For the past year I have been struggling to improve my half marathon time. I was running, on average, five days a week and logging serious miles. It seemed like the more I ran the slower I got. I knew, after months of being stuck in a rut, part of the issue was mental and part was physical.
Starting this past winter I made a number of changes to my diet and workout routine; I am impressed with the results I have seen. My first half marathon this season was a few weeks ago, and my finish time was over ten minutes faster than my final half marathon of last season, which I ran in November.
I attribute my results to three primary changes:
1. I’ve changed my diet. I have significantly reduced the amount of carbs I eat. I have also eliminated white sugar, and have added protein shakes in the morning for breakfast, and date-packed protein bars for my afternoon snack. I feel significantly more energized making these small changes to my diet. I don’t track or log food, it’s just not practical for me. I definitely have cheat days, and other times, like rainy Sunday afternoons, I just feel like putting sugar in my coffee and washing it down with a bowl of ice cream. I don’t stress about my diet, but I do pay attention, and the changes have made a difference.
2. I cross train…like REALLY cross train. I used to consider walking the dog, or walking my kiddos around the neighborhood, cross training. I joined a gym that offers large personal training sessions, and I attend class two to three days a week. The training sessions incorporate strength training, core straining and metabolic endurance, all of which have made me a stronger runner.
3. I run less to run faster! It’s the strangest thing, but my body is performing better by running fewer miles. Since spring, I have not run more than three times a week, usually just two times per week, with one short and one long run. Every time I run, my legs feel fantastic and my pace is faster than last summer. I can’t pretend to understand the science behind it, perhaps it really is a mental thing, but I feel wonderful. I don’t dread running, I don’t feel stuck in a rut, and my pace is still improving.
Have you ever encountered this phenomenon? What have you done to improve your results…what works for you?
Run on ladies, make it happen!