Changes I’m Making to Achieve My Running Goals in 2018

Changes I'm Making to Achieve My Running Goals in 2018

I shared at the end of last year that one of my big goals for 2018 is running a sub-1:35 half marathon. I have not placed an exact timeline on that goal because running does not work that way – sometimes you made large steps, other times you chip away in small increments.

I’m signed up for the Snohomish Women’s Half Marathon in early May. I ran the 10K last year and really enjoyed the course, which is flat and scenic. Snohomish Running Company puts on fantastic events – well-organized, great spectator support, and really awesome swag. I’m hoping to swing a PR here, so my training starts in mid-February (an 11 week cycle, since 12 weeks falls during the week of Ash Wednesday and our ski trip to Bend).

Every big goal requires several small goals to build up to it. You can’t make giant leaps and bounds; you have to build a staircase and take small but steady steps up. These small steps include the training runs, but the contribution of the ancillary things such as nutrition and strength/mobility cannot be underplayed. These are a few of the small changes I am making to my training in 2018 to help me improve the little things as I train for a half marathon PR. 

Changes I'm Making to Achieve My Running Goals in 2018

Whole Foods on Long Runs

I still will use gels for races, since gels are the easiest for me to carry and eat at race effort, and for gut training during the peak long runs of race training. But race day nutrition is different than training nutrition. While quickly delivered energy in low-volume easy-to-eat form is best for an all-out effort, whole foods provide a good option for those easy to moderate paced long runs.

Small Changes I am Making to Achieve Running Goals in 2018

I used to prefer only gels, but I’m shifting toward using gels only for racing. My palate fatigues easily on gels, while whole foods provide more novelty and variety. I find that I run best and feel best when there’s a tiny bit of fat in my mid-run fuel (my new go-to gel of choice is the Hammer Chocolate-Hazelnut, which has 20% of the calories from fat and provided an awesome boost during the final miles of California International Marathon). Whole foods let me easily eat more calories from fat on the run without fatiguing on a couple flavors of gels. 

One of the many books I got for Christmas is Rocket Fuel and the recipes in it are enticing: maple banana chips, waffle bites, and granola bites, along with recipes for gels made with fruit and maple syrup. I am easing into the whole food fueling with Honey Stinger waffles, which have a good percentage of carbs and fat. I broke one into pieces for this weekend’s 10 mile run (I was hungry at the start of the run, so I opted to fuel), ate about two-thirds of it, and felt great on the run.

 After reading ROAR, I realized that I do need some carbohydrates in my sports drink to aid in sodium absorption – especially since I’ve had a problem with dehydration and electrolyte imbalance before. I enjoy Enduropacks for before and after a run, but during I want to experiment with this in my training (especially since most races provide Nuun). I’ve had good luck with taking Nuun at races, especially at CIM this year when they offered Nuun Performance. My plan is to take Nuun Performance on long runs to help with hydration and fueling. 

Improve Shoulder and Hip Mobility

While I am not a believer in an ideal running form, I know that poor shoulder mobility can impair one’s unique optimum form. When I fatigue in a race or workout, I swing my arms in front of my torso (see: the end of the CIM last year). I deal with tightness in my shoulders and upper back after a hard or long run.

Before I can even tackle more upper body strength, I need to improve my mobility through targeted stretching, mobility exercises, and self-release. Jonathan Beverly’s Your Best Stride has been a helpful resource in determining the best course of action for improving my shoulder mobility.

For hip mobility, I want to incorporate more Pilates and targeted stretching into my routine. My hips aren’t as immobile as my shoulders, but there is certainly room for improvement.

Small Changes I am Making to Achieve Running Goals in 2018

Eat More Protein

I have a tendency to reach for carbs and fats, especially at breakfast and lunch. I know I should be eating more protein, but there’s a gap between what I know I should be doing and what I choose to eat. I can easily eat all my fruits and vegetables, but for some reason, my protein intake can be lower than optimal, especially for my running goals.  

Small Changes I am Making to Achieve Running Goals in 2018

I made it a goal this year to eat more protein at breakfast and lunch, especially after hard workouts. Eggs, nut butter, beans, and quinoa are my go-to lunch options, along with meat if we have leftovers. I’m also aiming to eat some Greek yogurt within 30 minutes of strength workouts or hard runs, rather than waiting an hour or more until I cool down, stretch, and cook.

[Tweet “When training for a PR, the small things matter – here are the changes @thisrunrecipes is making to help run a #halfmarathon PR this spring. #runchat #running”]

What small things are you working on to help you achieve your goals?
Do you fuel with whole foods on long runs? What do you eat?

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12 Responses

  1. This sounds like a great plan. I started reading “Roar” when I was traveling earlier this week and it’s really interesting. I also need to focus on taking in more protein right after I work out. I love Honey Stinger Waffles but haven’t tried eating them on a run. I think they would work well, especially since I just haven’t wanted gels lately and have therefore been avoiding mid-run fuel all together.

    1. The Honey Stingers work really well – they aren’t hard to chew at all and are easy to break up. I don’t think I could easily eat them during a race, but for most training runs they taste far better than gels. You should try them!

  2. Yes to carbs in your bottle! May I suggest Skratch Labs? I use it and it’s not sweet at all and I’ve trained really well with it. I also took Sims advice on drinking Osmo post-workout, with some Almond milk and it’s delicious (I have the honey flavor) and filling.
    I’m sure you will crush this goal since I know you will make all of these changes happen!! It’s yours for the taking my friend…

    1. Allie – which Skratch Labs product to you use? I have not looked at many, but I do have a couple single serve packs to try of their “hydration mix”. I am looking to start testing out some products to figure out what works best/well for me with my next marathon training cycle.

  3. Great goals! I am training for my first full and have been fueling with Picky Bars on my long runs. I absolutely love them. They are 4:1 carbs to fat ratio, easy to eat, and super easy on my tummy. I can’t recommend them enough.

    Also a friendly PSA: The Saucony Freedom ISOs are $112 at JackRabbit this week, and you can earn $20 credit there if you sign up for their rewards program. (I have zero affiliation with them!) Stocked up on a pair for me and one for my husband 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your food goals. This inspires me to get back on (a focused) track; especially when it comes to pre-run nutrition. Oftentimes it is planning. As we have recently discussed, eating well/healthy can be a time suck in the beginning, however I find once you create a strong foundation it all becomes automatic. Focus, focus, focus (<– me talking to myself)….

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