half-marathon training: long run recap #1

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This past Saturday, I had four miles on my schedule for my half-marathon training. As I promised myself to do as many long runs outside as possible, I started planning on where to run that morning.

I thought about the Cleveland Metroparks options nearby, but I was ready to run sans a car ride. I decided to take advantage of my neighborhood’s (for the most part) flat side streets and to stay close to home.

I jumped on USA Track & Field (USATF) website to plan my route on their mapping system:


I plugged in zip code, found my street and started clicking out a route. I created the perfect route that would take me on exact two mile loop starting and ending at my house. Perfect! I just had to remember the appropriate side streets to turn down and I was good to go.

I stretched out my legs for about five minutes before walking out the door. I did a quick walk up and down my side street to get the legs going before starting on the two mile loop.

MILE ONE: It was about 60 degrees and overcast when I started out. I was chilly but remembered that I’d be plenty hot enough by that fourth mile. I started at a slow pace knowing that I had a long journey ahead of me. As my first mile is usually the hardest for me as my legs warm up, I was surprised to find that they were feeling pretty good. Maybe those weekday workouts were helping out.  My mind was in over-drive and I did my best to focus on my breathing and my playlist of music. I finished the first mile feeling strong.

MILE TWO: I kept up a pace going through the end of the first mile and into the first part of the second mile. As I made the third turn of my loop, I noticed the side street that I chose had a slight incline that I would get to enjoy – twice. I listened to my breathe and realized I needed to slow down as I climbed the hill. To keep up my motivation, I picked out a mailbox in the distance and say to myself “just make it to that mailbox”. Once I’d get to that mailbox, I’d pick another one. I managed to get to the top of the incline not having to stop to walk. During my first mile, I originally told myself I would stop at my house at the end of the first loop for water and a bathroom break. However, as I passed my house, I just kept running and even picked up my pace. I was moving and nothing was stopping me.

MILE THREE: Well, that burst of energy at the end of my second mile got me in trouble about a quarter of a mile into my third mile. The combination of running too quickly and breathing too hard developed into a nasty side stitch. On top of it, I swear it warmed up ten degrees when the sun finally came out. I was hot. I ended up having to take three walk breaks to get through the pain, but it was gone by the end of this mile.

MILE FOUR: My last walk break ended at the beginning of this fourth mile. I told myself, “keep it slow – it’s just one more mile.” As I made the turn on to that side street with the previously mentioned incline, an older gentleman out on a nice Saturday morning bicycle ride passed me and said “keep up the good work, you are almost there!” How did he know?! To get through the hill, I practiced my plan of a slower pace with visual motivation markers. As I got to the top of the incline, I picked up pace again when I saw my house in the distance. I finished the second loop strong and was so happy to know I rocked four miles! I did another up and down my side street as a cool down before stretching in my family room post-run.


  • My biggest challenges are going to be breathing related. This has always been my biggest problem. I push to go to quickly too soon and am unable to keep up. I need to focus on my breathe (in running, in yoga and IN LIFE) as it’s a clear indication of what my body needs in that moment.
  • I could have run another two mile loop. My energy level was high and my legs felt great. I think years of hour long cardio kickboxing helped to build some serious endurance capabilities. I think this is a good sign for some of the upcoming long runs.
  • My two mile loop was the perfect training route. The side streets were quiet, so wasn’t an over-abundance of traffic to worry about dodging. Having the changes in incline – even though they weren’t drastic – helped to provide a realistic race environment. I also liked having the option to stop at home midway if I really needed it.
  • I’m going to have to adjust my training schedule. I woke up Sunday morning and realized that a 90 minute hot yoga session would leave me a hot mess on Monday. I’m thinking about switching my Sundays and Thursdays. Sundays will be a “easy walk/yoga” day and I can go to yoga class on Thursday evenings instead.
  • I need more long sleeve training tops. It’s official Fall in Cleveland! I gotta get myself to TJMaxx STAT. I did pick up two pairs of FILA workout pants at Kohl’s last weekend. I was taking advantage of that 30% off coupon!
  • I am a bottomless pit. I couldn’t get food in me fast enough when I was done. As a former dieter, it’s incredibly difficult to listen to my body and the give it all the fuel that it needs.  I’ve been slacking in my protein consumption lately, so I’m trying to keep an eye on that. I bought some EAS Myoplex shakes to add to my post-workout green monsters that get me that added protein to help with muscle recovery.


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  1. Katie @ Healthy Heddleston says:

    Good Job Alicia!! You’ll rock those 5 miles this week! I completely agree with you.. I need more long sleeve tops suitable for running! And.. go ahead and adjust your training schedule. I have a schedule but each week — I see what is actually going on in my work/personal schedule.. and tweak my training schedule to adjust my life plus get all my appropriate workouts in!

    I have 9 miles on my schedule this week! Still not sure which day those will be happening.. I think Friday for now though 🙂

  2. Ashley says:

    Your “bottomless pit” bullet point is exactly why I am no longer pursuing a half marathon. I think training is a code word for being tired and hungry all the time. That said, I give you all the credit in the world for doing it, and I am really excited to read about it. Go Alicia!

  3. Laura Georgina says:

    So proud of you! I hope that getting through it makes you feel like you’ll get to that half-marathon strong and trained. There’s something really exciting about the first long run when you’re training and I’m so glad it went well for you.

  4. Heather says:

    Great job!!!
    Here’s a tip to control your breathing:
    Pick a foot, and each time that foot hits the ground you’ll alternate a breath. So, when my left foot hits I breathe in, and when it hits again I exhale. Does that make sense? This works especially well when you feel you’re hitting a wall! Let me know if you try it. 🙂
    Make sure you honor your hunger. You may even gain a few pounds during training, but that’s normal. Don’t stress about it. You’re strong!!!

  5. Maren says:

    Congrats on the run! 4 miles is an amazing distance, short enough it doesn’t kill the whole day but long enough that you feel good and tired after. Hope you have a great week. I’m voting for you on Project Food Blog.

  6. Jess says:

    Awesome job, girl!! I’m glad you’re already learning so much on your half marathon training runs! I’m with you – ALWAYS so hungry when in running mode! You burn some serious calories with any running you do, so the longer you go, the hungrier you’ll find yourself. And I totally agree with you on the kickboxing comment – DEFINITELY boosted my endurance too, how cool huh??

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