Let the Half Marathon Training Begin!

In 116 days, I am apparently going to run 21.1 kilometres (13.1 miles) – a half marathon that will take me through downtown Vancouver, False Creek, Kitsilano, English Bay, Stanley Park and finish in Coal Harbour. I say apparently because the longest distance I have ever run before is about 6.5 kilometres.

So, yea… this is going to hurt.

While I’ve spent much of the last few weeks feeling apprehensive about the number 21.1, yesterday I reviewed my training schedule and decided to take it just one week at a time. Every Sunday, I am going to review my goals for the week and schedule both workouts and rest days in my calendar. And, instead of aiming for specific distances for each run, I think I’m going to start by working on increasing the amount of time I can run for.

Since being back in BC, I’ve gone on a few runs – mostly outdoors – and have been surprised by how not out of shape I am. After an extremely lazy winter in Toronto, I was sure that running even a few blocks would have me out of breath. Instead, my first run in Vancouver had me pushing myself up hills, steadying myself down them, and keeping at such a pace that I never once ran out of breath. My pace was slow but I ran 6K and felt great before, during, and after it.

I know I want to increase my distances (and I obviously will) but, when I think about what makes me nervous to run a half marathon, it’s not actually the number 21.1; it’s the concern that I’ll never physically be able to push myself past running for 30-40 minutes straight. So, to start, I’m going to pencil in timed runs. I’ll track them with RunKeeper, to see how far I go, but I want to get used to running for 30 minutes, 35 minutes, 40 minutes, and so on.

Now, as for running gear (and a budget for it), the few outdoor runs I have gone on helped me realize that I’m not done shopping for everything I need. I have enough capris, tops and socks, and relatively new running shoes, but there are still a few things I need to pickup, including:

  • a lightweight jacket (water resistant and windproof)
  • a running cap (to keep the rain out of my eyes)
  • an armband or FlipBelt for my iPhone and keys

If I shop around, I should be able to get all of that for ~$100. After that, I think I’ll be set.

With 16 weeks of training ahead of me, I will do my best not to turn this blog into a training log… but I can’t promise I won’t mention it here and there! If my debt repayment journey has taught me anything, it’s that setting goals, outlining action steps, and keeping track of your progress is the best way to tackle any challenge. At this point, I don’t care what my final time is… I just want to get myself across that finish line.

Let the half marathon training begin!

Have you ever run a half or full marathon? Got any tips for a newbie?

  • Best of luck Cait!
    I’m doing my first race ever this coming weekend, but it’s only a 10km … maybe a half will be my next stop… we shall see!

  • Good luck!! This is the best piece of advice I can give you: One mile at a time.

    I’ve ran 5 half marathons now and didn’t train for any of them. My longest run before the first was 1 10 mile run. I don’t run for time (obviously) but I finish so I’m happy with that. Unless you are seriously competitive, don’t look too much into running plans and food and stretches and things that can distract you from what you’re actually doing – which is running. It’s that simple.

  • Hey congrats on starting your half marathon training! I hope yours is more successful than mine was. Once you get into +45 minute training, you’ll need to incorporate some sort of hydration and nutrition into your runs. If you need any advice just give me a shout!

  • Make sure to balance your workouts with strength training and yoga. I ran two half marathons last year and found that the strength training, esp for legs and abs, is what really helped build stamina for the race and to get through the longer workouts. You’ll feel amazing afterwards, I channel the feeling of crossing the finish line to imagine the feeling I’ll have when I pay off my debt. It’s enough to keep me going.

    • Great advice, Lindsey! And that’s my plan; although I’m thinking more pilates than yoga, but we’ll see!

  • Don’t start walking during the race (unless you’ve hurt yourself of course) if you stop running and walk even once you tend to start walking more and more. Keep chugging along at a jog even if it’s not a particularly quick one. And two, have fun. Seriously, give high fives to people on the road, smile and nod at other runners, enjoy the scenery or get into the grove of some music!

  • Yay! Good for you :) I debated too long on my decision to sign up for this race or not, and by the time I decided to actually do it, it was sold out. Good luck–I know you can do it!

  • Good luck C! Every year I try to become a runner. And every year I fail. I just really, really hate running. I get so bored. Oddly enough, I enjoy walking a lot. So I do that instead. Even though it takes longer. I wish I could get into running. I’m going to try…again…this year. I’ve done two 5k races and those were sort of fun, but that’s about my limit.

    Go you! The video makes running look palatable :]

    • Sweet! I’m excited to hear how the 10 mile run goes for you, Travis. I loved following your marathon live last year :)

  • Good luck with your training! I am doing my second half in May. I would invest in some body glide, you can get it at any Running Room, trust me it will help a ton!!

  • I have run several half marathons, marathons and triathlons my best advice is to find a running buddy, the only reason you are worried about length of time running is because you have a mental block, I say 90% of distance running is mental, you have to have the fortitude to push yourself. If you have a running buddy they can help push you past your mental block. I always ask people, is your body actually so physically tired that you cannot run another step or do you just feel like stopping. Good luck on your training!

    • Lately, I have been thinking that a running buddy would definitely help. Thanks for the tip, Angela!

  • I am impressed! I don’t think I could do a marathon – knowing me I’d get all excited about it and then just not participate when the time came. But hey, if you ever want a running buddy let me know!

  • Hi Cait – congrats on setting a challenge for yourself. I have been running pretty competitively for 20+years, so will offer you a bit of advice. I don’t think going week to week is the best way to plan this type of event – you know the date of your race and you know the distance. My advice would be to sit down for an hour and plan a training calendar from the race back to today, and actually map out exactly how you are going to prepare yourself. You certainly want to leave some “wiggle room” in there, but the most important “long” run each week will be there staring you in the face, and you know if you don’t run 7 k this weekend, you will find it much harder to get to 8 k next weekend and so on. If you try and “wing it” what often happens is that life gets it the way, and the next thing you know 3 weeks have gone by and you didn’t get a long run in, etc. The best way to have fun at a race is to get there knowing you are ready to run and have a good time. If you want some help setting up a basic training plan, send me an e-mail, I’d be happy to help you write something up. Take care. Chris

  • Congratulations! Update us on all your training! I’m a relatively new runner, I seriously only started actual running last summer, but in that short period of time I’ve done an official 5k, a casual run of 7k (and I felt like death) and I’m aiming for a 10k in September, (which is nowhere near as long as yours) but it really shows the addictiveness of this sport. I’m totally going to take a page out of your book and get my butt in gear with a schedule!

  • This is awesome, Cait – you’re definitely on the right track! What a beautiful course to be running too. Makes me miss Vancouver :(

    I ran my first half marathon in January and I had the same concerns. The furthest distance I had run before it was a 15 km race that I had found to be really difficult. I was worried sick before the half but wound up having the time of my life!

    Sounds like you’ve got a great training plan mapped out. Just stick with it and trust in yourself. So much of these longer races in mental. You can do it!

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