I have this vague ambition to run a marathon at some point in my life. Iâ€™m not sure why, I just think that I would feel like a total bad-ass if I actually managed to run one. I had never really run properly until a couple of years ago. I started off small with Couch to 5k and then never really got much further, what with pregnancy and babies getting in the way. So, in November I decided to sign up for the Kingston Breakfast Run – an eight mile (13km) race. Back then, April seemed so far away that I booked my spot and pretty much forgot about it until sometime in February, when I realised it was only six weeks away and I had to get my ass into gear.
Hereâ€™s how I managed to actually run eight miles (high-five!) and what worked for me:
1. Use a training plan
My goal was to just to complete the race; I wasnâ€™t bothered about times. Still, a training plan was so helpful: first of all, actually scheduling runs into my calendar meant I was much more likely to do them; secondly, it meant that I slowly built up stamina and speed over six weeks so that by race day, I felt ready. I used this really simple plan and adapted it to suit my schedule – I ran on Wednesdays and Fridays when the kids are at the childminder and did my long run on Sundays. I liked that it took all the guesswork out of training – I knew that if I ran when I was supposed to and did what the training plan said, Iâ€™d be able to run the distance on the day itself.
2. Get a running app
There are loads of free ones out there, and I chose Runkeeper. Iâ€™d never used a running app before because, as I say, I really wasnâ€™t bothered about times or what pace I run at. But I found this useful, especially on longer runs, because you can set it to tell you every time youâ€™ve notched up another kilometre. I also used it for my â€˜speedâ€™ runs where I ran fast for three minutes and recovered for three minutes – you can create your own workout and it will tell you when you should start running fast and when to stop. Of course, having not cared about pace, Iâ€™m now totally obsessed with my averagesâ€¦
3. Listen to banginâ€™ tunes!
I know a couple of people (like Rose) who run without music, which I just canâ€™t understand – I would get so bored! Maybe at some point you just totally zone out? Anyway, at first I would listen to podcasts, but I found that I run much faster when I listen to loud music. I now have a carefully curated playlist with my favourite tunes scheduled for when Iâ€™ll need a boost (like when Iâ€™m nearing the end of a run). Current favourites are Final Countdown by Europe and I Canâ€™t Feel My Face by The Weeknd.
4. Get the right kit
When I did my first official 5k (at a park run) I treated myself to some new running gear – that was about two years ago and these running trousers from H&M are still going strong (I wear them for yoga, too). I also bought this running jacket and itâ€™s worked out really well for running in the cold – it keeps me warm at the beginning, but is still breathable once I start sweating. My most important purchase, though, was some decent trainers. I went to a running shop to get mine – they were pricey but worth it. I once injured myself running in crap trainers and I donâ€™t want to do that again.
A blurry picture of me finishing my 8 miles!
Now that the race is over, Iâ€™m going to try to keep running regularly – definitely not three times a week (letâ€™s be real), but hopefully twice. Now that Iâ€™ve made the effort to actually run regularly and build up some stamina, I donâ€™t want to lose it. Itâ€™s funny – I never look forward to a run, but the high afterwards is incredible and is what keeps me going back for more. Sometimes, when Iâ€™m running around Brockwell Park on a sunny day, I want to high-five every other runner I pass, as if to say â€˜Go us! Weâ€™re doing it!â€™. I havenâ€™t yet though…
How do you feel about running? Do you secretly want to run a marathon too?
P.S. Our favourite ways to get some exercise.