This weekend, I ran the Revel Big Bear half marathon. I knew going into it, it was going to be a race unlike any I had run. There is a massive downhill, 3171 feet to be exact, with almost no incline. So I knew my training had to look a little different than normal.
While I’m still collecting my thoughts from race day for a full race recap, I wanted to share what my training looked like. It was a great race for me. I PR’d by almost 10 minutes and felt really strong for most of the race and it was due to a great training cycle.
Weekly Half Marathon Training Schedule
Due to my work schedule, my weeks varied every other week. One week my training looked like:
Monday: easy miles + lower body strength
Tuesday: easy miles + upper body strength
Thursday: speed run + lower body strength
Friday: easy miles
Saturday: long run, all easy miles
The week after, I switched up the long run for a workout so it looked like
Monday: easy miles + upper body strength
Tuesday: speed run + lower body strength
Thursday: easy miles + upper body strength
Friday: easy miles
Saturday: long run with tempo miles
For this training cycle, I focused a lot more on strength than I usually would because I knew that was going to be such a big factor when it came to the pounding I knew my body was going to take on that decline.
I topped out at low 30’s for miles per week–I am not a runner who hits crazy high mileage, even in peak training for a goal race, and this worked really well for me.
I also made sure to include some long runs that had downhill in them so my body was used to it and I could get a feel for race pace on that downhill course. It was a bit of a challenge to find a downhill long enough, but I was able to find a decent option that amounted to 2 sections that were each about 3 miles long. On weeks I didn’t do that, I followed the advice of a fellow Revel-er that had run the race before and propped up my treadmill on a 2x4 for a nice and long 8 mile downhill portion at goal race pace. The tread downhill made for a nice compromise between the decline and the pounding of pavement. My knees, hips, and other joints never hurt, which I think is a testament to the strength training working.
The Strength Training
The strength training was an even bigger portion of this training cycle than it usually is. In peak training, I usually cut back strength training to 2 times a week, 30 minutes each. In this training cycle, I used the strength training program LIIFT More, which has 45 minute workouts and focuses on heavy lifting. I picked it because I knew the heavy lifting was going to help with this course.
Instead of the 5 days a week for 8 weeks that the program is scheduled for, I modified it to fit my run training plan. I only lifted 3 days a week and I would switch the order of the workouts as needed so I never lifted lower body the day before or after a long run or speed run. There are two lower body workouts per week, so sometimes I ended up with two of those but made sure to leave my body recovery time. (If you want to check out LIIFT More and running for your next race, fill out this form and I’ll reach out to get more info and send you a sample plan!)
What to Work On
If I were going to train for another Revel Race, there are a few things I would do differently to feel even stronger.
I need to work on my mental grit for those last miles. I felt so strong until mile 12 and then I fell off a bit mentally and had a hard time pushing. I need to include some more fast finishes to practice speeding up at the end when I’m tired rather than slowing down.
I was overscheduled in my work life and family life during this training cycle. In a perfect world, I would have scaled back as training ramped up so I could be really present in all my runs, which I struggled a bit with.
I need to commit to the long runs – with this training cycle and sick kids, I had to cut a few long runs short and I think that also impacted my strong finish. Next training cycle, I need to not cut off a mile of two at the end of long runs. It doesn’t seem like much when you’re months out from a race, but it definitely all adds up.
Final Revel Big Bear Training Wrap-up
Overall, I am incredibly happy with how this race turned out, due to the strong training cycle I had. I ran hundreds of miles and completed dozens of hours of strength training. There are always things we would change, like I listed above, but incredibly proud of this one.
Now, to celebrate and process the race a bit more!
While I’m still debating what my next running goals and races are (and forcing myself to celebrate this huge PR, something I struggle with) I do know what’s next while I take some time off training for a race. I’m going to jump into a new strength program called Healthy Obsession by Autumn Calabrese. It’s going to be less of that intense lifting I’ve been doing and more glutes, core, and all things coordination–something I can definitely use!
if you’re looking for something to do “next” while not training for a race, why not do Healthy Obsession with me??? It’s 3 weeks, 5 days a week, 60 minute strength workouts! The perfect post Thanksgiving challenge–and I’ll have a running combo schedule so you’re still only working out 5 days a week. Want to learn more? Fill out this form and I’ll send more info your way!