Week 6- My First Ever Half Marathon and Tapering Time
Wow. How time flies…
I can’t believe it’s been eleven weeks since I began training for the Uganda marathon and struggled to complete a 5K in my first training session. Now with only 18 days to go until the race and all my long distance training runs done, it time to think about tapering to ensure I’m 100% fit come May 24th.
But before I get to my tapering plans, there’s my last week of intensive training to fill you in on, which I rounded off with my first ever half marathon.
Training Week 11: Recovery and Preparation
With the completion of my 19-mile run on Saturday 25th April (and longest training run to date), I gave myself Sunday-Tuesday off to ensure my body had adequate recovery time. However I wanted to also give myself some time off at the end of the week, to ensure I was fresh for my first ever half marathon on Monday.
I’m pleased to say my recovery time from my 19 miler didn’t take a long as I anticipated. By Tuesday the muscles in my legs were feeling fine.
In fact, my recovery time seems to be a lot better in my second bout of marathon training, compared to when I trained for my first marathon last year. Hopefully that means I’m fitter this time, but I’ve also been using some sports products, especially over the last few weeks, that seemed to have made a real difference when recovering from those longer runs.
Being the newbie I am, and still exploring this ‘world of running’, I had no idea these products existed. But I’ve been very fortunate as when Charlie at the sports company ‘Perform Better’ heard I was taking on the Uganda marathon, the organisation kindly agreed to provide some items to help with my training which included: ‘the stick’, a foam roller and recovery tights.
Insert Image 2: A BIG THANK YOU goes to Charlie and Perform Better for supporting my Uganda marathon efforts!
‘The stick’ is probably my favourite item as I’ve found it’s really helpful in the recovery of calfs after those longer runs. Quite often post run, I would use it to massage bottom half of my legs whist relaxing with the tv on. I didn’t even know this item existed until recently, but now I’ll be squeezing it into my rucksack for Uganda. It’s almost like a sport massage!
The foam roller has proved useful too to loosen my muscles before runs. I found it a little tricky to use at first and kept almost sliding off it! But now I’ve got the hang of it, it’s pretty straight forward. And the tights- well I wasn’t sure about them at first, but you can feel the recovery tights compress around the muscles, which seems to help recovery, so they’ve been a big help too. (Plus I’ve found out Premier League footballers use them , and that’s pretty cool- so they make me feel like a bit of a pro post run too!)
Overall, with some improved fitness, the items above have been a real asset after tackling those 20K or 30Ks over the last few weeks, helping my warm ups and warm downs. Who knew there was so much to running!?
However whilst my muscle recovery had been good, my right knee joint had a niggle throughout the week. So rather than take any chances, I rested mid week instead of my two planned runs.
It paid off- by Friday I was feeling ready to take on my first ever half marathon!
The Milton Keynes Half Marathon
The bank holiday arrived and it was race day. With a 7am start and road trip from Hampshire to Milton Keynes, we arrived at the MK stadium about an hour before the race was due to start. This was perfect timing as it turned out, giving us enough time to drop off our bags, get changed, warm up and fix those race numbers to our shirts.
I’d forgotten how good the vibe was at these events. Everyone’s in a great mood, there’s a really positive atmosphere and everyone supports each other, no matter what level you are.
At 10am the race began and wave after wave of runners crossed the start line with the crowd cheering loudly, which was a great experience.
Determined to break my bad habit of shooting off too quick and burning out towards the end of a race, I set off with the intension of taking the first mile or two nice and slow, and working myself steadily into the race.
By mile three I stepped up the pace very steadily but tried to maintain my discipline. I continued this constant pace over the concrete course until mile 10, where I then struggled slightly and needed to slow it down a notch, but things were still going well. I felt like I was onto a good time.
Things did start to change though at mile 12 as it became incredibly hard to keep going and my body was urging me to stop…it felt like the longest mile ever…and I did keep thinking to myself ‘how much further could it possibly be?’… but in the end I did make it to the stadium finish.
It was quite an experience finishing a race in the MK Dons stadium with the crowd cheering, and even though I’ve completed one marathon previously, I was ecstatic (and relieved…and heavily breathing) to cross that finish line, with a arms in the air celebrating!
I’d completed my first ever half marathon and that brought the long distance runs in my training programme to a close. One race down. One to go. The next race: the Uganda marathon.
And with a half marathon time of 1:39:33 (just short of my training PB time – 1:36:48) and finishing 200th out of 1600, it was a great result. I was pleased too with the performance- I’d just about managed to get my pacing right throughout and balance it with the race length, which was going to be crucial in Uganda.
I could go into the Uganda marathon on a high.
Week 12: Tapering Begins
When preparing for my first marathon last year I was reluctant to taper, as I just couldn’t understand how less miles prior to a race could be a good thing? But after some research and speaking to more experienced runners, I realise now how much it can benefit your performance on race day. Giving you an opportunity to wind down, heal any damage and build your energy reserves back up, can make a massive difference on race day.
So as long distance runs won’t help my performance from now on, I’m going to keep things ticking along over the next couple weeks with 3Ks and 5Ks, and an occasional 10K. However they’ll all be at a real steady pace (no more PB hunting for now!)
Specifically with week 12, I’ll take it easy post half marathon, and then squeeze in a few short runs at the end of the week to help keep some momentum going.
So that’s it for week 11, with tapering beginning, as there’s less than two weeks to go now. My final blog before the trip will cover my strategy for the Uganda marathon (eeekk!!) and general feelings pre-race.
Until next time….(but instead of me finishing off this blog with something motivational like normal, I’ll go with something more relaxed, since I’ve started tapering)… So, start putting those feet up and taking it easy- you’ve got a relay/half marathon/marathon to run in Masaka in roughly two weeks time! And you want to be fresh for it, because it’s going to be an epic experience 🙂Let's get social! Stay up to date with amazing news and photos from Uganda, plus race tips and more: