I ran my first half marathon (American River Parkway Half Marathon) at the end of April. A coworker had to just drop out of the Davis Moonlight Half Marathon and asked me if I wanted to take his entry, so I will run that for fun. My next race that I will try to PR in is the Urban Cow on October 5th, which means my training plan starts on July 14th. I decided a few weeks before I completed my last half marathon that if I wanted to reach my goals, my “off-season” needed to be productive. Here is my journey over the last 2 ½ months.
Where I Was
I ran the American River Parkway Half Marathon in 2:00:34. My goal was to finish in 2 hours flat and if I took one less water stop, I would have made it. I weighed 186 pounds and felt like I was in great shape. I was eating good foods, except for our weekly pizza night, which I am not willing to give up. I was trying to stick with whole grain foods, less processed foods, and was buying foods with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup whenever possible.
My Off-Season Training
I reduced my running mileage and frequency by 30-40%. I still tried to get a long run in (around 7 miles) and a shorter tempo or interval run in each week. I started taking a Les Mills Body Pump class, which is awesome, every Monday. To add some strength training in, I started to do a workout from an app on my phone. The app is called Skimble and I did the Total Beach Body workouts. They are High Intensity Interval Trainings (HIIT) that last 18-23 minutes. I did these 6 days a week at night, even if I ran or hit the gym that day.
My wife is a Beach Body coach and we have been taking Shakeology (I only do it on the weekends). We also started doing Piyo, which is a combination of Pilates and Yoga. Both of these products are great and I strongly recommend them to all of my friends. I will do product reviews on them shortly.
I added plyometrics one day per week. These included box jumps, jump rope, squat jumps, high steps, and lateral jumps. Here are a few websites with different plyometric exercises.
I used three different types of interval run sessions to get stronger and faster.
Fast Intervals – I ran 10-12 sets of 400 meter intervals (one lap around a track). I rested for the same amount of time that it took me to run the interval so if it took me 1:30 to run the 400m, I walked for 1:30 as well. I would run the 400m at the fastest pace that I could keep up for the full lap.
Yasso 800’s – These are like the fast intervals, but you are running 800m, or 2 laps at a time. Again, I rested for the same amount of time that it took me to run the interval. Because you are running longer distances, your pace will be slower than the speed intervals. Try to keep a constant pace throughout the interval. You will want to start out at 4 sets of intervals and increase each time you do them (intervals should not be done more than once a week).
Hill Intervals – Find a somewhat steep hill that you can run up for 30-45 seconds. Run (with good form) up the hill for 30 seconds. Walk or jog back down to where you started and repeat for 10-12 sets.
Note: All intervals should start and end with ½ - 1 mile of running at an easy pace (a pace where you can keep a conversation going without having to catch you breath).
I continued to watch what I ate, but used My Fitness Pal (a free app) to journal my food and exercise. It is important to keep a journal so I stay on track. I would typically eat 1.5 cups of broccoli and have a protein shake for breakfast, 4 ounces of chicken, carrots, and an apple for lunch, and a reasonable dinner. I still continue to have pizza night every week (because I need to live a little, right?). I also weighed myself every morning at the same time before I ate anything. Recent studies have shown that people who weigh themselves on a regular basis tend to lose more weight because they are actively thinking about their progress.
Where I Am At Now
My next half marathon training starts next week and I have lost 14 pounds so far. The Total Beach Body workouts have helped me to really strengthen my core too, which has helped me to keep better form while I run. I am lighter, feel better, and am in less pain because of my off-season. I can’t wait for my training to begin so I can realize the true benefits of losing the weight and getting stronger. My goal for the Urban Cow is to finish in 1:58:00 which is about a 9:00 min/mile pace. We’ll see if I can pull it off. I will keep everyone posted on how I am doing.