Road to my first half marathon – Week 4

It’s the fourth week of my half marathon training and I’m feeling stronger and more confident. This week I picked up my custom insoles that are supposed to prevent that my foot injury comes back. I’ve been instructed to first start walking in them before trying to run so I can get used to them. Both walking and running feel still a bit unnatural to me, we’ll see how it goes! 

Week 4 brings the first goal pace run of the plan, more stride repeats and a trial bridge run. 

Easy run

Since I changed my schedule at the start of this training plan the first run of the week is on Monday morning, the day after my long run. This means I go in with no expectations other than going for a run. I’m trying to focus on keeping my heart rate low for these runs and force myself to take it easy. The initial intention was to keep my heart rate below 150 during the entire run. Looking back at the graph in Garmin Connect, that goal went out the window within three minutes. I did manage to keep it at an average of 160, which is still 8 – 10 beats per minute lower as my normal easy runs. There were some spikes towards 165, but then I remembered to focus on my breathing, slow down and I usually got my heart rate down pretty quickly. It’s something.

I got 4,5K done, a little slower as usual at an average pace of 8:45 min/km.

Goal pace run

This run was supposed to be fun. I was looking forward to this run. Right until I was driving home from work the evening before. I brought my running shoes to work so I could get used to my new insoles for running shoes during my lunch walk. About halfway home I realized my mistake, the shoes were still in my office. I used the other half of the ride to determine how I would solve this problem.

Several options were considered: drive back (nope, someone was waiting on me), postpone the run (nope), take the shoes I had officially retired on Sunday back out of retirement (yep). I’m currently on the lookout for a good deal on my current running shoes so I can rotate them and never have this issue again. But, for now I was going to run on the same shoes that gave me a big, painful blister last Sunday. It’s still a little sensitive, but not really painful. I decided to use different socks, lace them better and wear the ankle brace I hadn’t worn for months. The brace will provide a little more support and maybe avoid annoying the blister more. I was also wearing two different types of socks. Can anyone guess if this will go well?

It’s -2°C when I get out the door, but it feels so much colder. I’m hiding my face in my buff and am wearing a separate head band over my ears. Pretty much all that is exposed are my eyes. Check my Instagram for a picture if you want a laugh. I’m breathing in and out through the buff and that’s working surprisingly well. The warm air that I’m breathing out is warming up my face making it feel like I’ve got my own little heating system!

The plan said a 15 minute warm-up, 15 minutes at goal pace, 5 optional minutes at goal pace and a 15 minute cool down. Within 5 minutes I notice a sharp pain in my left foot, the one with the ankle brace on. I recognize the pain, but haven’t felt it in a long time. I instantly remember why I decided to stop wearing it. It feels like there is too much pressure on the left side of my foot. I tried to loosen the brace and my shoelaces, but it’s pointless. So, obviously, I sat down on the freezing cold sidewalk, took of my shoe, sock and ankle brace. Then I put my sock and shoe back on, readjusted my lacing and thanked my Flipbelt for always joining me on my runs. It felt good straightaway, ready to go! Finally.

I increased my speed as the goal pace part started and tried to keep my pace around the intended goal pace. I started out good and went a little faster towards the end, the 15 minutes were ran at 7:12 min/km. I decided to skip the optional part. I was too scared of making my blister worse or creating some other issue. Run done.

Stride repeats

A new set of stride repeats is planned for today. While last week the goal was still a little vague with a cadence between 150 and 200 strides per minute (spm), this week the goal is to keep my cadence between 184 and 194 spm. This goal has been adjusted based on last week’s result. The number of intervals have also increased from 8 to 10 repeats. 

The 20 second stride repeats:

1. 4:53 min/km, 186 spm
2. 4:45 min/km, 183 spm
3. 4:37 min/km, 179 spm
4. 6:34 min/km, 173 spm
5. 5:21 min/km, 174 spm
6. 4:34 min/km, 174 spm
7. 4:30 min/km, 172 spm
8. 5:07 min/km, 172 spm
9. 4:49 min/km, 173 spm
10. 5:03 min/km, 164 spm

I forgot to press the lap button again before starting the stride repeats. I was running for 20 seconds before I realized, didn’t look at my watch, pressed the lap button and continued. I might learn one day. I definitely felt a little empty pretty quickly (I’m blaming last night’s dinner), but the 4th and 5th lap times surprised me even during the run. Not sure if I trust these numbers. 

This run was a bit messy, but I got it done. 

Long easy run

Today I’m doing a trial bridge run to prepare myself for my bridge run in Rotterdam in two weeks. It’s probably more of a mental preparation as anything else, but since running is both physical and mental, this will be a useful training. There are not many long, big bridges near my house, but there are a few nice ones right next to my mother’s house. I had planned a route of 13K that would pass along three big bridges, twice. 

The route starts straightaway with an incline to the first bridge. The uphill went smooth and during the first downhill I looked at my watch and was a little confused by my average pace so far, it was way faster as I was expecting. I guess the downhill gave me more speed as I thought it would. The next bridge was already in sight, but I was feeling good! This bridge was a lot meaner though, as it looked like I was on top already, I even went downhill a little bit, turned a corner and there was the rest of the bridge. 

A few more smaller bridges coming up and then I made a circle around a small lake. After about 90 minutes I was still feeling pretty strong and able to keep my pace on the faster end of my easy pace, but I needed to cross those two first bridges again to get back. Right before the incline started I had to wait at a red light for what seemed like forever. I paused my watch, kept my legs moving a little and when the light turned green I went off, up that bridge again. After about a minute or two I realized my watch was still on pause and all I thought was “Now I’m not getting credit for the entire bridge!”. I tried to go for a final sprint, but there was not enough energy left. I finished my run at 13,5K at an average pace of 8:04 min/km. I feel ready for my 15K race in two weeks!
Looking at this elevation chart now it doesn't really feel as impressive as it felt during my run.
This week definitely gave me a confidence boost. I’m not entirely sure about the insoles yet, I only dared to use them during my stride repeats on Friday. I figured after only one run a 13K long run with inclines might not be the best plan. More runs next week! 

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