I have been giving it a lot of thought how to prepare for my first marathon. And I think I figured it out somehow. Of course I had 2 half marathons to test some running plans. Let’s talk about that journey first.
For my first half marathon I used an Asics schedule based on pace. For me personally it was really frustrating. First 3 weeks were easy, just running at a really easy pace. Even I could do that. After that the pace got much faster and I couldn’t run that fast (bad case of asthma). So from week 4 I couldn’t run the schedule properly and it felt like I failed everytime.
Can you imagine how frustrating it is for someone who wants to do her runs properly? And that you can never run the pace you’re supposed to. But okay, I stuck with it, even though it annoyed the hell out of me. My first half marathon time was 2.31-ish. Not bad, but I hoped to do it faster than 2.30.
My first half marathon was awesome by the way. It was in Amsterdam, the course was awesome, the crowd is awesome. The finish was at the Olympic stadium. My finishers photo sucked, because I cried. Really. It looked damn ugly! My crying face just looks ugly. So I didn’t order the finish photo, obviously.
Pace based running plans can be really awesome, but not for me or maybe other people who don’t run that fast. If you can run faster than me, it might be a good one. You can use the app on your smartphone and just go running. Easy as that.
But for my second half marathon I was looking for a different running plan. Not based on pace! I searched on Google and I found a perfect one. The Busy Girl’s Half Marathon Plan. I’m a busy girl. And the best thing is, the plan is based on breathing zones, not pace! It just worked perfect for me. This plan is suitable if you just want to run a half marathon. If you really want to PB on your time, there are other plans more suitable for that specific goal.
I decided to not focus on my pace, wich was really hard for me. I really want to see progress in my pace and there wasn’t any, because the focus was on my breath. I was a bit worried, because my pace was even slower than previous year’s prep. I really didn’t want to be slower than 2013.
But when I landed in Glasgow I even got more scared… Scotland has a lot of hills. Wait, what? Holy crap! I should’ve and could’ve known. Lesson learned for the next time. Always check the course and train for it. I didn’t do any hill training at all. Day before race day I was a bit struck. I doubted myself, I really didn’t know for sure if I wouldd maken it all! I didn’t train for a hilly half marathon and I have asthma. So it went on and on in circles in my mind. A negative circle… How to get out of that?
Of course my lovely friend told me I would make it for sure, even it would be a bit slower. So what? And she was right! On race day I decided to just run the race, no matter what. Just run those hills and make to the finish line. It was a great race, I loved the scenery, those hills were beautiful (though sucky to run them), great people, just awesome. And the best thing was, I only finished a tiny few minutes slower than my first half marathon! With all those hills and no hill training. I was actually really proud of myself.
What I learned from all of this, is to have faith, even for the unexpected situations. Your body is capable of way more than you think. I’m the living proof. Second, do some recon on the race course before the plane lands on your destination. 😉