Posted: 17/04/2008 at 10:49
I've been running on/off for the past 8 years almost but never quite kept it going for more than a few months. I tended to train for a 10K race and then once completed would lose my motivation and stop running completely.
Anyway last year I started training for the Hampton Court 10K in October and managed a fairly respectable 55 minutes. This time I thought to myself why not keep on running and decided on another challenge, the Reading Half Marathon. It's only twice as far as a a 10K how hard can it be. So I downloaded a training plan using Smartcoach and continued running through the winter. I gave myself a time of 2 hours to aim for and joined a gym so that I could use the treadmils during my lunch hour at work and also to keep me out of the English weather. I also mixed this up with a long run every weekend running around the Twickenham area which is by The Thames and is a great place to jog by.
I would say to anyone who is going to start running a longer race. "Take it slowly when it comes to increasing the mileage". It is so easy to get carried away and go from 8 miles one week to 10 the next. From my experience this is the best way to get injured and I have learnt that it's better to be running than to be sidelined for a week with an injury. So even though I picked up one injury I made sure that I completely stopped running for a week and then started again with very easy runs after that.
Finally the months of traing flew past and the day of the Reading marathon came. I had trained really well and a couple of weeks before the race had completed a good 11 mile long run which gave me so much confidence that I didn't feel nervous on the raceday at all. On the day of the race I felt good and I thought my target time was a realistic one. It was a great race which was well organised even though it took about 20 minutes to cross the start line. I got in a nice rythm and at about half way I was a little bit behind my target time. I had to speed up if I was going to make my two hour finish time. Time to step on the gas. I had about 5 miles where I just gave it my all. I'd never run this fast on training runs and I discovered reserves of enery I never knew I had. The last mile was the hardest to be honest as just as you saw the finish the course whisked you away from it on a huge extra loop. Once I got into the stadium the adrenalin just surged though me and I managed to summon up one last big effort and sprint the last 100 metres. I passed under the finish line and looked at my watch 2 hours 2 minutes. I'd done it, just.
Since then I've decided to enter 3 more 10K's this summer and another half marathon in late Autumn. I love the fact that I can now run longer distances as this has opened up some great running routes for me in Richmond Park. The views over South-west London are spectacular. I suppose my next goal has to be a marathon. This time last year I would not have even contemplated it but now I think with the right training plan I can do it. Keep on running and set yourself new challenges to keep yourself motivated, it worked for me!