Preparing for a Half Marathon
To this date I’ve ran quite a number of marathons. At first I faced a ton of adversity and anxiety but over the months, they’ve become numb to me as I have become accustomed to them. It has almost become a routine for me every time I sign up for a half marathon. I haven’t done a full marathon yet, which is my ultimate goal. I’ve gone up to 20 miles but a full marathon is 26. But still, even the thought of a 20 mile run makes me shiver, let alone adding 6 more. However, 13 miles (half marathon) have become a bit easier and I can overcome them with little thought. If you are trying out running for the first time or are beginning and aiming for a 13 mile goal, there is a lot of preparing that needs to be done.
My journey to the 13 mile wasn’t all that slow and steady but rather a bit rushed. It wasn’t as if I greatly desired to complete 13 miles at the time but it WAS my eventual goal. While I was still a young grasshopper in my running timeline, I would mainly stick to 6 mile runs. It definitely made me break a sweat but I did enjoy it. Running is something that you take step by step. You run a certain distance, and repeat it until you acquire the stamina to run it effortlessly. Then you add more distance and more distance and so on. I recommend all beginner runners also take this method and apply it into their training. The concept itself is quite general and can be applied to many other things besides running. Anyways, you work your way up the totem pole through weeks of training. AND I MEAN WEEKS. Back then I wasn’t as dedicated to running as I am now. It was more of a hobby so I would only run 1-2 times per week. It was a gradual build, as is everything that you do in life. I often attended 10k (6 miles) races as they are a fun experience that will continue to motivate you in running. Majority of my running was either alone or with a running buddy though. I didn’t only run when there was an organized event.
Finally, I’ve been running for a good amount of time and consistently as well. The half marathon was probably expected to be somewhere around the corner…or maybe the second corner. I was just barely comfortable with 10 mile distances so I thought I still had time before I was ready for a half marathon and that- NO. The universe hates me. Quite frankly, I ended up running a half marathon much earlier than I had anticipated. My running bud had found a great half marathon event and he wanted me to join. He constantly pushed for me to join the event and I ended up giving in. I told him I was “excited” for the run and was up for the challenge which was what he wanted to hear. At the time, “excited” meant a whole different meaning for me than the dictionary states it.
I signed up for the run about 2 weeks before the actual date and as the event inched closer and closer by the day, my anxiety exponentially increased. The night before the half marathon, which was to occur at 6:30am, I was a wreck. I was running around, setting my alarm clock, getting a small breakfast ready, getting my running clothes out, packing my bag with sunblock and deodorant, setting more alarms, hydrating with water, charging my phone, getting my music playlist ready, etc. Although I was a nervous wreck, these precautions and essentials are definitely helpful and important. “Chance favors the prepared mind.” I do recommend carrying out all these things that I did to prepare for a half marathon as it is a good standard on what you’ll most likely need to do and bring. This discipline of preparing is a great habit to have in life and can help you vastly on various occasions. It’s better not to scramble for your stuff on the day of the event.
The preparing wasn’t even the hard part. The real obstacle is completing the run. As a general statement , it is safe for me to say that for me, running is the most mentally enduring activity I have yet to come across within my entire life. You definitely feel this mental pressure while on a cross country team. In cross country a goal to meet, a time to beat, and a coach to satisfy. You better meet that expectation even if you are dead tired in the middle of the run and all you want to do is quit. And the only thing stopping you from doing it is your mind telling you that you can’t. Your mental confidence is your real obstacle. Trust me when I say every runner has felt this, but in the middle of the run or at least towards the end, you will want to quit. And you will want to stop and walk or get a drink of water.
BUT YOU CAN’T! DO NOT FALTER TO YOUR MIND! You might feel actual pain but you must keep running to get over it! That’s why actual organized events with many runners are so helpful. They provide extra support and motivation. Especially big events have many people cheering for you on the side and it helps runners keep going.
Throughout the long run I had to consistently tell myself to keep pushing. Although I was fairly accustomed to 10 miles, that additional three miles that were suddenly thrown at my face weren’t easy, especially after I had already completed 10 miles. Those extra three miles that I had never done seemed like 300 miles. By then my legs were starting to feel like the consistency of jello and every step felt like a year. But I forced myself to go through and push myself. Even though my time wasn’t all that spectacular, after completing the entire run, the achievement was bitter sweet and I got to celebrate all that hard work.
The running community is gigantic, and every runner has their own way of preparing for a run. As you start running more often, you have your own style of running and do things your own way. Whether you are a runner or not I hope you can take from my experiences and attempt and trying these concepts out in your own life and attaining success from it. Always keep a sharp, prepared mind, and never give up and keep pushing forward.