How I Failed at my First Half Marathon

IMG_2257.jpgI had training plans.  Big training plans.  Operation Strengthen Glutes, Hamstring, and Core was going to start, I was going to eat strictly Paleo for 8 weeks, I was going to trail run 2-3 times per week.  And absolutely none of  that happened.  Not a single one.

I signed up to run the Back Country Wilderness Half Marathon this past February.  It wasn’t my first race but it was my first half.  Last year I raced (term used very loosely) in the Imogene Pass Trail Run.  Last Summer I hiked, trail ran above 10,000 feet elevation, went to Cross Fit once per week, and ate whatever the hell I wanted.  My training was on point and I successfully ran/hiked 17.1 miles up a mountain and back down in 6 hours and 6  minutes.  After that race I realized if I race again my glutes, hamstrings  and core needs to be stronger and I need to be faster.

Fast forward exactly a year later.  After a whole year of extensive CrossFit training under my belt, no running, and experimenting with a Paleo diet I was ready to train again.  “I have this in the bag,” I thought to myself.  A race in Highlands Ranch, Colorado is way easier then going from Ouray to Telluride up a mountain and down.  I got this.  This is going  to be a piece of cake.  And it wasn’t.

My nutrition was awful.  I wasn’t eating enough calories or enough carbs to fuel my runs or my recovery.  I actually lost weight.  And not the replace fat with muscle type of weight loss, but just good old fashion weight loss.  Not good when you are training and need your muscle mass to be maintained.  My body never felt energized, I was exhausted, and permanently sore.  Mentally I took a big hit and during each training run I was filled with doubts and disappointment.

I never worked on my strength.  Forget those pistol squats, hamstring extensions, and ab work.  Between working two jobs and running I never went to Cross Fit for 6 weeks.  I only ran once  a week too.  That  is all I had time for.  I didn’t have time to run 2-3 times per week like I had originally planned.  And I still wasn’t fast.  When you run only once per week speed work is not part of that run.

But I succeeded.  I failed and succeeded at the same time.  My failures lead to success.  I ran my half  marathon and performed better then I estimated.  My goal was to average a 13:30 min/mile and to run the race between 2.5 and 3 hours.  I averaged a 13:18 minute mile and ran my race in 2 hours and 54 minutes!IMG_2272.jpg

So what did I do to turn it around in the nick of time?  I pulled my head out of my tuchus and realized that I needed to fix my mental game.  I relaxed.  I got back in touch with why I signed up for the race to begin with–to have fun and to enjoy one of my favorite things to do, trail run Colorado.  Redirecting my thinking was the biggest key in my racing success.

I rested.  A lot.  I actually took 2 whole weeks off of training.  Once in September and once in October.  I don’t know if this helped or hurt my performance, but that is what my body needed.  When I was tired, I rested.  I normally don’t rest.  I go, go, go until I burnout and then I push myself some more and just get over the burnout or switch activities.  Resting was a big adjustment for me.  I am trying to be more kind to my body.

Once again, just like last summer, I ate what I wanted.  Hello grains, beans, and diary.  I found that I can’t run eating a strict Paleo diet.  It is not right for my body’s needs at this point in my life.  I do successfully Cross Fit on a Paleo diet but I am not a strong runner on a Paleo diet.  Just like with my training, I am an all or nothing type of eater.  I don’t do moderation well.  I either eat all the doughnuts or I don’t touch them.  There is no one doughnut for me.  However, training for this race made me start to embrace moderation.  And honestly, I am doing all right with it.  The concept of moderation continues to be a challenge for me.  I am trying to be more in-tune with my body’s needs.

And Operation Strength Glutes, Hamstring and Core?  I am back in the  Cross Fit gym once again prepping for whatever adventure comes my way next.  Maybe the Estes Epic perhaps?

Happy Living!

Lauren E.

Follow along with my Colorado adventures, in and out of the kitchen, @castironandpearls on Instagram and like my page on Facebook.