My Half Marathon experience and some tips for anyone considering taking up running
Many people, at some point in their life, contemplate taking up running for fitness and may even aspire to run a half marathon or even a full marathon, whether they decide to follow up on it or not. I was not one of these people. However when my girlfriend signed me up for the Cardiff half marathon I had little option, and when I expressed any doubt I would be told “but it is so good for your fitness” and “but it’s for a good cause”. Both of which were undoubtedly true but I initially struggled, as so many do, at the first hurdle of finding the motivation to get out on the road and train.
I’ve usually considered myself as fairly fit but this challenge required a different type of fitness, something that I quickly discovered after 2 short laps of the local block!
A tip from a marathon running friend of mine was that when I was struggling I should not stop, even if this meant slowing down to a snail’s pace (which it frequently did). This, over time, helped me to build up my aerobic capacity and gradually eek out a few more kilometres on each run. When the distance became more comfortable, I would look to improve my average speed per kilometre. I had set myself a target of completing the half marathon in 1 hour 45 minutes, which would require an average speed of 5 minutes per kilometre which was calculated by an app on my phone. For most of my training I was well off this pace, but in the 2 weeks before the event I found an extra gear and eventually on the day I posted a time of 1 hour 47 minutes.
I would say my first and main regret looking back, would be that my longest training run was 14 kilometres – 7 shy of the race distance. I had been told that on the day those extra few kilometres would come easily because of the adrenaline in my system. I flew through the first 14 kilometres in personal best time, but then crashed and my average pace dipped significantly. Although not disappointed with my final time, it could have been a lot better had I got my training right beforehand.
I have struggled with back pain myself for quite some time and since combing regular care with training for the half marathon it has never been better. I now appreciate first hand, that early intervention for niggles and injuries is key to keeping on track with the training program.
At the clinic we often see sports men and women with a variety of injuries, which I think helped me to cope with injury hurdles when I faced them in the months prior to the run. I suffered badly with shin splints for the majority of my training, but with the help of Jenny, Kathryn and Bryn who all put time aside to help me, I was able to train twice a week usually albeit icing and stretching intensively between runs. Pain on the outside of my knee also hindered me particularly when running on uneven ground, Jenny swiftly diagnosed me with iliotibial band friction syndrome and by using a foam roller and getting my knee and pelvis adjusted frequently I was able to overcome this. Thanks to the good work of my friends and colleagues at the clinic I managed to run relatively injury free on the day of the race, aside from a broken toe picked up at hockey the day before!
I am really looking forward to treating lots of runners and sports people in the future and be able to use my own experience to help them achieve their best.
Looking back on the experience I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it and I learnt a lot about my body and its capabilities on the way. I would recommend training for a half marathon or similar endurance event to everyone, as having a target like that to aim for provides motivation to get fit and healthy. I have struggled with back pain myself for quite some time and since training for the half marathon it has never been better. I also now appreciate that early intervention for niggles and injuries is key to keeping on track with the training program. I am looking forward to treating lots of runners and sports people in the future and be able to use my own experience to help them achieve their best.