I haven't written about running for ages! But I haven't stopped. Oh, down times when I don't have a reason to run, no race to prepare for. That tends to make me lazy after awhile, but I still do a little.
Then my friends Iulia and Charlie told me they ran the Copenhagen Marathon and the Copenhagen Half Marathon in May and September, respectively, and I got excited. Since Copenhagen is only a half hour by train from my home, and it's a pretty flat city, and it's a pretty city, I really wanted to run there!
Iulia and I talked about it on and off for months and finally decided to sign up together in January. Yay! (She was pregnant at the time, so she wanted to be sure she'd be ready to run again by September.) I downloaded the Run With Hal app from Hal Higdon, and subscribed to the 6-month plan in the app that changes it as you run, according to how you're personally doing. Sweet!
Let me say, it's easy to use but the advice is very confusing. I haven't read a ton on how to get faster, but I assumed you just keep working at it little by little. However, the changes in my speed have been very little over the last 13 years that I've been running. I've been pretty good about not getting injured, but not good at losing weight, which is another assumption I have – less weight to carry should mean I go faster, right? In any case, I've only made small improvements in speed. My fastest half marathon was around 2:50 or so (2 hours, 50 minutes).
So the app asks me when my next race is, how long (you can use it for any length of race), how many miles I'm currently running a week, and what my target speed is for the race (my race pace). Then it tells me what to do.
And what it's been telling me to do is run slower. What?! It has me running so slow, I could speed walk at the same pace. I want to wave a sign at everyone who passes me on the trail that says, “The app is making me run this slow! I can run faster!”
But over the 12 weeks of the training plan, it asks me to run “race pace” every other week for a few miles. Uhh..app dude…I can't run that fast, that's why I bought your help. What are you thinking?
So last Friday it asked me to do my first race pace run for 3 miles. I knew I could do it for one, maybe two. But three? That just seemed impossible to run 3 miles at 12:30 when my usual was 13:00 to 13:30 and Run With Hal had me running at 15:00 to 15:30! But John cheered me out the door and I promised myself I would give it my best shot.
I DID IT!! I ran 3 miles at 12:29 minutes per mile. I had to take five walk breaks because I couldn't keep up the pace, but that means I was actually running much faster when I was running. I was heaving at end, felt like throwing up, legs like noodles, but I did it! 😀
So now, with the evidence in, I have to say I trust this app. I don't understand running so slow, though it's interesting to run at a pace that you can talk (I've never been able to in the past), and last Sunday I ran 5 miles at that slow pace and wasn't out of breath at the end – very weird. But now I have some hope that somehow all this slow running is going to help me be able to run at race pace for 4 miles next week. Then 5 miles two weeks later. I only run four times a week, so it doesn't seem enough, but…I'm going to follow the directions and see what happens!
Yesterday, I got the news that the Copenhagen Half Marathon is canceled for this year. I kind of expected that to happen; Denmark is being very cautious about letting outsiders in during the pandemic. But our friend Rob has been running the long runs with me every Sunday, and he was kicking around the idea of running it with me and Iulia. So now the three of us are going to run our own half marathon here at home on the same day! 😀 We'll have our own celebration!
I can't wait! 😀