Sunday, November 6, 2011

Transition from Mid Distance to Half Marathon - Jason Holt

I had surgery on my Achilles tendon June of 2010 and it was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with in my life. Six months before the surgery I began having problems with it. I began cross training hoping my pain would go away so I could still compete but it never did. As I was preparing for this surgery I remember the doctor telling me that it should work but he had no idea if I would ever be able to compete at the level I was before. To me, that was a shot in the foot because I have been running since I was 12 years old. For the next year after my surgery I had to do rehab everyday for about an hour and I did it very diligently, not even knowing if I would ever be able to compete at the college level ever again.

In November of 2010 I started running again and it was one of the best feelings in the world to be out doing what I loved to do. By February when we had Indoor WAC championships I was able to take second and run a 1:53. As I crossed the line I was disappointed because I thought I had too much left in my kick, so I set the goal to be WAC outdoor Champ in 2011 track season. I completed that goal and went on to run a 1:48 three times in the outdoor season. One setback was that in the outdoor season I had to drop out of many workouts because of pain in my achilles tendon. I was still taping it so I would not feel as much pain as I did before. During the outdoor season because of the continued pain my miles were not more than 30 miles a week. I tried to run a few 1500 meter runs and I was able to compete for 1000 meters at a great pace but then would struggle the last 500 meters. The only bad thing about my past track season was that I was undefeated until the Regional meet. My coaches never took me to a large meet so I was not use to the faster competition and the different strategies that some runners had compared to my own.

As the track season ended I decided to take off time to get completely healthy and be able to run 100 percent healthy and not have to tape my Achilles as I did the entire track season. As I started to train again I decided to start at low miles as most runners do and then build up and eventually run half marathons. As I started running again with zero pain I became super excited and pumped to race again. I set the goal to run the Top of Utah half marathon which would give me about a month and a half of training; not a lot but enough to be able to race and feel good about it. Training was hard to get use to compared to track workouts and never having any runs over 7 miles. Now I was running long runs at 12 miles and doing tempo runs for 6 miles. My mile repeats were quick and hard to stick to as the rest was very short.

The night before the Top of Utah half marathon I got to bed around 11 and woke up about 4:45. When I woke up I was very nervous as I had never run one in my entire life. I knew I could run a decent time so I set the goal to be between 1:07 and 1:12. It was a large gap but I had no idea what to expect my time to be because I did not know how my body would react to the miles and the downhill. I took the energy gel in between miles 7 and 9 and it gave me the stamina to continue on at a good solid pace. I ended up finishing the race at a 1:08 and I was very proud of it but could definitely feel the soreness as I finished. A month later I ran the Layton half and it was flat and very cold but was still able to run a solid 1:12 by myself.

The transition from running the 800 meter in track to the half marathon was difficult but with a lot of motivation and determination it was possible. The miles were a shock at first but once I got use to running the longer distances I did not mind it that much. I ran cross country in college so it was not that much of a shock as I thought it would be. One of the hardest parts about the transition was that my coach wanted me to be running 6 minute miles every single day. To me that meant no day was an easy day, every day I had to push myself. At first I couldn’t even accomplish this but by the end of my marathon training my body got use to the pace and it became habit. The funny part was that even in college my runs were not that fast, usually only one day of the week.

I have finished my training for half marathons as I have completed two of them now and I am training for the 800 meters once again. My miles will stay around the same and I won’t start lowering my miles to peak until around April or so. My miles are around 40 or 45 and I will start doing more speed work instead of longer tempo runs like I have been doing in my marathon training. This last year I ran a 1:48 with no more than 30 miles a week and now that I am a 100 percent healthy I think I can improve my time by a substantial amount. This is the reason I am still racing and cannot give up on competitive racing. I feel that I have not yet reached my full potential in the 800 meters. Over the past few years I have became much smarter in racing tactics and my kick has improved tremendously that I think I can still run a personal best this upcoming track season. One of the most difficult things that I have seen in this transition is the mental challenge of pacing. I have to be in the mindset that I am running for a longer period of time at a slower pace rather than only having two laps on the track.

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