Post Mortem for a Half Marathon.
I ran a half marathon a couple of weeks ago. It pretty much sucked for a number of reasons.
A few of those reasons were well within my control, so I thought I would share them here so you don’t make the same mistakes. You are welcome.
Firstly I will acknowledge those factors that were beyond my control. Having trained primarily in really cold temps, having the sun beating down and running the entire race on asphalt, which in turn made my feet feel like they were on fire, was pretty hard. The headwind was dry and horrible, the course was uninteresting and badly serviced for water. There was no option at all for powerade or similar. Nothing I could have done about any of those things, but they certainly made for a tough run for many of us. In fact of all the people I know who ran the half that day, none had a terribly fun race.
But all that aside, here are my top tips for not screwing yourself over on race day.
1. Don’t wear ANYTHING new on race day.
There are lots of things that can go wrong in new gear, especially over 21.1kms. Chafing, riding up, irritation. For goodness sake get out for a decent run in your race day outfit beforehand so you know that NOTHING is going to distract you from your run clothing wise. Much as I love my new shorts, fiddling around with them mid race was not really conducive to getting in the zone.
2. Watch what you eat.
So obvious. For the entire week before the Melbourne half marathon I was so conscious of what went in my mouth. I ate clean and I ate carefully. The night before I enjoyed a seafood pasta and on the day I consumed exactly what I had practiced consuming during training runs. I ran 2.06 which was beyond what I imagined I could do.
Between that half and the more recent one, I got a bit up myself. I ran a 24km and a 30km on my usual diet which is not exactly perfect, therefore I decided I didn’t need to try so hard in the lead up to the half.
I didn’t respect race day and the fact that I would go out harder than on any training run, and I wasn’t carrying fuel that I had trained with recently. Just daft, don’t do it!
Eat good food. Trust me.
3. Allow for injury.
Again, pride before the fall. Actually, a fall before the half.
I ran my first half marathon off the back of three weeks complete rest with a serious groin injury. By some miracle I got through the race, and I recovered beautifully.
As a result I decided I was bullet-proof. Guess what?
I had a fall a week before the horrible half. I banged up my knee and rolled my ankle, and the ankle hurt for a long while after. Truth be told it is still not back to normal. But despite the fact that I could have switched to a shorter distance and probably had a really fun race, I stubbornly insisted on running (or limping) the half. From about 14kms on I knew things weren’t right but I kept on going.
Again, just daft. a DNF* is preferable to a CREA**. Not superwoman? Don’t try to be then.
* Did Not Finish
** Can’t Run Ever Again
4. Respect the Distance
When you have gotten into the swing of distance running, and when you spend time with marathoners, the half marathon can start to feel a bit walk-in-the-park. A bit not-a-big-deal.
21.1kms is a LONG WAY. Even if you run it every week, every day, it is still a long way. It is a lot further than most people will run ever in their lives. Hell most won’t even run a quarter of that!
Resect the distance. Respect your training and don’t forget what it took to get you where you are now. Appreciate that even if you can run a really long way, sometimes it will be hard on your body and you need to listen to what your body is telling you.
Do as I say, not as I do, and you will be fine. Happy racing!