Half Marathon Training (Didn’t I Just Do This?)

It’s hard to believe, but the first day of my training plan for the Go! St. Louis half marathon is this Sunday.

I’m feeling a lot of feelings, but the most prominent one is fear. I feel exactly like I did in high school the night before a test on a subject I hadn’t paid attention to, and frantically read the entire chapter the night before. In high school that worked for me but last minute preparations don’t work for endurance sports.

That’s the amount of running I’ve done this year–three runs. One test run in December. And this week is the first week I’ve run more than once per week since October.

I’m going a bit nuts trying to determine if I’m healthy enough to keep running. I have no prior experience with stress fractures to fall back on to figure out what is normal for me. Dr. Halstead told me soreness as activity is increased is to be expected, but I shouldn’t experience soreness during a run after I’ve warmed up. In each run I either have had no pain or it goes away after four or so minutes. That evidence makes me think I am healthy enough to keep running.

I’ve been on the treadmill lately because outside looks like this:

The weather has kept some of the New Year’s resolution crowd away from the gym. I fully support other people getting fit but I really hate to wait for treadmills. The good news is I haven’t had to.


There are also some things happening that make me question if I should skip the treadmill and hop on the stationary bike. The days after a run I am sore on the spot of the stress fracture. Sometimes I am sore when I walk, sometimes not. The spot of my stress fracture is sore to the touch, as it was during my follow up appointment last month, which didn’t alarm the doctor. However during that appointment I hopped on my right leg and felt no pain, now when I do it sometimes I do feel pain. Is that normal or not? I don’t know. Dr. Halstead said I could call if the pain becomes more regular rather than intermittent. At this point I’m not sure if it’s regular enough to warrant a call. I find myself at a loss for words when trying to explain the pain, anyway. Pain seems too strong of a word; pressure is more accurate. But I’d really hoped to feel nothing in the leg by the time I began half marathon training.

Speaking of training, I’d planned to follow this Intermediate Training Plan from Big River Running. Even though I’m coming off an injury this is my fifth half marathon and I’d like to finish under 2:15 as I have in the previous four. That said, I am not prepared to run the six miles the Training Team is running this Sunday at Forest Park. So I’ll have to see these guys (plus a lot more–the training team is huge) a little later, once I’ve worked up to longer distances.


Besides, it’s cold and wet outside and I’m comfortable running 6 miles or less by myself on the treadmill and I don’t need to do it at 7am. I’m going to try for 4 miles on Sunday. If that goes well, 5 next Sunday. I’m still not sure what mileage I’m going to do during the week early on. I realized today working up to longer distances is only part of the equation–I’m not used to a lot of miles per week in total, either. Increasing too many variables at once likely contributed to my stress fracture so I’m not about to do it again. Instead I will do what I can, completely guided by how my leg feels. With more evidence I’ll have a better idea if the pain is getting better or if I need to back off totally, figure out a way to describe what I’m experiencing, and call Dr. Halstead.

I’m comforted by the fact my breathing has been really good during my recent runs; I feel like I’ve quickly gotten close to how running used to feel when I was doing it frequently. So even if I have to back off, I think I can catch up later in training. Also, during my last training cycle I remember feeling prepared to run 13.1 miles after a really short period of time, maybe a month. And in week 1 of my training last August I cranked out 9 surprise miles during one of the greatest runs of my life. So these are positive reminders that potential setbacks don’t mean I’m done. I’m even open to the possibility of intentionally walking parts of my half marathon, something I was really angry with myself for doing last April. After all, this is meant to be fun, not torture. I don’t want to end up like this girl.

I’m on the left in black and to my right is a girl puking her guts out. I paid for this photo. (It was included with others that don’t involve bodily functions.)


6 responses to “Half Marathon Training (Didn’t I Just Do This?)

  1. Good luck with the training! I’m no expert in recovering from injury (touch wood!!!), but I think it’s better to err on the side of caution. Having pain while walking doesn’t sound like a good sign to me! It’s probably best to start easing into the running very slowly and cross train a lot, especially in the beginning. You’ll get your cardio fitness up and give your legs a chance to slowly toughen up for the pounding you plan on inflicting upon them. It’s just one race – think about it, if you take it easy, the worst case would be that you run/walk an incredibly slow half marathon with a huge smile on your face and no pain in your legs. If you rush in, the worst case is that you’ll be off running again for weeks and weeks and won’t even make it to the startline. 😉 Best of luck, I’m looking forward to hearing about how you get on.

    • This is basically what I’ve been thinking but it’s nice to hear someone else say it! I think I’ll rework my plan to replace runs with other activity. Thanks!

  2. Oh wow that picture is pretty amazing…poor girl though!

    Are you running full speed or are you run/walking? When I started running again after my injury (keeping in mind I never confirmed a stress fracture!) I started immediately training for a race too. I kept my speed slower, and during most runs I made myself walk for about a minute every mile-even when I didn’t feel tired. I had discomfort when I first started running again, then it eventually went away. I’m not a sports doc, but this method kept me from over-doing the training. And I was still able to PR on race day which was nice 🙂

    Not sure if this helps at all, but good luck!

    • I’m just running, but your method sounds pretty smart. I’m going a little slower than I would have before but even so it makes sense to mix in walking until I’m sure my leg can bear the intensity of continuous running. I like the idea of doing that regardless of feeling tired.

  3. Good luck, Nora! Remember “slow and steady…” and listen to your body! xoxo

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