Monday, July 13, 2009

Half-marathong training: Week One

I love it when conventional wisdom turns out to be true. I suppose it often is, it just takes me a while to realize that not only is it true, but that it also applies to me. I’ve often heard the advice that in running (as with other things in life) it helps to have a goal to keep you motivated. Amazingly, after all these years of running and struggling to keep motivated at times, I’m only just now putting this advice into practice.

Today was my first day of training for a half-marathon in the fall. I decided to go for my run in the morning, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was to get out the door just buoyed by the knowledge that I’m starting a training plan. I’m sure some of this excitement is a first-day thing, and that there will be challenging days ahead, but still, it was nice to know that every step was a step towards a specific goal.

As for the training plan, I’m using Hal Higdon’s novice plan. I looked at a few plans and this one seemed like the best fit for me. Plus, I find his writing to be so friendly and accessible that I sort of imagine him as my friend guiding me along the way.

As I was running this morning I thought about the last (and only other) half-marathon I’ve done. I was nineteen at the time and had just finished high-school a semester early and had the luxury of the kind of free time I’ll probably not know again until retirement. I didn’t even have the idea of a half-marathon in mind when I just started to run a little farther each day. On my birthday I thought it would be a fun tradition to run my age in kilometers every year (which is the kind of thing that sounds fun when you’re nineteen and ageing is just something that older people talk about, but not a concept with any personal relevance). It may have been my Dad (also a runner) who noted that 21 kilometers was only two more than nineteen. And with that simple calculation it was settled. We both registered for the waterfront half-marathon which we ran later that fall.

I guess when you’re nineteen the only logic you need to keep you running for two hours straight is that 19 + 2 is 21. Nine years later my motivation and my methods may have changed somewhat. I guess I’ve always been a little reluctant to take up any kind of training plan, because it seemed at odds with my ideals of recreational running. I thought that if I had a schedule to adhere to I would no longer be able to turn to running as a means of relieving stress. I’m happy to say that so far (after one day – perhaps a little premature), the opposite has been true – having a plan has allowed me to enjoy running in a new way. And that is something to be thankful for.

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