shifting focus

While I have a history of running marathons (OK, only 2) and half marathons, I really am not a long distance runner.  In fact, marathons + half marathons are my 2 least favorite distances.  The only reasons I tend to run them is because they are challenging and give me a change of pace (no pun intended).

I’m actually more of a 5K + 10K runner.  And I love running these distances because I LOVE to run FAST!  To me, trying to run sub-6:30 miles for 3 miles is way more fun than trying to run 8-minute miles for 13 or 26 miles.  Sure, I could strive to keep a 6:30 pace for a half marathon, but really, that just does not sound like fun.  (As much as I wish I was, I’m no Mile Posts.)  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that my chances of winning a 5K or 10K are better than at the half or marathon distances.  In fact, the only race I’ve ever won was a 5K and I’ve placed as a top female or in my age group in most of the 5Ks and 10Ks I’ve run.  I guess I just need the extra motivation of winning a medal or plaque at the end of my race instead of getting a medal that everyone gets regardless of place or time.

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Pre long run fuel:  wheat toast with peanut butter + honey apple butter

While I can’t say I’ll never run a marathon or half again (obviously, since I’m running a half in about a month and I have to a BQ on my Bucket List), I really want to focus on training year round at shorter distances.  Thankfully, I’m going with my own training plan and can decide exactly how far I want/need to run on a daily basis.  So, I’m not training for my half marathon like I normally would.  Instead of increasing my long run distances until I hit 12 miles two weeks before race day, my longest run is going to top out at 10 miles.

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Post long run breakfast:  steel cut oats made with chia seed + vanilla soymilk on top of hot apples and topped with Biscoff spread + 1/2 a cinnamon chip scone

I have a few reasons why I decided on 10 miles to be my longest distance:

  • While 10 miles is NOT 13.1, I figure it’s close enough that I can push myself those last 3.1 miles.  My goal for this half is not to PR (my goal time is 8 minutes slower than my PR) so I’m not too concerned about my time or if those last 3 miles suck.  Plus, I’ll hit a few 10 mile runs before the half so my body will be trained to run at least 10 fairy easily.  And if you think about it, most marathoners only run a 20-miler prior to the race, so it’s really not that much different.
  • I can continue training with 10 milers year round and stay prepared for both half marathons if I choose to do one and shorter distances.  I like the thought of a 10 miler to keep my endurance up for shorter distances while still being able to focus on speed and being able to throw a half or 2 into the mix throughout the year and still feel fairly prepared and don’t have to be fully committed months ahead of time.
  • Number 1 reason I’m peaking at 10 miles:  I simply don’t have the time to run much longer than an hour and a half on the weekends.  I ran 10 miles this weekend in 1:20:25 (8-minute pace).  Tack on 2 or 3 more miles, and that’s quite a long time to be away from my baby.  Plus, I’ve been busy with job fairs, interviews, coaching, etc. on the weekends the past few weeks, and with Matt starting the track season, I’m running out of time on the weekends.  10 miles seems to be the perfect amount of time for me to be gone at one time.

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What Daddy + MacKenna do together while Mommy is running.

And since I’ll be focusing on shorter distances, I’ll be able to race a lot more.  Race entry fees for 5Ks are only around $25, while half marathons usually run about $75.  Running 3 5Ks sounds much more appealing than just 1 half marathon.

I’m not giving up half marathons or marathons entirely.  I just simply can’t commit the time to training for them right now.  I’m still running GO! St. Louis in April and am definitely excited about it!  Whether I’ll be completely prepared without running 12 miles ahead of time, we’ll find out on race day.  I’m interested to see how hard those last 3 miles will be and if keeping my long runs around 10 miles will keep me prepared for multiple distances year round.

And while we’re talking about my upcoming half marathon, please consider donating on my fundraising page for the Girls on the Run SoleMates program.  I’m still quite a bit away from my goal and would love all the help I can get.  I love GOTR and think it is such a wonderful program for young girls.  One of my greatest accomplishments as a teacher has been coaching my 5th graders last year in GOTR, helping them set goals, and watching them achieve those goals as they crossed the finish line last spring at the 5K.  What a great feeling!

What do you think – is 10 miles enough for me to be prepared for the half?  Has anyone run a half marathon with shorter than a 12 mile training run?  

  • Jen

    You’re SO fast, girl! You can definitely run 1/2s well by peaking at 10mi!

    MacKenna keeps getting cuter 🙂
    Jen recently posted..A new challenge

    • Kristen

      Aw, thanks Jen! I’m hoping 10 is just right!

  • I ran my first half without ever running more than 10…and without ever wearing a garmin and pacing!…and ran it in 1:40 (faster than I could now!!) so I’d say you’re fine! Jealous of our speediness 🙂 keep it up girl! And let’s run a 10 miler sometime!

    • Kristen

      Thank Natalie – You definitely make me feel better! We definitely need to meet up for a run sometime! We would have to do 10 when I have someone to watch MacKenna though – I can’t push a stroller for more than 3 or 4 miles right now!

  • No doubt that you will do just fine!!! You are so fast. I would definitely focus on shorter races if I had your speed in my legs too! 🙂
    Kristy @ Breath of Sunshine recently posted..Run until you Feel Better

    • Kristen

      Ha, thanks Kristy!

  • Katie D.

    I’m running the same half and am thinking at topping out at 10.9 miles (which I’ve ran twice, somehow 11 miles is elusive!). My weekends between now and race day are packed and taking 2 hours out to run 12 doesn’t seem feasible. I’m focusing on more mid-week runs and more back-to-back runs (I usually never run back-to-back days). I’ve ran a couple 2-a-days, to mimic running on dead/tired legs.

    • Kristen

      Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of back to back (ran 10 yesterday, 3 today) and a few 2-a-days (barefoot – trying to up my mileage with that). I definitely think running back to back days makes a difference. I did that with my last marathon – I just didn’t run the race like I should have! 😉

  • I think 10 miles is the perfect distance to max at. Then again, I’m kind of in shock when you talk about your mile times. For me, running a 5k at 8 minute miles is my personal best 🙂 I was still proud of that, though!

    I’ll be running a half in KC the day before the Go! StL race and I can’t wait!
    Michelle (Better with Berries) recently posted..Shiny and New

    • Kristen

      Hey, 8 minute miles are speedy too! I’ve been wanting to do my own little ultra like that! I’ve thought about registering for the 5K on Saturday and then run the half on Sunday, but I might wait til next year!

  • Lee

    I have several times! The Hal Higdon Novice Plan, which I’ve used many times, has the longest run before the half as ten miles.
    Lee recently posted..11 Miles

    • Kristen

      That makes me feel so much better! I don’t know why I didn’t think about looking at his plans! I ALWAYS follow them!

  • My training plans go longer than 10 miles, but life usually gets in the way and I rarely run longer than 10 when training for a half. I’d love to be able to run even 8 minute miles – I can’t even do that for my PT test which is only 2 miles. You are so awesome!!

    • Kristen

      Thanks Lani! I’ve been working hard for sure!