looking down at a runner's shoes and gloves

Race Training for 2024

looking down at a runner's shoes and gloves

After I lost 50lbs in 2021, I ran a 5k to celebrate my fitness. Now that I’ve lost 100lbs, I planned to run a 10k. But I was enjoying running, so I’ve set my sights on a bigger goal: Amway Riverbank Run (RBR) 25K. Slightly longer than a half marathon. Here’s what I’m doing to prepare for my 2024 running plans.

Spring Half Marathon Training

Right now I am running through a half marathon training plan. I started this in November but managed to get an injury on Dec 1st that had me off my feet until after Christmas. I actually ran a 5K on New Year’s Day without really any training, so it wasn’t my fastest. But it was a celebration of my return from injury.

So I’ve got one race down. I’m planning two 5K races in March, one virtual and one in-person. I’ll use these as fitness checks, seeing how the training is going and also a way to further determine what my pace will be like during the RBR. I’m training mostly with slow long runs, so being able to check in with my race pace will help make adjustments along the way.

I’ve also got two 10k races scheduled, one in April and the other in the first week of May. The first one actually runs part of the RBR course so it’ll be interesting to get out there early. The second one is kind of a destination run: it’s during Holland Michigan’s Tulip Time festival, so we got a hotel downtown and I’ll tiptoe through the tulips for a little over 6 miles. Then back to the hotel with a jet tub πŸ˜„ this race is actually on my birthday so… happy birthday to me! I’m calling this one my “100lbs lost celebration race”.

Then in the second week of May, the Riverbank Run. This one actually has me a bit scared. It’s a long distance! To this point I’ve only ever run 6 miles at once. The RBR is 15.5 miles! But my training should get me there. At that point I will be determining my running future. Will I continue with the half marathon events, or cut down to just 5k and 10k? All depends on how much I enjoy the distance πŸ˜‰

Summer/Fall Training

After taking a bit of recovery from the RBR, I’ve got a couple 5Ks lined up in June, a 5K and a 10K in July, and then in August I will start training for the Grand Rapids Marathon in October, where I plan to run the half marathon. A 5K and a 10K in August, with a 10 mile race in September. My fall plan is a bit more up in the air since I’m not 100% sure what I’ll even be doing. But one of my goals is definitely to do the 10 mile race, because it’s sponsored by an organization I would like to get closer to: RunGR, my local runner’s group.

Another minor goal race is June 1st. In a previous life I was a traveling tech consultant and spent a lot of time at the Grand Rapids International Airport. This summer they’re hosting a 5K on the runway! That’s so cool I signed up right away. Trying to convince some friends who have a connection to the airport to join me, but we’ll see πŸ˜‰

Late summer is also a boom for 5K races, every small town in the area has one. In 2021 I ran the Greenville Danish Dash 5K which was my first ever race. This year I’d like to do it again if I can, but there’s also Mitchell’s Run in the town I used to live in and I always wanted to participate. We’ll see what happens, but I’m sure I could run a 5K every weekend in August, maybe even two per weekend. I’m drowning in choices!

In October, the GR Marathon closes the season. There may be a turkey trot and since I’m training through the winter right now, maybe a Christmas race. But October will kind of start the off-season for me, closing out my first year as a runner.

My Training Plan

Generically, I’m following a low heart rate plan with some speed days mixed in. The goal most days (~80% of my training miles) being run with a heart rate around 145bpm. On speed days I go up to 5k pace or half marathon goal pace.

I started on a Runner’s World beginner’s half marathon plan, running 3x per week. Sunday long run, Tuesday recovery, Thursday speed run. I ended up injured after my first speed run, which cause me to sit out basically the entire rest of the program. Very unhappy.

Right now I am following a beginner half marathon plan from Brooks that starts off 3-4x weekly and gets up to 6x. I don’t expect to make 100% of these runs, but it’s enough volume in the plan to allow me to move things around and skip days if I am tired or injured, knowing I’ll have another chance tomorrow.

My Gear

I’ll detail this more in another post (and hope I remember to link it here). But here’s a basic look at my winter cold weather gear in 2024:

  • Shoes – I swap between
    • ASICS Novablast 3 (long and easy runs)
    • On Cloudmonster (speed days and treadmill)
  • Top – since it’s winter, lots of cold gear
    • Under Armor ColdGear long sleeve compression shirt
    • Under Armor tech t-shirt
    • Running vest to keep my core warm
    • New Balance running gloves
    • Gaiter/Buff/neck wrap
  • Bottom
    • Under Armor ColdGear compression tights
    • Running shorts
    • Smartwool cold weather running socks
  • Accessories
    • Apple Watch Series 6 (getting due for an upgrade)
      • I track my workouts here but with an external HR monitor
    • Polar H9 heart rate monitor
      • Wrist HR monitors SUCK in the cold
      • Pairs with Apple Watch and tracks more accurately
    • Airpods Pro 2
      • Waterproof, stays in ears nicely, and transparency mode helps hear cars and other things
    • Fitly Soft Flask
      • This water bottle fits neatly into the pocket of my compression tights and shrinks as it gets emptier
    • Spibelt running belt
      • For holding phone/keys/nutrition
    • Body Glide anti-chafe balm
    • GoPro Hero
      • Occasionally on longer runs I bring a camera for safety

I wear as bright of colors as possible, especially since it’s winter and a bit darker. I want everyone on the road to be able to see me clearly. Unfortunately a lot of running gear only comes in black but I get bright orange and neon yellow as much as I can.

More to come

I’m aiming for a long-haul on this one, so I’m sure there will be more πŸ™‚ But this is my 2024 plan here in January. Let’s see how far we can go!

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