It is coming up for 18 years since I ran my first marathon and for those relatively new to running who might be reading this, you never stop learning. This weekend I have done Parkrun and today, Inverness Half Marathon and two very different lessons learned. The overwhelming learning from these two runs is that you get what you train for.
In yesterday’s Parkrun, I went off at a pretty good pace and felt comfortable up to 2.5 miles and then my body reminded me that I hadn’t run all week and I started to lose the pace a bit. I did do a workout on the stairs at home involving jumping and hopping upstairs and I believe that helped in me feeling really good for the first 2 miles. I wasn’t disappointed at the finish, just more aware of needing to make time to run during the week next week.
Today’s run was in total contrast. Lack of training this week was on my mind but not having raced the half distance for a while made me unsure how it would pan out. I wasn’t really fussed about the time, more interested in maintaining good form for as long as I could. This allowed me to become more aware of everything else going on around me. I found myself writing this post in my head while I ran in the second half of the race! I had become aware of previous race habits of mine that I no longer follow. I used to set targets based on pace, get passed those not wearing conventional running gear, those wearing lurid tops etc to things like if someone passed me then I would try to get passed them again. All things that I had picked up from all the races I’ve done and sometimes it worked, sometimes not but it would put some pressure on me to work hard in the race.
What I came to realise today was that no matter if you have someone pacing you or you’re trying to follow a random runner round the course, you still need to put in the effort in training to make sure you can do it. I remembered all these habits when I saw people shooting off in the first 2-3 miles and previously, I would likely have gone with them to try to keep up but today, I didn’t.
It’s very tempting to follow the runners who go off quickly but you have to consider whether they have the stamina to keep that pace up or whether you do! The only thing you can control in a race is your own performance and with that in mind, I wanted to run at a pace where I knew I could step up a gear at any point if I needed to and also play to my strengths on the hills. I’ve learned how to run up hills and also run down them so I can use that to my advantage in a race. This meant that I was able to pass people both on the uphill bits and downhills without using up any more energy.
I felt pretty relaxed the whole way round, even from 10 miles onwards when fatigue can kick in. I became more aware of the people who had gone flying out in those first 2-3 miles starting to feel the pace and so I started to pass them all with relative ease. With the latter part of the course the same as the Loch Ness Marathon course, I was very familiar with it and it was nice to run this section feeling a lot fresher than before!
I felt pretty good even coming to the last mile which took us way beyond the usual finish of the marathon, round past the ice rink before following a path onto the athletics track and a final 250/300m to the finish. We approached the bend and I felt myself speeding up into that extra gear I had kept my pace for and found myself passing 2 or 3 guys on the way to the finish line. I crossed the line in 1hr 34mins and 5 seconds, not my fastest half marathon but very pleased with my strategy which I’ll be taking into Paris. What was pleasing was that only one person who passed me during the race, stayed ahead of me and he passed me with less than half a mile to go.
How’s your running been? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your running?