Monday, 13 March 2017

My Half Marathon Experience

So yesterday I completed my first ever official half marathon, and you know what, I'm pretty damn proud! As I touched on a few posts ago, I would never have dreamt I could run this distance - for me 3 miles was something I had to train really hard for so going out there and adding another 10 miles on is pretty insane for me.

Although I was a keen athlete when I was younger and loved cross country back in the day, the distances were never really more than 2.5 miles so a half marathon is completely on another level. Although running (sprinting more so) will always have a special place in my heart, I wouldn't say it's my passion these days, however I do love the sense of accomplishment once I've finished a run and think it's a great way to get outdoors and always works for a great cardio session.

As with many other sports and forms of training, I always think something is impossible until its done and it is so true that the mind gives up before the body. Throughout a distance run, I constantly have to give my self a pep talk to make myself keep going. It's not even that I'm not capable of continuing but sometimes I just want to stop, but just cause I want to stop it doesn't mean I do! I love the quote by Mohammed Ali when asked how many sit ups he does - 'I don't count my sit ups, I only count when it starts hurting, when I feel pain that's when I start counting because that's when it really counts' - I feel this quote can be adopted to many forms of training and is such an incentive to continue.

So, on the day of the race due to health and safety you weren't allowed to wear headphones, which initially for me put a complete dampener on the whole thing - as silly as it sounds because I love listening to music when exercising, as mentioned in my previous posts. However, it suddenly occurred to me that I never really listen to music when out on a run because I'm either with my PT or my friend Charlotte. Its only when I'm at the gym I have my music on. So the prospect of essentially being bored for a few hours bothered me for a while but luckily my running partner signed up to the same race as me and we got to run together which was great because the time went quicker and we pushed each other! I finished in a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 14 seconds which I am super happy about.

If you're contemplating signing up to a half marathon, I'd just say go ahead and do it, what have you got to lose? I can't express enough though how important it is to train beforehand. I've known people in the past sign up to these events and panic 4 weeks before because they have done absolutely no preparation. I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing because I knew I had put the work in before hand. Trust me a half marathon is a long way! I feel  I even underestimated just how far the 13.1 miles was, because on the day I seriously struggled and think  I let my anxiety get the best of me. Had it just been a normal day and a training run I'd have probably felt great - it's strange how the mind works. Anyway it turns out I still kept a great consistent pace throughout but I was definitely feeling it and was so so tired at the end! I somehow managed to go all out at the end and sprint but as soon as I crossed the finish line I just sat on a curb. When my family came over to congratulate me and say how proud they were I just burst into tears and felt really emotional but I think it's just because it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

If you think a half marathon is something you'd like to do  I'd say the best thing to do is to sign up to smaller runs first such as 5 & 10km's and get a good pace at that first instead of diving straight in with a marathon. You might find shorter runs are your jam or you may find you love running longer distances, but until you start how will you ever know? Personally, I signed up to this mainly as training for another event later in the year but also because just to say that in my life I have completed a half marathon. I kind of figured that I don't think I'd ever fancy doing a full marathon as it's not for me, but never say never!

Fueling your body before a race is crucial also. My body works best on a bowl of porridge with protein and usually some protein powder thrown in there.I have to eat at last 2 hours before a race because there is nothing worse than a full stomach! However, you need to ensure what you are putting into your body is going to benefit you. I unfortunately had to turn down going out for a meal the night before my run because I knew nutrition had to be on point for me to perform my best.

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