Last weekend I went to Stockholm. It was a lovely trip. I met some new friends, discovered the city and got to eat amazing food. Yet, when I came home I couldn't help but notice this sadness fell over me. That, regardless if this trip away doing me well, there was something wrong in general. I was missing something, a sense of achievement.
I needed to do something, but what?
I consider myself a fairly active person, I used to excersize a lot. It's not as much as a few years back, but still I know it is the thing that makes me feel good. So, on that moment I decided: ''let's run half a marathon.'' The idea, totally bananas, I agree. But I had set my mind to it, so it was going to happen.
The next day I woke up and the idea of running half a marathon was still lingering in my mind. I put on my active wear and made a promise to myself.
''Ok, if I am going to do this I need to set some goals, some things to cling onto.''
and these 3 goals were:
1. Have fun
( regardless of this idiotic idea, there is no pressure, no competition)
2. Control your breathing.
(Cause if you don't, the combination of your fatigued body and cramps will knock you out.
3. Keep up the same pace.
( Now this was hard since my competetive genes were constantly whispering in my ears to go faster, but I made it.)
To be completely honest with you, my preperations were really pushed to a minimum hehe. I had only drunk 3 glasses of water and had eaten an apple. I had absolutely no idea of where I was going to run to. I just knew I had set 21,5 km on my watch and I had to run until it made the ''Bleep'' sound.
Now, mentally I knew I shouldn't look at my watch until I had the feeling I was even remotely close to the end. Cause I knew otherwise I would get a mental breakdown that would get me like: ''shit, still so far''. So there I went, with regrets and high hopes, straight towards my goal, to be able to prove the point to myself I could do anything I set my mind to.
It didn't take long before my body confirmed the obvious, I was not used to running these long distances.
I normally run 5 km every now and then, because I think it's a comfortable distance.
It was no surprise that at the 5km mark my shoulders started to feel a bit fatigued. My form was still good, I had no cramps, and my breathing was 100% in control. I felt good. So I continued.
At the 12 km mark the rest of my body started to join the shoulders, I was running in what I call: ''the ideal tempo''(please let me know if you know the term for it). It is a tempo you feel very comfortable with, it doesn't require that much energy/effort to uphold and this was exactly what I needed to finish this run. But this ideal tempo wasn't really bearing it's fruits like it did earlier. No, it was more like rotten fruits xD.
Because I was so focussed on my breathing, form and tempo I had already forgotten about the ache in my shoulders, but now I started to feel it in my legs, they were getting heavy. The soles of my shoes were starting to kiss the ground a little bit to intimately, that I now needed to focus on lifting my knees as well.
The apple I ate before I started running had now made it's way downtown. Man, did I needed to take a fat dump. But you know you can't. You're just magically hoping it will dissolve into little farts along the way. I mean it was only an apple xD. Thankfully that is exactly what happened.
In the last 5 km, I had now started to look obsessively to my match and the rate the distance was getting smaller. Spoiler alart, this was where my mental started to get a massive beatdown. Also, my left ankle started to feel a little bit loose, not like: ''Nice I did some pilattes and yoga and my ankle feels reborned.'' No, more like: I am pretty sure it's not supposed to turn like the neck of an owl, spinning like a fidget spinner, round and round.
I could just not keep it steady. For whatever reason I had to laugh, that I got myself in this situation and with that notion I somehow re-found my orignal motivation for doing this. I pulled through and made it to the end.
To everyone who likes to attempt this as well, I highly recommend you to train before running a (half) marathon.
I have been a soccer player; a winger to be precise for 10 years, played badminton at a decent level and ran in the time I had left during the week. My general physical condition is pretty decent. So I knew from myself; realistically, that I could do it.
If you have no experience in running, or no consistent exercising background I would just start of by running smaller distances, build up, take it at your own pace. Slowly work towards the higher distances. Let your body get used to the pressure, grow endurance.
I would advise you to find a buddy who likes to train for half a marathon as well or just likes to run. Doing it together gives great stamina and some accountability to get yourself going even at the times where you're not feeling like it.
The day after I had quite some trouble with walking, my body was super stiff and fatigued, I tried doing some yoga and stretching, but even that didn't work. I just had to rest and walk it off ( ironically xD).
To summerize. I am very happy I pushed myself to do it, I am content with the result. I ran 21,5 km in 2 hours, 6 min and 43 seconds. I ran an estimate of 10 km/per hour, without forcing myself into running super fast. I proved to myself I can do/achieve the things I want if I set my mind to it. The only one who's holding me back is myself.
Disclaimer: I am no expert on running a (half) marathon, nor did I study sports, injuries, etc. So if I have said something very stupid that you as a professional disagree with, then please enlighten me. I do love running and I have read many books about interval training, basic foundations of running, form, breathing and psychology. There's a grain of truth in what I am saying, so you can decide how much you want to believe of it.
If you have any questions about running, preparing yourself mentally, or just want to talk about a specific topic. Leave a comment and start a conversation :)
The left handed writer