As you can expect I’m feeling pretty chuffed (and puffed…Ha!) and very proud of myself. Rightly so you might say, “that’s a long way to run!” Yes, it is. A half marathon is 21.1 km, 13.1 miles or 83 laps around a running track.
Funnily enough, on reflection what I am most proud of isn’t the numbers and the end result. Well a little bit proud, okay a lot. But I feel most proud of the effort, dedication, preparation and training I put in for 12 weeks before the actual event.
I followed a program. A proper “run this length today, run that length tomorrow” type of program. I now realize that without the program me finishing a half marathon would have never happened. (Well duh…!)
For me a big factor was the mental barrier of running for two hours, if not longer. That’s double the length of time that I’d ever run previously. We all know a program helps to gradually improve you physically so your body can manage running 21.1 kilometers. But what about the old mental barrier..? That little guy in your head saying “What? You want to run how far? I’d rather stick a fork in my eye! It’ll hurt less.” – yes, he’s pretty dramatic.
Great news! I found following a structured program helped me to prepare mentally. I could look at my whole program and know from the beginning when I would be upping the ante and really starting to log the kilometers. I could see at what point distances I had never tried before would start appearing in the program (the first one being 14.5km). I could also see that those ‘long’ runs should not seem quite so long.
Running a distance you’ve not completed before can be daunting. Knowing when it’s coming, knowing you can run at least a few kilometers less than expected and knowing how it will feel certainly helps. For example, prior to doing my 16km long run I had completed 14.5km. What’s another 1.5km…? Pppfffh, nothing! Let’s do it!!!
I followed the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Novice 1 program. I made up a note sheet which I filled in after each run. This helped me to track my progress and stay motivated. Another motivational tool was an app on my phone which helped me to track my distances and pace. I use Runtastic Pro. It’s excellent. You can try the free version and if you like it then I highly recommend upgrading to the full version. Oh and it’s not just for running either, walking, hiking, biking, weights…plenty of activities to chose from.
Another piece of gear that I can’t recommend highly enough is…actually there’s 2…
Firstly, if you’re considering committing to any kind of long distance running training (whether your long distance is 5km or 42km) a hydration belt is a fantastic investment. A hydration belt for those who are unfamiliar is a belt worn around your waist that carries water bottles. They can also carry your phone, keys, money, snacks or your pet cat. Okay maybe not your pet cat. This was a wonderful, wonderful thing when I was training at home (Australia) in summer. You need water. End of story.
Second. My Road ID. A lifesaving (literally) addition to my workout gear. Actually, it’s more of a general addition because it isn’t just for runners. It’s for everyone. Road ID is an easy and affordable way to have identification on you at all times. You can read more about Road ID HERE.
So, at the end of the day (or more precisely 2 hours, 5 minutes and 49 seconds) I completed my first half marathon. Go me! I intend to do another one at some point in the future, because hey, I totally know what I’m in for now. Should be a piece of cake…right?
Mmmmm…cake…it’s ok, I earned it 🙂