I might be getting somewhere with this half marathon lark. After the minor setback of being horribly ill, I went out last Wednesday to ease myself back into training, attempting to replicate the six miles I had achieved the week before. I set myself a steady pace and trotted along around the mile circuit from my house and back, feeling the strength come back into my fatigued body as my heart got pumping. I was going slower than I had been previously, around 10 minute miles, but it didn’t matter. I hadn’t lost too much pace from the missed weekend of training, or the violently missing stomach contents.
At the end of 5 miles I was feeling fantastic – the healing power of the run had flushed my cheeks and brought my muscles back to life. This is the brilliant side of running. I’ve written plenty about how hard it can be, and how painful and frustrating it is sometimes, but when everything just feels right and you’re on top of your game, you feel like you could keep running forever.
I picked up the pace as I knew I wasn’t going further than six (don’t push it!) and completed the last lap of the route in a time more akin to my usual 10k pace. Stopping my watch outside my house and slowing to catch my breath I couldn’t help but raise my arms in the air in jubilation. Not the furthest, not the fastest, but an achievement nonetheless considering I wasn’t 100% fit just yet. I was going to miss my Friday evening run thanks to a prior engagement with some cocktails but I was already looking forward to Sunday. Time to step it up a notch.
Sunday evening’s run was to be a milestone for me – I was going to add another mile onto the six I had managed so far, and it would be the first time I had run further than a 10k in one go. Admittedly the slower pace makes it a lot more manageable but from now on my endurance was going to start being tested. Heavy rain earlier in the day meant it was a lot less humid than of late so I was comfortable from the outset, and the miles ticked by reassuringly quickly. I barely noticed the additional lap, although my legs were starting to twinge in protest at breaking the one hour barrier. I completed 7 miles in an average of 9.45 per mile, a huge boost to my confidence with 7 weeks to go!
I’m choosing not to think about the fact that I’ve pretty much got to run twice that distance to get that coveted Great North Run medal, but I’m finding that adding on a mile a week is working for me. I’m not wearing myself out and I’m not having to push it too hard to make improvements. I love reading other people’s Tweets and comments as they progress in their training, and there is a real sense as we approach six weeks to go that people are getting excited about the race, whether it’s their first time or their fifth. There’s no point in being worried or pessimistic. Heads up, trainers on – I’m over halfway there.