I raced a half-marathon the other weekend as a tune-up race for my upcoming marathon. I didn’t set any high expectations for myself- I really just wanted to treat it as a marathon-pace training run. That’s easier said than done! I tend to get caught up in the festive atmosphere and always end up pushing myself a little bit harder than I probably should. That being said, I really enjoyed the race, set a 2-minute 2018 PR of 1:35:00, and it taught me some lessons that I will take with me going into my first marathon later this month:
- Don’t start too fast. Duh. I should know this by now. But it seems to happen every time that I race! I have so much pent-up adrenaline and energy that my first couple of kilometres always seem to be my fastest. In this race, I ended up passing the 1:35 pace bunny in the first 3 kilometres, only to be passed again in the final 2. Any seasoned distance runner knows that this is never a good idea- you end up using precious glycogen stores too early, leaving your legs feeling heavy in the final kilometres of the race. For the marathon, I plan to start very conservatively, gradually increasing the pace in the second half and (hopefully) running a negative split.
- Allow for ample recovery time. I was riding a post-race high in the days following the run, doing 8 km the day immediately following the race and 15 km the next day. I continued to push myself for the remainder of the week and ultimately came down with a flu virus this past weekend. Recovery is so easy to ignore, but it is so, so important- it’s something that I am becoming much more conscious of as I start running longer distances.
- Don’t get caught in the comparison trap. Social media makes it so easy for us to compare ourselves to other athletes. Remember that we are all on our own journeys in sport! We are all running for different reasons and each of us has varying amounts of time and energy to commit to it at this moment in time. The fact that we are healthy enough to run and race is something to celebrate in and of itself. I have been making a point of taking brief breaks from social media and I find that the lack of distraction helps me to focus more on my training. For some, social media is motivating and inspiring, but I recognize that I am prone to comparing myself to others. It’s been really refreshing to just run without that in the back of my mind. If you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, I encourage you to identify the things that are aggravating this and make an effort to cleanse yourself of them, even for a short period of time.
Let me know if you would like more running-themed posts, and stay tuned for a post-marathon update!