Back in January I applied for a place in the Leeds Half Marathon with Alzheimer’s Research UK. Having run the race before I purely wanted to go a little bit faster and to raise a load of money for a charity close to my heart. But I did better than I could have ever imagined…
The Leeds Half Marathon has been going almost as long as I’ve been alive, however, it wasn’t until I first ran it in 2014 that I really took an interest in it. Back then I prepared by doing a few miles on the treadmill now and again, that was pretty much it.
My finish time was 2:59:54 that year and I was ecstatic to finish in under three hours, although I didn’t really set myself any targets so I would have been happy to just finish.
This year was a little different for me, I wanted to go faster and set myself a target of around 2:40. So I trained my little heart out and managed to beat my previous time by 28 minutes! Better than I could have ever imagined. Yes my hamstrings started to tighten up about mile 7 after the climb from Moor Allerton to Weetwood, yes my feet started to go a little numb around mile 10 and yes the last 100 yards were literally an uphill struggle.
But I loved every minute of it. It was hot, sweaty and amazing. So far I have raised £450 for Alzheimer’s Research, to try and prevent other families from going through the same heartache that both mine and many others have to go through as they watch loved ones disappear.
I feel like I totally smashed it this year with my preparation & training and so hear are my top 5 tips if you’re taking on 13.1 miles of your local town or city this year…
PLAN AHEAD … If you are planning on taking on a Half Marathon I would aim to get signed up as far in advance as you can and try to start training at least 12 weeks before the event. This gives you plenty of time to start racking up the miles and gain confidence. MapMyRun have a fantastic training app that will help you to work on your pace & stamina that I found invaluable in the run up to the big day.
LOAD UP … It is so important to fuel your body correctly for the big day and I found that by steadily increasing my portion sizes in the run up to the race and by having my main meal mid-afternoon the day before as opposed to in the evening, really helped to get my body fired up. Although it is called ‘carb loading’ don’t forget to take that all important protein on board too!
RELAX … Don’t do too much in the week before, but don’t become a sofa bear either! In the run up to the big day I did a few short running sessions (a 30 minute jog and an interval based one) and made sure that I kept moving my attending spin (albeit taking it much easier than normal) and Yoga/ Pilates. You don’t want to stress your body out by overdoing it but you also don’t want to shock it by doing nothing either.
RISE EARLY … If your race is in the morning you might need to get up a little earlier than you might normally. Aim to have breakfast 2-3 hours before the start and have something ‘safe’ as opposed to something new that you think will fuel you better. Race day is not the day to try something new. Safe for me is cereal with Honey & Almond Milk and a toasted white Bagel with Marmite on. I also have a coffee and an Isotonic drink rather than water as it contains extra carbs! I then have an Isotonic Gel about 30 minutes before the start and then a few throughout the race too to keep my body fired up!
Remember fueling your body doesn’t go on hold just because you’re running, take energy gels with you as well as water to stay hydrated. The trick is to try and second guess your body and take these on board before your body really needs them.
ENJOY IT … Above all else enjoy it. Get to the start line early, soak up the atmosphere and meet your fellow runners, I can guarantee they will all feel just as nervous/ apprehensive as you do. Interact with the crowds as you go around the course, hi-five anyone and everyone that offers you one and if there’s a generous resident with a hosepipe willing to cool you off – run through it!
I cried my eyes out when I crossed the finish line, a mixture of pure relief and immense pride! But I made sure that I enjoyed a nice cold drink with my fellow runners after Mr D came to meet me!
I won’t lie, yesterday was hard and I ached like a bitch, seriously the DOMS were real but today is a little easier and I’m aiming to get back in the gym tonight. Recovery for me is all about doing things at your own pace, keeping moving and nice long baths in Epsom Salts. Last time out I said never again when it came to distance running, but I can’t wait to take the course on again next year and next year I’ll be aiming to get sub 2:30:00.
Time to get training.
Are you taking on any challenges this year? Let me know below and I’ll catch up with you again soon, until then though x
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