The week that is

Today has very much been a day of writing (also of walking the dog and of looking up half-marathon training plans – but mostly writing). Between this morning’s blogging, getting my NaNoWriMo words in, emails, and now sorting out this week’s official blogging, I’ve definitely typed a lot more than I’ve actually spoken out loud today.

November is a very wordy time of year. I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo for about four years now (my profile says six, but I signed up and attempted nothing for the first two years). I completed the challenge in 2009 – which is also this laptop’s birthday and explains why it’s slowly but inevitably heading towards a meltdown. In 2010, 11 and 12 I started writing and then got sidetracked with other things like, um, sport, actually. Obviously. Now that I think about it.

So, this November, with that in mind, I am hammering away at a novel idea that, in a shocking departure from my usual ‘just wing it’ style, has a semblance of a plot outline, and I’ll also be attempting to fit in the first month of a half-marathon training plan. But this year, I feel as though I’ve trained for NaNoWriMo (see earlier entry comment about consistently blogging). And I think I can fit the first (and easiest) few weeks of training round it.

No, I'm not going all Murakami and write a novel about my running. This is a really good read, though, if that's what you're in the mood for...
No, I’m not going all Murakami and write a novel about my running. This is a really good read, though.

Yes, once again, I’ve signed up for a running event. Honestly, after this year, I’d been entirely burnt out on the sport front. After having to drop out of the half ironman, the buzz I usually get from events and having something to work towards took a major hit. I did the Hyde Park sprint, but I ditched pretty much all other events, because I just didn’t love it anymore.  I couldn’t be bothered to train and when I looked at 2014 I couldn’t begin to choose what I wanted to do.

But then my new tri buddy got a place in the London Marathon via Amnesty International (and he’ll be aiming for a Boston qualifying time) and when he was discussing his training plan, I got that little sport-talk thrill. And when he talked about needing a half-marathon to do, I pushed the idea of the Tunbridge Wells half, which has changed dates and start time in 2014 (which will make it more difficult to get to, actually) but is a brilliant race. And when he said he was signing up, I realised I wanted to, too. I’ve done the race twice. I improved significantly the second time. I want to do it again. So I signed up and did a bit of half-marathon training research and realised that, actually, I can’t wait to get going on this again.

I love winter running. I like running when the air is cold and crisp, and the ground is a bit squishy, or the rain is hitting you in the face until you can barely see. I love hooking up my run harness to my dog and dodging the tree roots and getting pulled through puddles. I’m possibly a bit unique in my love of this (by contrast, I really hate running in summer).

I think part of the enthusiasm is because I realised I’ve never trained specifically for a half marathon before. It’s a distance that I’ve run during training for something else (or after another race). I shaved ten minutes off my time for the Tunbridge Wells half this year because I  had been training for the half ironman – which obviously helped. But I think most triathletes would agree that training for a half ironman is not the same as training just for a half marathon. So I’m curious to see if I can PB again this time round.

Finding a plan was kind of a novelty. When I first started out doing tri, I followed a couch-to-5k running plan, had swimming lessons, and just pedalled the distance on the bike at the gym. For the marathon, I had a full training plan, but that was back in 2011. For the half ironman, I had a plan provided by TrainingPeaks, which had a coach attached who I could email with questions. It’s been a while since I looked up a plain running plan.

When I first googled ‘half marathon training plan’ google threw up quite a lot of ‘Women’s Running’ type training plans. I love sites that boost women in sport (check out Sport Sister for an example of one of the best ones out there) but I have limited tolerance for training plans that attempt to inspire runners with chirpy ‘advice’ like:

“Better still, our easy-to-follow 12-week training plan will also help you burn off at least 1,250 calories a week, and up to a very impressive 2,400 as your training heats up. Which means you could shed about 7lb through the 12 weeks of training, without even having to diet!”

(That’s a straight-up copy-and-paste from a women’s sport magazine’s website by, the way. No editing.)

Now, I started doing sport to get in shape, but I sort of feel as though by the time you get to doing a half marathon, you’re doing it for the love of the run rather than to lose weight. And when magazines start spouting about losing a possible 7lbs whilst training for 13 solid miles of running, it’s easy for readers lose track of the fact that you need to eat properly in order to run that distance at all. You need to replace those calories. Double annoying – this sort of shit doesn’t tend to show up in the unisex and men’s magazines.

Anyway, I signed up with Asics and have a training plan sorted out that is specific enough to have finishing time in mind, and which should fit around work and writing. The site also has charts and stats and counters and all the other things that I obsess about when training, which makes me a happy little bunny.

Right now I’m excited about both training for the half (not even the actual race – just the training) and writing my NaNo Novel. So let’s see how this month goes.

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