The first four weeks of my 14-week half-marathon training plan are in the books. It’s been interesting. The current distance of my weekly long run — eight miles* — doesn’t bother me, and I feel confident that the 13.1 miles of the half won’t be too much trouble. That supposes I can find a way to keep my knee happy without getting any more blisters on my heel. Yesterday’s snowy long-run in my old shoes without the fancy shoe inserts was fine, but I started to notice a little stiffness in my knee by the time I was done. This week promises to be a light one for mileage before the plan bumps me up next week to longer distances and more intense speedwork. I’ll work on breaking those shoes/inserts in a bit more during this easy week.
Finding a good pace is going to be the most challenging aspect of the race, I suspect. I’ve been using my weekly tempo/speedwork runs to get a sense of what’s too fast and what it feels like to “gut it out” for an extended period of time. To be sure, the main accomplishment will be finishing the half-marathon, but I want to run it as well as I can. That’s what those aggressive treadmill workouts every Thursday are there for, I guess.
The other big challenge remains getting my blood glucose (BG) where I want it when I run. I’ve had some good workouts, where my ending BG was almost exactly the same as where I started or where I’ve been able to hit a “target” BG at the end after starting a bit high. But I’ve also had trouble on my last two tempo workouts. Two weeks ago I couldn’t finish the whole workout (despite feeling pretty strong) because my BG was crashing and I could see the funny Stop running NOW! spots in front of my eyes. And then last week I really struggled and wasn’t able to go the full distance again; this time because I cut back on the amount of basal insulin too much, making it hard to get energy into my muscles. Fortunately, I do these after-work workouts in my basement. Being close to home if something goes wrong is the only good thing about running on a treadmill, in my opinion.
I’m still not confident enough to say that I’ve figured out food and exercise, but I’ve had more good experiences than bad lately. I have learned to anticipate the relatively slow release of Gü energy gels before an afternoon run and Clif Bar energy bars before a morning run. Eating them about 20-30 minutes before running or bicycling seems to give them a chance to hit my blood about the same time that I need to start drawing on them. Of course, I always carry more glucose tablets with me than I need when I leave the house. And I usually have to bolus between 0.5 and 1.0 units of insulin after any kind of workout no matter where I end up (unless I’m low) to keep from bouncing higher.
Hopefully by March 20th I’ll have all my ninja skills working at the same time.
* — I accidentally lengthened the distance of my long runs early on and decided to just keep going with it. After talking with one of my badass running coworkers — and there are currently four of us involved in distance running — I’ve decided to modify my plan, so that the first time I run the full half distance won’t be on race day. It was a fortuitous accident that led me to run some longer distances by mistake, I guess.