"New" Miles? – On Half Marathon Training

This time last year I was training for my first full marathon, and I wrote about conquering the “new miles” — i.e., setting new personal distance records by running farther than I ever had before. We all do this every time we train for a newer, longer race distance, and it’s one of my favorite things about the challenge of training.

One of my other favorite things, by the way, is the gorgeous scenery I run through in my new neighborhood. I hope you’ll indulge me and let me share a few random photos snapped on yesterday’s run — other than being taken while running, they don’t have much else to do with this post.


As much as I love the challenge, the last long-distance event I trained for was that full marathon I ran in December 2010. The knee problems that developed during the race had me off the roads for a month or so afterward, and the fear of injuries returning kept me dedicated to shorter-distance races and building my mileage back up very conservatively. Since the marathon, I’ve run a 10K in February and competed in a sprint triathlon last month, and that’s been…it.

(Wait, really? Yes, apparently that was it. Dang.)

I had wanted to do other 5K and 10K races, but none really came up when the timing was right. I did a few training runs with my friend Brunbec when she was training for her half marathon, which she ran in April. I believe the longest run I went on with her was about 7 miles, after which my hip flexor started acting up and I kept the distances shorter.

Cows Grazing

What this all means is this: in 2011, the longest distance I’ve run in a race was 6.2 miles, and the longest distance I’ve run at all was 7 miles. WEIRD, man, weird.

This is all about to change, though, as I am now rebuilding my longer-distance mileage in training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in Savannah, which I’ll be running with Brunbec in November. I am excited for a lot of reasons (we loved Savannah the last time we were there!), but mostly it feels great to be running long again. Is it wrong that I look forward to re-stocking my supply of Gu? To the patient application of Body Glide to all the spaces between my toes? To re-tweaking my superlong running playlist every two weeks? Because I am.

[257/365] Cows

I started out the half marathon training plan really slowly, with a weekly mileage total of about 7-8 miles, which was all I’d been able to sustain during tri training without aggravating my tight hip flexors. I’ll finally be hitting a total of a whopping 13.5 miles this week, the sixth week of the training plan. The entire plan will have me running a max of 21 miles in my peak week.

If that sounds low to you, it’s because it is low. My long Friday run started out at just 3 miles, and will reach a max of 12 miles two weeks before the race. With that 12-miler under my belt, I’ll surely be able to reach the distance on race day, and with the gradual mileage increases over the length of the program (plus weekly strength and yoga sessions), I should hopefully get there free from injury. Fingers crossed. (If you’re interested in the nitty gritty of training, by the way, feel free to follow my updates on DailyMile.)

Neighborhood Pond

I do wish I were able to run more distance right now so that I could incorporate an additional session each week, doing more fast miles, and working harder to meet my two-hour time goal. I have had my eye on a two-hour half marathon all year (well, a 1:59:59 half marathon, to be exact), but with this low-mileage plan, it’s hard to say if that’s a realistic goal for me right now. I feel confident in thinking I can match or just beat my current PR (2:07:07 set in October of last year), but I’m not sure how much speed I’ll be able to consistently hold down. I suppose I will just do my best and see if it’s in the cards on race day.

At any rate, time goals aside, it is fun to be running “new” miles again. I’m not setting any true new PDRs, as these distances are ones I’ve run plenty of times in the past — but I sure haven’t run them recently! I’ve got my first 7-miler coming up tomorrow morning, and with that I’ll be matching my longest distance of 2011 so far. The next week, I’ll reach for 8 miles and offically carve into my first new mile of the year. Oh, how sweet it will be! Wish me luck!

And tell me, if you will, what new miles (literal or figurative) have you run recently?


  1. Man, I hear you. I am just now — JUST NOW — getting back to the miles after my Ironman in Summer of 2010, or, as I like to call it, “well over a year ago.”

    And the miles are MUCH shorter, but I don’t care -it’s nice to get back to this part of myself — I’d missed the routine of it all, of how centered it made me feel in the rest of my day. It’s good to be back, albeit in a much shorter way.

    Also: DAMN your running route is pretty!!!!


    1. I agree, the routine of it is so nice. I am a morning runner for sure and it just makes me feel so accomplished to start my day off that way.


  2. Oh I know this feeling! Embarking on any training journey is so damn exciting and inspiring. Glad you have a specific even to train for that will challenge you. Also: gorgeous pictures!

    I ran some in the beginning of the year but when it started to hinder my weight loss I stopped focusing on that. Since I’m getting closer and closer to my weight loss goal, I’m thinking about ways to challenge myself with running again since I really did enjoy it. (It’s weird to even type that, but really the mental fortitude that running takes is something I’ve never found in any other form of exercise.) I’m contemplating putting together a relay team for the CIM at the end of the year, I’m running another 5K in November and I’d like to obliterate my time (we shall see) plus I’m just working on getting faster.

    Goals, man. (That was my best stoner voice) Gotta love them!


    1. Oh I bet you can definitely obliterate your time! One thing I noticed when I was losing weight was that every little bit I lost just made me naturally faster — I didn’t have to do much speed training back then to drop my pace down. Now that I am maintaining the same weight, I have to work a lot harder to get any faster at all.


  3. Love your running route! I’m in the same boat as you. I ran a half in April and hadn’t gone longer than five miles since. Just a few weeks ago I started building my mileage again and it feels really good to be running long. I didn’t realize how much I missed it! I’m running a half in early November and even though I’ve been getting back into it slowly, I’ve been doing speed work once a week and I appear to maybe, possibly, be getting faster? I hope! I would really love a new PR. šŸ™‚

    Love your photos as well! That running route looks gorgeous.


    1. We will have to be virtual November-Half training buddies! I am looking forward to the weather continuing to cool off and hopefully that’ll help me improve my pace. I just love fall running!


  4. Good luck with your training. I hope you’ll continue to keep your blog updated with running progress.
    I just ran my second half marathon on the same course as my first one and got a 4 second PR (both in 2:06:xx). I was shooting for under 2 hours but the stars did not align for me. I’m training for my first marathon so I’ve been running a lot of new miles recently. I will likely be running some new miles tomorrow as I attempt my first run over 16 miles!


    1. Thanks — and that is so exciting that you’re training for your first full marathon!! Way to kick ass and best of luck to you!


  5. Yes, I hear you on the “new” miles! After my half in March this year, I focused on yoga, and I was biking a lot to work. Then it just got so hot, and I started easing myself into a routine by using the treadmill at the gym. But now, NOW I’m excited to be running outside and running longer distances than I’ve run in months. It’s so refreshing and rewarding to be outside, moving by the strength in my own two legs. I love that about running.

    Good luck with your training šŸ™‚


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