how i’m changing the way i train for #rnrstl

So, today officially marks 12 weeks until Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis.  While I was running RNRCHI and understanding that I absolutely was not going to PR, I was about ready to give up all together on attempting another half marathon PR this year.  So far, I am 0 for 2, and Lord knows I do NOT want to be 0 for 3.  One of the things I fear most in life is failure.  I am competitive by nature and want to be the BEST at everything I do.  I’m not OK with being mediocre and while I absolutely know that I finish in the top 10% of pretty much every race I run in – which is far from mediocre – it’s not the best I know I can be.

I’ve had to take a hard look at my training to figure out where I’m going wrong.  I KNOW that I have the speed in me to break 1:35.  There is no doubt in my mind that I can do that.  I have the confidence to do it and the training behind me to do it.  A strained muscle is no a legitimate excuse for not running my best.  And believe me, compared to the weather I have been training in all summer, weather did not play a factor in how I felt.

So, where did I go wrong?  Was it my training?  Was it a pulled muscle?  Am I just not mentally tough enough?  Or was it the thing I lack on – my nutrition?

As I look back on my training, I feel like those were ALL aspects that I neglected at some level.  My training was sound and I plan on training pretty much the same way again, but there is definitely room for improvement.  Same goes for injury prevention and nutrition.  Here is how I plan on tackling those 3 things in my 3rd attempt this year at a half marathon PR.


I followed a modified version (one I modified myself as a certified running coach) of the Unbreakable Runner elite half marathon training plan.  If you haven’t read this book and are looking to get faster and stronger as a runner, I totally recommend it.  It is an easy read and while I know there are some aspects that I don’t necessarily agree with, a lot of the workouts in the training really helped me with my speed.  I plan on following pretty much the same plan again, but I am going to focus on a few extra things to really get my butt in gear.


  1. No more just “running fast” on my interval workouts or repeats.  Running fast just didn’t cut it for me.  Yes, it helped improve my speed, but I wasn’t looking at hitting certain splits, and I do feel like that played a huge factor in my training.  If I want to PR, I HAVE to focus on hitting those split times during those workouts.  ‘Nuff said.
  2. Tempo Runs.  They were completely missing from my training this time around.  I honestly didn’t even look at the pace I was supposed to keep until the day before the race (HUGE mistake right there), so I never actually knew what my race pace felt like.  Tempo runs HAVE to be at half marathon pace and I did ZERO this time around.  So, those need to get added back in to my training for sure.  Muscle memory of that pace will play a huge part on race day.
  3. Hills.  There is this hill toward the end of every single one of my runs and it KILLS me.  I have no idea why – it’s not really very steep or even long, but I hate it.  Where we used to live, I ran hills with every single run – ones that were longer AND steeper than this stupid little one.  Now, that is pretty much the only hill I ever run (unless I’m running after work) and it is breaking me.  I’m DONE with it breaking me.  My plan calls for Tabata sprints almost every week – no more leg speed for me.  I am doing those on that DANG hill in hopes that I can overcome that hill – and because St. Louis has A LOT more hills than Chicago.


Honestly, this hasn’t even been on my radar.  And guess what?  It absolutely needs to be.  While I can easily run on an empty stomach, no problem, these past 2 half marathons, by the end I’m spent and I know a lot has to do with my fueling – or lack thereof.  I think that not only am I not hydrating well during the race, but I’m going into the race dehydrated.  Not good.  It won’t be nearly as hot in St. Louis in October as it was for Chicago, but I still know that my body needs SOMETHING to finish that race strong.

My goal this time around is to hydrate before EACH run – long, short, speed, etc., as well as come up with a fueling strategy for those long runs.  I don’t handle food in my stomach well during a run (before or after, I’m fine), so I know that fueling will be in the form of water and Gatorade.  Now, it’s just determining when + how much to fuel/hydrate, and practicing it during EVERY long run.  I see a lot of loops in my near future.  Like my high school choir teacher would always say, “Perfect practice makes perfect!”


Too bad beer doesn’t count as fuel…

Injury Prevention.

I can say that this is probably the first summer where I’ve actually been really good about strength training.  Strength training in the summer is mostly body weight exercises I can do in my living room, but it’s better than nothing, like I typically do during the summer.  So, as far as strength training is concerned, I’m good with that.  But, that doesn’t mean that will keep me injury free.

These past 12 weeks, I’ve completely neglected hip + core work, as well as stretching.  You can check out the hip circuit I will be doing pretty much before or after every single run – and what I’ll be doing daily with my middle school cross country team.  But, I also know that I need to be strengthening my core and getting back into stretching.  4AM workouts are definitely not going to help with this, so I am planning on doing yoga in the mornings on my off days and doing core work after my shorter runs.

The Concrete Runner - Hip Circuit for Runners

I am hoping that I have this written down and am sharing it with THE WORLD that I will actually have some incentive to stick to it.  It’s disappointing to me to come back and have to write a race recap about the race I was training for a PR for and didn’t PR.  Yup, I’m frustrated and disappointed.  I know there are other races – that’s what I had to keep telling myself – and I’m actually pretty proud of myself for NOT giving up and moving down to the 10K.

Here’s to 12 more weeks of half marathon training… Hopefully I get that PR so I can tell you how well this plan worked for me!


  • Jeph Maags

    I’m terrible with nutrition and strength training as well. I never practice my fuelling, but I like that idea. My last race was the first time I tried gels and to be honest, i didn’t notice anything because I had nothing to compare it to. Same with injury prevention. I really do nothing for this. When I feel an injury coming on, I start trying to rest it and strengthen the area, but I’m definitely not proactive. Have to get better at that. Good luck in St. Louis!

    • Kristen

      I really am terrible with it too, but I noticed that I’ve needed something with each race so far this year. Thinking it will help my training a bit!