I didn’t get out to run until Wednesday, but had a short but good run. I was still worried about possibly being affected by my illness, so I had been taking it easy. Every time I had tried to get out, something didn’t feel quite right and I was starting to get worried about being ready for the race in a couple weeks. However, my pace seemed to be back up and my heart rate back down, so I felt pretty good about my condition going into the long weekend.
After my good run on Wednesday, I decided to try and do a medium length run on Friday, followed by a short run on Saturday morning and then push my long run back to Monday since I had the day off. I was really glad for the day off, since it allowed me to get a little extra time to prepare for my long run. The longest distance I had run since Kentucky was 8.5 miles and my illness really set me back, so some more recovery seemed good. It also allowed me to taper a little bit less for the race. I’ve felt like a 2 week taper is maybe a bit too much for a half marathon, so I don’t mind having my long run one day closer to the race.
However, my plans went in the toilet when I went out on Friday. I’m not sure what was wrong, but my legs felt really weak, so I aborted the run after only 2.5 miles. My plan was to try and get up on Saturday morning and do a somewhat shorter run. My original plan had been something like 7 miles/3 miles, but instead I’d only go for 5 or 6 on Saturday. I got out in the morning, but it was already pretty hot and my heartrate wouldn’t stay down. I eventually walked around mile 4 just to get it down a little and then wrapped up the run at 5 miles.
With all this, I wasn’t sure where this left me for Monday’s run as well as the half marathon. I was starting to think strongly about backing out and just doing the 5K, but it all depended on how Monday’s run would go.
I had a few thoughts about what I might try to do. At this point, making it to 13.1 miles without a significant amount of walking seemed nearly impossible. I was starting to think about the Galloway style of running where I was really doing a run/walk. I thought this might be a good idea for my run on Monday. I had never trained this way before and I figured it might be a good way to test it out and see if I’d do well with it and test whether or not doing 4 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking for an entire half marathon was even a viable strategy.
Eventually I decided against doing this–at least for the entire run. If I had decided on this weeks ago, it might have been better, but this is not how I have ever trained, and I was worried it would not really be that beneficial to do it for the entire run. However, I still wanted to get to 10 miles and it was probably not happening if I just tried to run the whole way. Plus, if I pushed too hard today, that would almost certainly mean my body would be ruined for the race.
So what I ended up doing was sort of a mini-Galloway. I parked my car in a different spot so that my loops would be slightly less than 2 miles. This would give me frequent breaks and also allow me to get plenty of water on what seemed to be a hot day. In addition, I would take walking breaks which would become more frequent as I went along.
I set my alarm for 6:00 AM, but didn’t quite make it out to start until almost 7:30. It was not too hot when I was in the shade, but it was pretty hot in the sun. I did my first lap without a walk and then for my second lap, I added a little extra distance to make up for the fact that my loops were slightly less than 2 miles and also to get at least one big hill into my run. I was going to walk about halfway through this loop, but that was right when I was hitting the hill, so I waited until I went up and then down the hill. I also only walked once during my next loop, which was back to normal length.
After this, I was at about 6.3 miles and starting to get a little tired, but I had already decided the 4th and 5th loops would be full out Gallowalking. For the 4th loop, I ran probably close to 5 minutes between walks. This was mostly to keep the walks spread out evenly, since I didn’t want to be left with a longer run right before I got back to the car and have to choose between just running the whole way or putting in a walk followed by a very short run. After that, I felt pretty good because I knew I’d make it to 10 miles. My last loop was a little bit shorter because I didn’t quite have 2 miles to go. I actually finished at faster than an 11:00/mile pace, too, which wasn’t too bad considering the fact that it was 83 degrees when I finished and also that I had done all that walking.
This run left me feeling pretty good about my prospects for the race in two weeks. It certainly won’t be my fastest (in fact, it will probably be my slowest), but it at least gives me hope about being able to finish the race in a reasonable time. It also taught me about the value of good planned walking. In the past, whenever I’ve had to walk during my runs, I’ve basically waited until I was out of gas to start walking. While those walks might help for a short period of time, by the time you’ve waited for your body to reach exhaustion, there’s really no way to recover. If not for the Gallowalking, I don’t think I would have made it to 10 miles today. I probably would have made it back to my car at around 8 miles and just decided I was done.
I’ll probably use a similar strategy for the half marathon in two weeks. I’ll take extended walks through the water stops during the beginning and maybe put in the odd 1 minute walk. By the time I get close to the end, I’ll start to go into Gallowalking mode and doing frequent, planned walks which will become more and more frequent as I get near the end. The key will be deciding when I need to switch into this mode. If I do it too late, I risk wearing myself out and having a miserable finish. If I do it too early, then I just waste a lot of time walking when I don’t really need it. I think somewhere around 7-8 miles will be the correct time to switch, but I’ll play it a little bit by ear on race day. I feel like this would make a good strategy in the fall, too, for when I’m trying to stretch out my runs. Rather than just trying to run further, I could, say, jump from 9 miles of all running to 11-12 miles where the last 4-5 miles is all Gallowalking. Then, I can lengthen the runs at the beginning until I can run the whole way. Since I’ve been forced to walk frequently at the end of my races anyway, this will also make good preparation for my future halves.