How NOT To Train For A Half Marathon {Indianapolis Women's Half Recap}

Thursday, June 19, 2014

In the weeks leading up to our wedding I was finalizing a lot of details - timing with the photographers, transportation, church, etc., picking readings & music for the ceremony, coordinating programs and people, moving to a new apartment, and also preparing for my second half marathon.

I'm known for making impulse decisions in the heat of the moment which is why immediately after completing the Flying Pig Half Marathon, I decided to register for the Indianapolis Women's Half on June 6 -- one week from our wedding! 

I've read that once you are trained up for a half or full marathon, you might as well complete another one. The first one can be used a training run and most people will do better on their second half/full as a result. Why not? Runner's World offers their suggestions here

I also love the idea of all-female races - girl power or something. Plus it's more acceptable to bust out my pink accessories. Really, I just thought the medal was kinda cute. {Isn't that why we all put ourselves through this?}

Here's the part where the cookie crumbles. After my first half, it took me two weeks before I was able to confidently run again - my knees felt very unstable so I stuck to weights and elliptical training. Then the excuses started piling up - exams, moving, wedding planning, PURE LAZINESS - I didn't feel like running. I ran maybe three times TOTAL between May 4 & June 6 (not including workouts where I ran on the treadmill for like 10 minutes at a time).  NOT SMART.

I look pretty happy for someone who knew they were going to struggle. By the time the week of the race had rolled around, I was committed to my plan of zero long runs. I was afraid that if I attempted a long run too close to the half, I wouldn't recover in time and be screwed for the race. I decided to go rogue.

Long story short, the race was rough - mentally more than physically. There was walking involved. There was "why am I so stupid" and a variety of other less PG friendly phrases involved. Basically, I mentally kicked my ass across Indianapolis for 13.1 miles - why did I do that to myself?

The first two miles I thought "Surely this gets better." By mile 6, I realized that it did not and would not. By mile 9, I had developed a nice patch of chub rub under my arm and had decided to alternate run/walking the rest of the way home. Mile 11 marked BONK central. I was pissed. I had two miles can do anything for 2 more miles, Heather. By this point I was walking more than I was running and I was starting to get really, really down on myself. Tears. Very hot out. Old ladies kicking my butt. 

Eventually I started to see the finish line and then I saw Nick who looked way more excited than I did. I booked it to the finish line and I was DONE. DONE. DONE. I wasn't dead but I felt defeated. At that moment I made the impulse decision to never mess up my training again. Then we went home and I drowned my sorrows in Lay's Potato Chips & a "soothing" ice bath. 

All things considered, I did FINISH so I consider that to be a victory. Lessons were learned and now I know how important it is to stick to my training. I should have been a hell of a lot faster than my first race - Indianapolis is FLAT. There are no excuses.

To be clear, I still think it's a perfectly good idea to complete multiple half marathons or any time of races back to back but you must give yourself time to recover and you MUST stick to your training plan. I know for sure that I will not be attempting a full marathon until I am 100% confident I will stick to my training (as well as being faster and lighter - I'm not going to drop hundreds of dollars for a marathon until I am more confident as a runner). 

My next half marathon goal isn't until November - Monumental Half Marathon in Indianapolis. The next few months I will be increasing my fitness, leaning out, and getting faster. 

In August, I will start my half marathon training again - knowing that I CAN do it will take a lot of the anxiety out of training. Not knowing what to expect from my first 8, 10, 12 miler made me really dread training - I was super scared.  Now the mystery is gone. It is so empowering to KNOW I can do it - now I just need to do it BETTER

This a caution to all you new runners out there - you have to put the work in, even when you're scared and even when you feel lazy. Here's to learning from our mistakes and continuing to improve! 

Have you ever bonked during a race?
Do you have any training tips?


  1. awe... I wish you could sit on the outside of yourself and look in from my angle..... Im sitting here just so proud of you for completing 1 and then you even completed a 2nd so quickly afterward..... YOu did good! You did real good!

  2. I know it's not your best, but I you made it. Good on you!!!

  3. Good job Chica!! I did two halves in May and just finally started running again after a month long break. I needed it. My next half isn't until October so back to building up the mileage. XOX

  4. This reminds of the time my dad & i did a half... my dad ran one time in the 6 months leading up to the race and got DESTROYED!! he could not walk after the race... so at least it's not as bad as that! :) but hey, props for mentally pushing through to the end and good luck with starting up training again

  5. Oh goodness! Way to go Daddio haha I don't even want to know what that felt like!

  6. Thank you and congrats on your running accomplishments! Any tips for my next half?

  7. Thanks, Shannon! Finishing really is the ultimate goal at this point :)

  8. Thank you for your kind words, Cindie! I guess we are all our worst critic. I know I'm capable of more but I should also be proud of the accomplishment regardless.

  9. WAY to go on your second half. Really don't beat yourself up too much about it. Training for me is so important and with out it, I would have NEVER ran my first half this JUNE. I'm signed up for my second half for October, So I'll be training in August too. I could ALWAYS use an accountability partner.

  10. I ran the race too, and seriously struggled the second half due to the heat. At one point I looked ahead as far as I could see and behind me as far as I could see, and I didn't see a single person running. It was a tough race! I'm running the monumental half next! (stopping by from )