Going the whole Half Marathon Distance

I went the distance! I know I can do it!

Three weeks to go until the 2018 Eden Half. This will be my first half marathon, since getting the running bug earlier this year.

It’s amazing to have come this far, but having had a few conversations with various people recently I’ve been doing a little reading, and a lot of thinking too.

I do think the real achievement is in getting from 0 – 5k. I’m not trying to minimise my current (amazing) achievement and I will get to that….but getting over that first 5k hurdle was such a toughie. It’s easy to see why people get put off, and never get to the fabled runner’s high.

  • At the 0 – 5k point it was hard going, and without the sound knowledge you can run, there is no confidence you can fall back on, no actual evidence that it is possible.
  • At that time perhaps you also have no favoured pace you know you can hold while recovering from a hill/getting breathing rate or heart rate back under control, to fall back on.
  • I read that our optimum muscle temperature for running is a degree higher than the 37° of normal body temperature. It takes a while to get up to 38° and be properly ready to maintain a work rate and perhaps that’s a factor too, particularly in light of the two previous points.
  • There’s also the breathlessness. It passes (it really does). The beginning of a run is the worst bit for breathlessness. I think that the reason for this is the body needing to catch up and realise that you are working hard running and need more oxygen. By 4-6km the oxygen debt is repaid so it feels easier.

Getting to 5km really is a huge deal, particularly if you’re not aware of the above.

So racking up the extra kilometres from 5 – 21 wasn’t exactly easy either, but some of the factors above still apply, like confidence, knowing it is possible to continue to 21k and beyond. My confidence has come through building up slowly, increasing the long run each week by about 1.5k a time and really sticking as much as possible to my training plan and recording training sessions on my pizza box.

I now know a little about oxygen debt and optimum temperature for the body to work at, and am able to recognise the effects from my own experience. It helps to know that the breathlessness will pass, particularly.

Overall, it will be huge to just get to the finish line uninjured.

I used a race time calculator which suggested a goal time of 2hr 30 – 45 mins might be something to aim for, and my efforts at tempo running have been with this pace in mind, ie. the tempo pace was 25 – 30 seconds faster per minute than my expected race pace (note ‘expected’ rather than goal pace – I thought 2hr 30 was rather wishful thinking).

I was trying to be realistic, but I’ve found I actually ran my whole 21k long run at around my expected tempo pace, but that is a problem. Because tempo pace is pushing at the lactate threshold with a view to increasing the ability of the body to clear lactate from muscles and improve endurance – logic states that it couldn’t have been my real tempo pace.

So the first adjustment is clearly going to have to involve racking up the tempo pace. What an unwelcome prospect that is.

I have found that keeping my watch on to show my pace (ie. the number of minutes and seconds it will take to run a kilometre given current speed) together with a reading for distance already completed is really helpful too.

I can see an immediate change in pace from minimal extra effort down the leggies. Little bit of a reward on the wrist. Nice.

I’m also wondering whether I should aim a little higher on the overall timing front too, maybe try to shave a few minutes off?

Trouble is that I’ve never done this before, so getting all tight about times just isn’t necessary. I want to finish in one piece. That’s it. But…

There isn’t much time either. I don’t expect to get reliably faster in three weeks so maybe realistic improvements are in endurance, and in comfort over the last kilometres. I suffered in the last two but #19 was up a nasty ole hill; I’d just stopped for a loo break (in a real loo I should add) at the bottom and seized up a bit too. Still…

I know I have a belief that I’m extremely slow. It is slowly being challenged by the evidence as my splits come down from 7m range to the 6m range (just), but I’ll be near the back, I’ve little doubt, and that’s if things go well.

So I’m back to the plan for crossing that line uninjured, which is a good plan (but maybe, just maybe…)

If you’d like more info on the route, click here

Up next

I’m feeling a couple more posts coming on – did I mention my new trainers? This follows on from the last – nevertoberepeated trainer buying experience!

Also some race day worries beyond ‘WTF am I doing?’ Watch this space…