weight.  Well, last week, I finally started hitting failure on my squats.  At 90 lbs + body weight post run - it was a Thursday.

Now, the week didn't start out all that well, even though it was one of the mini tapers in the program.  Every day was a simple 2 mile run, but after Monday's strength, my legs felt like lead through the Tuesday run.  Where I'd hoped to work on speed a bit with the reduced mileage, I ended up working on trying not to lay down on the treadmill and cry instead of running.  I walked a lot that day.

The next day, determined, I hit the elliptical and put in a full 60 minutes and felt slightly better.  Then Thursday came and, well, I made some mistakes.

Going back to the "fat" thing, I'm also trying to fix my diet.  Which means eating out less - especially at lunch.  So I picked up a bunch of frozen diet lunches on sale.  On Thursday, I had oatmeal for breakfast.  Then I had a frozen meal that clocked in at <300 calories.  Five and a half hours later, I was at the gym running and lifting.  I wanted to die, but I finished those squats.

After that, I dreaded this week.  Not only was I still strength training, but my mileage would be going up a bit.  Basically every day in the week would be up a mile, giving me a 3 mile increase overall.  I modified that and went with a 2 mile increase overall, because ow.

Last night - Thursday - was run and strength.  And I dreaded it.  But I learned a bit from last week.  I supplemented my food for the day and ate more calories with some fruit, veggies and cheese.  I got to the gym and I decided to try intervals because I'm a glutton for punishment.

I finished my speed work, hit the weights and finished them successfully as well.  By the time I got home, I felt like a million bucks.

So, Mr. Higdon, thanks.  Your training plans, while sometimes painful and evil, have made me stronger.  And maybe even a little faster.  I can't wait to start the half marathon plan in June.

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