Training has begun! I am 2.5 weeks into my Half Marathon training and it is going as well as could be expected. The initial challenges to beginning a new style and focus of workouts is to adjust your schedule and change up your habits to fit in new workouts. The game plan going into training was to run 3-4 x week, HIIT training 1-2 x week, and yoga daily. I have maintained running 2-3 x week, HIIT 1 x week, and yoga intermittently with some addition foam rolling after runs. I have some work to do.

WARNING: Physical Therapist Soapbox Moment – technique is paramount to distance, speed, and…everything. If you do not have good technique OR “mechanics” while running, any discomforts will continue to worsen as you progress training.

I have a long history of pain during running so you can bet I have some poor mechanics related to pain avoidance on top of control issues that never fully resolved after surgeries and injuries. This has been my focus in the early stages of training. I was able to have my co-workers look at my movement and suggest adjustments to my mechanics that would increase my control and decrease the pain in my ankle and hip generated from poor mechanics. I focus on these new areas during my runs and have a “check in” system to see how well I am maintaining my new control technique as I run farther, faster, or with changes in terrain/routes.

My recovery/medium length runs have been ~3-4 miles, easy pace, focused on control with small challenges of gentle inclines. These have gone quite well with my most difficult portion of maintaining technique occurs during inclines. I have performed one interval run at 2 miles with 1/8th mile sprint/recover. This was difficult to control at first but I was able to improve my technique with a slightly slower sprint and increased focus on my area of control. I have also performed one long distance, easy paced run for 6 miles with another planned this week. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maintain my technique for the majority of this run with more difficultly when I came across inclines or steps. This was exciting because I have past problems getting further than 4 miles without pain. I wont say it was completely pain-free but much better than prior attempts.

Overall a good start. The first few weeks of training sheds light on our strengths and weaknesses as well as establishing a routine. One of my goals is to finish the half marathon under a faster pace than my current long run. Therefore, my areas of weakness discovered from the past few weeks of runs are also areas I need to improve on in order to reach my goal.

Plans for training adjustments:

  • Increase run frequency to 3-4 x week: Medium easy/recovery run, Short run with interval/sprints,  Stairs/Hill training, Long distance easy run with tacking change of my average pace.
  • Establish an easy pace and a moderate/tempo pace for more effective training.
  • Commit to hill and stair training to improve my control and strength and my weakness areas.
  • Supplement my HIIT training with focus on single leg control with increased weight or increased range – I.E. step ups, pistol/single leg squats, TRX assisted leg clocks, and resistance band work for glutes. Additional focus on single leg balance control.

That’s the latest update! Follow the series on the Mobilize Physical Therapy Blog or Instagram.

Shawnee Perkins PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist at Mobilize Physical Therapy in Seattle, Washington