No matter what ANYBODY says, no one is motivated all the time nor are people making ‘those gains’ that they want to in their fitness regimen all the time. We all burn out, we all have to take a break or switch things up a bit. More on that in a minute…
Each year, I run a certain half marathon and this past Saturday I ran that race which benefits Soaring Wings Children’s Ranch in the State of Arkansas.
Guess what? It was my best race yet! Why? Well it’s not because I’m awesome by any stretch but it is because of some very specific reasons.
For the back ground info, I’m going to pull over a blurb from my About Me Page
“When I found out I was pregnant with our son, I told myself that I was going to be the healthiest pregnant woman you had ever seen and wouldn’t gain more than the recommended amount of weight and keep my health in check. Long story short, I had major health problems during the entirety of my pregnancy, gained 60 pounds and my blood pressure was out of control. By the grace of God, I have been able to come back from that and I am making it my life mission to work with both women in their quest towards their goals.”
I have been running consistently since 6 weeks postpartum and by the time May 2017 (9 months later) rolled around, I quite literally could not get my mile time below 13:30 per mile. Yep, you read that right. THIRTEEN MINUTES AND THIRTY SECONDS PER STINKING MILE. To say I was frustrated is the biggest understatement of the century.
It had gotten to the point that I hated running and I simply couldn’t find the joy in it anymore. That’s when I decided it was time for a change of attitude and heart.
In May, I signed up to attend RRCA Running Coach Certification class because I knew that I loved running and I wanted to help others achieve their running goals. Plus, in the spirit of transparency, I wanted to help myself too.
THEN, in June of this year, I decided to start a cross training regimen. This is where with the help of one of my closest friends, I joined a Crossfit box and my next love was born… but we’ll come back to that!
The Half Marathon This Past Saturday
As I said this past half marathon was my most successful yet, grabbing 2 PRs in the process.
The morning started out as any other race starts out with me waking up before my alarm because I’m too excited to sleep well. I had my Spark (<~~ which is amazing by the way, click there to grab some for yourself. It’s a healthy energy drink that I always drink before I run. Great energy and I don’t crash afterward.)
Get to the race and start mingling and figuring out where I’m supposed to line up. Side note- have you ever noticed how many portable potties there are at races? OR how long the line is for the one bathroom at the starting line? Yeah, there’s a reason for that, but unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never know the struggle.
Back to the race…
Lined up with my time group and hit the road. PR one- I was able to run 10 of the miles without a walk break. Up until this year I have always done a run walk method; it was simply how I trained and part of the reason that I never got faster. You can go quickly with a run walk method, but that’s a whole other post entirely. It was HOW I was going about the run/walk method that didn’t work.
I get to mile 10 and I take a few steps, and I’m talking maybe 20 steps and I pick up the pace again staying right on track with my 2:30 finish. Mile 11.5 & I hit a wall like I have never hit before in my life. I’ve had the runner’s wall but nothing like this. I literally felt like I couldn’t put another foot in front of the other to keep going. Need proof that I’m not just blathering on? Here you go, this is me, at 11.5 miles: Not too pretty, huh? That’s okay. I had the amazing support of my hubs who was on his bike encouraging me and pushing me along. I got my second wind and finished out the race in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. (PR2)
And You’re Probably saying, So What?
By this point you’re like who the poop cares, woman? You had a great race, good for you, yah de yah. What did you do differently? How’d you do it? I’m getting there, trust me.
My first day of Crossfit was June 5, 2017 and I became an RRCA Certified Coach on September 20, 2017 and the results that I have had with both are incredible. Remember me saying that I couldn’t get my mile time down below 13:30 since pregnancy? Well, as you have read, I blew past that number and not only did I blow past that 13:30 per mile number, I was able to cut a total of 15 minutes and 30 seconds off of my best half marathon over all pace. This is in addition to the first PR I told you about of running ten miles without a walk break.
By starting a cross training regimen and once I knew how to properly train for a half marathon (even though I’d run many before), in just a few short months I was able to slice my time and increase my endurance by leaps and bounds. It’s true when I say that I am in better shape now than I was before I was pregnant and I was in pretty good shape before I was pregnant.
We can’t just run out the door and run down the road and around the corner as fast as we can the same way every single time and expect to see different results. We MUST mix things up and get our bodies guessing on what they will be doing next!
Couple of Words on Cross Training
Cross training does not equal Crossfit. Crossfit can equal cross training. Make sense? Okay, so moving on.
Without boring you with all the details of if something is run specific cross training, etc. My advice here is to make sure that you don’t allow yourself to burn out. I have found that being burnt out can slow your run time way down.
Bottom Line- if you keep doing the same thing you will get the same results. Period. You cannot just run until you fall out expecting your times to get faster. You must switch things up and this means a cross training regimen.
Again, your cross training may not mean Crossfit specifically; Crossfit isn’t for everyone. You must choose something you enjoy, but it must challenge you in different ways than running does.
The Importance of Tapering
I also believe that part of my success can be attributed to tapering. PROPER tapering, to be exact. Typical guidelines are to taper 2 weeks or so before a race which means you lower your miles significantly as well as ease up on any cross training you’re doing to give your body substantial rest. I actually did that this time. My runs were much lower in miles and at a slower pace and I did Crossfit only 3 times in those two weeks. How to taper can be a little bit more challenging if you’re not quite sure how to do it, but my training plans build it right in for you.
So…. What are you supposed to do with this information?
Well, in actuality the bottom line is, if you want to get faster, you need to mix things up. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. You simply can’t! It’s not how it works. That’s what I was doing wrong. I was doing the same thing over and over and over and I was expecting for something different to come out of it, and when it didn’t I got mad.
I finally got out of my comfort zone and tried something new and voila! Not only did it make a different, it made such a big difference that I was literally blown away. Cutting over 15 minutes off of a PR is absolutely unheard of.
All from mixing things up.
If you’re still reading this, it’s obvious you want to be a faster runner. Mix. It. Up. Cross train, do intervals, have tempo runs. You can do this.
I believe in you.