Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Training Evolution & Becoming a CHaD Kid Ambassador

My training strategy has changed a bit from the first races I did over two years ago. Going into my first 5k, I had no idea what I was doing, I only knew that I had to run about 3 miles. It was a a St. Patrick's Day race, so it was pretty chilly when I started training for it (and the coldest race I've done to date!). At the apartment that we lived in at the time, we had the perfect one mile loop around our neighborhood, which was important to me because I wasn't comfortable getting too far away from my house yet. In the beginning of my training (though, it seems silly to even call it training), I did a lot of indoor cardio work and HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which did get my heart pumping and somewhat used to the intensity of running, plus built up my leg muscles. The first run that I tracked, (which might have been my 2nd run?), was 3 miles at 12:41 pace. I don't remember this run at all! I can only imagine it must have something to do with the body's ability to forget pain. ;) Most of my training prior to registering for my first half marathon was literally just practicing to run distances. I didn't try to go fast, I just went. I didn't follow a training plan, I just ran a few times per week.
My first tracked run!

When I got back from my honeymoon at the end of June 2013, I decided it was time to register for the local half marathon that had been taunting me for a few weeks. I went straight to Google to find a training schedule that worked well for me, my family and the time that I could devote. I learned a lot in training for that half -- a lot about myself, a lot about what my body could do and a lot about what I SHOULDN'T do when training for a long race (like using Gu...Sorry Gu lovers, I'll never do it again!). I also kept myself accountable by sharing in the training experience with my cousin Meaghan (who is also running Baystate and blogging about it - check her out!). We'd report on our runs and we followed similar training plans. This was so important to get us both through the long, hot, early runs!
Meaghan and I after our first half marathons!

Not only is covering the distance an important part of training, but so is mentally preparing. It's incredible the things that your mind will tell you while you're running long distances alone, early in the morning, in the cold or heat, when everything seems miserable. Those demons will tell you that you could turn back early and go home (no one will know anyway), or that you probably will never be able to go 13 miles because 8 feels so hard right now. Even worse, the demons that tell you you're not a real runner anyway (but seriously, you are!), or that you don't look like a runner because you have normal human thighs, or a belly that jiggles. Self-doubt and lack of confidence are performance killers! It sounds silly, but even the best runners who doubt their abilities will never perform at their peak. Remember Thomas the Tank Engine? He taught us all a valuable lesson: If you think you can, you totally can! Remind yourself that you are stronger than you think, and soon you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish. Training for a race of any distance requires some mental strength that is only learned during the journey to the starting line. It's hard, physically and mentally, but pushing through those tough training runs only means you're stronger for it! Oh, and it makes getting the bling at the end that much more delicious!

Two years later, I'm comfortable enough with the half marathon distance, that I feel physically capable of running 13.1 miles most weeks, without thinking about it (believe me though, I don't). I look for new goals to reach to keep me motivated to keep up the training. Part of the reason that I chose to run my first marathon this fall, is because I know I'll need to focus on the training for it. I enjoy the long runs, finding new routes, trying new fueling methods, etc. I've learned what works for me as far as training plans go, related to the timing, days and how often. I'm starting to add in some new forms of training, now that I live so close to our high school and middle school tracks!

I'm excited to be reporting on this marathon journey and eventually looking back on it and seeing how far I've come, how I fought off those mental demons and what fueling methods worked best for this distance.
In Cameron news, we're so excited to share that Cameron is now an official CHaD Kid Ambassador! His first call of duty is coming up on Saturday, June 27th at 7pm, at the CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game in Manchester, NH! He's going to be one of the few CHaD kids who gets to go onto the field with the players during the coin toss and the singing of the National Anthem. If you are interested in attending the game, you can purchase tickets here!

There are a few other events over the summer that he'll be involved in as well, including the Battle of the Badges Baseball game in August.
I'm super excited for him and know that he's going to love every minute of it!

I'm working on a couple of local fundraiser nights, so I will keep the information updated on my blog and will share on Facebook as well.

**Save the date for a CHaD Fundraiser Paint Night with my super talented cousin Katy! We've just officially booked the date of July 11th and will share details as the date gets closer.**

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