Happy Holidays from the fight and flight response! I hope you have all managed to rest up, enjoy time with your loved ones, indulge in some delicious food and also (perhaps) squeeze in some runs or other forms of exercise! I had a relaxing staycation in London, which has left me feeling energetic and psyched for my next big challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still on my marathon break, having just run the ING New York City Marathon last month and the Paris Marathon before that. But having trained my heart out for over 18 weeks to smash my sub-3:40 marathon goal, it seems wasteful not to take advantage of all that hard work! Each day I catch a glimpse of my “race wall” – a wall in my bedroom that I have plastered with race numbers, medals, photos and other memorabilia, mostly from 2010 – and think, “Did I really do all of those races?! How I can keep up my momentum and continue to improve as a runner in 2011 without completely giving up my social life, travel plans etc?”

Don’t get me wrong – I loved my post-marathon time off of running and the weeks of aimless exercise that ensued! Garmin-less easy runs, yoga, new gym classes and many rest days helped me make a strong recovery both physically and mentally after having pushed myself for so long. After awhile, however, I started to get bored and hungered for new goals to keep me motivated during the dark, cold winter months – something more interesting than simply “stay in shape.”

My running coach, Sam Murphy, suggested that I enter some shorter races, which sounded like a great idea as I stared at my unusually empty race calendar. Given my increased strength and endurance from marathon training, I could perhaps achieve some new PBs! I also hope to expand my running horizons and try a few more trail races once it warms up, as well as a marathon in the fall to keep me in marathon shape before I (hopefully) tackle Boston in 2012.

Although I’ve been back into structured training for many weeks now, this week officially marks the beginning of my new target – a half marathon PB.  This will be the first race I train for without any regular assistance from my coach in about a year. I’ve been very spoiled, receiving Sam’s training schedules each week as well as other general advice! You can never really predict what will happen on race day, but I’m confident that IF I stay focused, listen to my body, train wisely and somehow keep my sweet tooth in check, I’ll do just fine. I’ve learned so much from my coach and from my own experiences while training for two marathons, two 20-milers, six half marathons, four 10ks and many other races in the last year and a half (yep, I just counted them on the wall!), so I’m pretty revved up to take on this next challenge on my own.

THE GOAL: To finally beat my best half marathon time of 1:37:34. I’ve been trying to get sub-1:37 ever since I discovered that this time would give me automatic entry to the NYC marathon, which would be pretty awesome. I would love to do that race again.

THE RACE: Ideally, I would run the same course, the Royal Parks Half Marathon, to eliminate as many variables as possible. However, Royal Parks is in October, and thus too late, so I settled on the Asics Fleet pre-London Half Marathon on March 20th. This race is local, advertised as a fast course with an excellent chance to achieve a personal best time, small enough to give me room to run my (very ambitious) pace and exactly the time of year I was after.

THE SUB-GOAL: To beat my best 10k time of 45:04. I haven’t done a 10K race in over a year, and I’ll be racing this right after my beach holiday, but I am still hopeful!

THE (TRAINING) RACE: The Mornington Chasers Winter 10k in Regents Park (same course as my best time) on February 6th.

THE PLAN OF ATTACK: So far, I’ve been borrowing bits and pieces from my previous marathon schedules, which include tons of great sessions, but I need to compose a full 12-week schedule (which is, apparently, the ideal build-up to a half marathon) that is more geared towards the half distance. For those of you who are interested, I will be posting my training program so you can follow my progress, or even better, join the fun!

THE NUTRITION STRATEGY: My diet has been pretty horrible lately (and by lately, I mean since the NYC marathon), but hey it’s the holidays, right?! New Year, new goal, new nutrition effort. Although I certainly don’t look like I need to lose weight, I need to lose about 5 pounds if I hope to achieve my goal. On average, runners are two seconds per mile faster for every pound they lose, and that really adds up over longer distances! I’m going to make a concerted effort to be more mindful of what I eat and to ensure I consume plenty of protein, complex carbs, fresh produce and healthy fats to fuel my runs! Check out my recipe page for some of my favorite runner-friendly recipes!

And now, it’s time for a sports massage. What better way to prime myself for the New Year?!

Happy running to you all, and wishing you a very healthy and exciting 2011!

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