My determined plod towards the Birmingham Half Marathon continues and I definitely feel like I’ve levelled up! I have now completed the 5-10km training app I was using and I have really noticed a lot of progress in my running. The biggest change for me has been the increase in my confidence as a runner. For example, there were plenty of times during C25K when I would open my app as I left my house to run and ended up sighing and feeling doubtful at the programme in front of me (“run for 20 minutes non-stop?! I’ll never do that!” and so on). That all changed as I progressed through the 5-10km programme. I’d open the app, see that it wanted me to run for 45 minutes non-stop that day and I’d think “yeah, I can do that – bring it on!” and off I’d go. I wasn’t phased by the time spent running any more, as I’d proven to myself time and again that I can do it, that I’ve got it in me. I may not be fast or a natural runner but I’ve got the determination to do it. By the time the final run of the programme arrived – which was a 60 minute non-stop run – I was itching to get going, run for the longest I’d ever run non-stop in my entire life, and allow myself to feel proud for completing the programme.
So, on Saturday just gone, I got ready, drank my electrolytes, charged up my earphones, and got out there. It all went perfectly. No aching or pains anywhere. My breathing stayed nice and even. It was sunny but not hot. I ran my usual route listening to my running playlist and not even thinking about the fact that I would be running for an hour – I was enjoying doing it too much! I kept an eye on my running apps to monitor the distance I was reaching. Although I was able to run the requisite amount of time non-stop, I only reached 8.2km doing so. Pace is something that’s always been at the back of my mind – that I perhaps should work on getting a little faster – but I’ve paid attention to the advice given to me by experienced runners; to focus on distance first and then the pace will come along later.
I made a decision there and then – the hour of running was up but I hadn’t got to the magical 10km mark yet. I felt fine and more than able to continue running, so that’s what I did. I carried on running, determined to get to the 10km milestone. And I did it! I had to extend my running route a little to accommodate the extra distance and in doing so, I ran past the local playground that’s just down the road from my house. My two boys were at the playground with their friends, scooters in tow. They spotted me running and so, for about the last 500m of my run, they joined me on their scooters shouting “come on mum! You can do it!” It was a really wonderful moment to finally hit the 10km sweet spot – with a really good and positive run and my two boys scooting alongside me at the end of it.
Me at the end of my first ever 10km run – red, sweaty, and very happy.
Now the next phase begins. I’ve already downloaded my 21k training app and done my first run (it was 45 minutes non-stop, so I felt that I eased into it nicely). I feel like I’ve got my eye on the prize now as the app’s programme takes me up to the date of the Birmingham Half so it’s all finally leading up to the big day. I know that it will be challenging and I will have to dig into my reserves of determination but I’m not deterred by that – I’ve got through two running programmes so far, got over a minor injury and rest period, and when I started this journey, I couldn’t run for a bus. So I know I’ve got it in me.
On the left, my badge for starting the 12k programme: I’m a 21k Candidate! On the right, my first ever 10k run! I did a proud.
I also still feel that I need to look at my pace a little bit more now, but in a way that’s complementary to my training app that doesn’t put too much pressure on me. So I’ve joined a local running club. I was really unsure about this at first as one of the things I love most about running is the fact that I can do it on my own. Plus I’m really very socially awkward! However, it would be useful to have a gauge for my running and to be able to benefit from the experience of other runners as the half marathon draws closer. Luckily my local club was taking on new members as part of a C25K programme. When I explained that I had already done this, they allowed me to join a sub-group of new members who do a 20 minute non-stop run while the C25K run takes place. It was a really useful experience! They ran at a much faster pace than I usually do: MapMyRun measured the pace as a consistent 7:17 for each of the three KMs we ran. My usual pace is between 8:00 – 8:30, so this was quite a bit faster! I stayed at the back of the pack and made sure that even though I was keeping up, I wasn’t overdoing it. It wasn’t easy but I stayed with the pack, despite puffing and panting like an old steam train. It wasn’t the easiest 20 minute run I’ve ever done but I felt so much better for it. Especially when I went for a long run the next day and did the best pacing I’ve ever done (Strava recorded seven PBs for that run!), so I think that additional 20 minute faster paced run every Wednesday night will be a beneficial addition to my training. We shall see!
In conclusion then:
- always take on board the advice of experienced runners. They’ve been where you are and can share their insight.
- your mind set is a powerful training tool. When you see the run that’s planned for you, don’t be overwhelmed. Think back to where you were when you started and note how far you’ve come. Relish the opportunity to go even further.
- Get red, get sweaty, get puffing and panting – it’s all good! What you look like when you run is insignificant – it’s what you do when you run that counts!
- always be proud of every run, even if it hasn’t gone the way you wanted. You still got out there and did it! And there will be more of those feel good milestone runs to follow – be super proud of those!
Happy running! x