My lovely friend Becky has recently completed her first half marathon in 2020 and has a new found love of trail running. Here she shares her experiences of training for her first half, and how it went!
What inspired / motivated you to train for a half marathon?
I completed couch to 5k, did my first parkrun and then trained up to 10k. I lose my way a little bit if I don’t have a training plan; I’m not really sure what to do. And then a friend (who ran London marathon years ago), suggested doing the Coventry half-marathon, which is where I live, and it felt like the next logical (terrifying) step!
How did you get started with training? What plan did you use?
I googled. A lot. Scrapped all of the plans that referred to tempo, or running at 5k place, because I didn’t understand what they meant and I wanted something simple. Also wanted one that worked on mileage rather than time, because quite frankly, running for 90 minutes wasn’t going to get me anywhere near to a half-marathon. I think the one I went for was from the runners world website.
quite frankly, running for 90 minutes wasn’t going to get me anywhere near to a half-marathon
Now you have more experience of longer distances, would you change anything about that training block?
Yes. Other training plans I’ve used since have included different types of runs, like interval training, and that’s definitely mixed things up. And it’s fun to go really fast knowing you don’t have to sustain it for long!
So, how did the first half marathon go?
Not as expected! I’d planned my first half-marathon to be the Coventry half (where I live), and after starting the training plan in earnest in January, with the race planned for 5th April, the wheels came off in March with covid! Running doesn’t come naturally to me, and I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination, so as my long runs increased, I was running for hours a week. The day before I was due to do my longest run of the plan (10 miles), the Coventry half got canceled.
It wasn’t a surprise, but I was still gutted as there was only about three weeks to go at this point. I kept on running, but my heart wasn’t in it and my distances decreased again dramatically. I did various virtuals over the Spring and early Summer, including London Landmarks 10k, Big Bear 10k and Summer of CMTR, and then I signed up to run with Kaz for the first time at Big Bear in September 2020.
I’d had some donations in for Myton hospice when I told people I was going the half marathon, so with no certainty on when the Coventry half would happen I decided I needed to do it anyway, and Big Bear was the way to go, so the training started up again, ready for 23rd September…
Is there anything better than a race where you can stop for snacks every 5km? I don’t think so! It definitely helped break it up. I found it harder than I thought I would, there was a lot more walking than I had planned, but I think I started off too fast. The feeling as I crossed the finish line was overwhelming… Immense pride at doing that distance, but also very emotional… I wasn’t sure whether I was going to cry or have a panic attack (while you were trying to take finish line pictures ).
It also felt so surrreal that so many weeks and months training all comes down to one morning.
Any tips for those taking on their first half?
Don’t be daunted by the distance… 13 miles/21km feels like a really long way, but if you can do 5k, 10k you can do this! It’s just about gradually increasing distance. I always worry about long runs, but realistically, what’s the worst that will happen – you need to walk a bit?
Thank you, Becky! You can follow Becky’s adventures @ beckys_food_and_fitness.