10 Running Lessons I Learnt From My First 10 Half Marathons (One From Each Race)
- Try not to set a time target in stone if it’s your first race (Larne Half Marathon 2011) – Or at least don’t feel upset with yourself if you don’t hit it. If you’ve never ran the race distance before then it’s difficult to know how it will feel. In my first half marathon in Larne I felt like shit afterwards for having to walk the last 2 miles and not achieving my sub 2:15 race target. 4 months previous to that I couldn’t run 2 miles.
- Don’t experiment with race gear on race day (Great Scottish Run 2011) – I’d only ran wth my Camelbak once before the Great Scottish Run, but never with any fluid in it. Being a bit of a dick, I had no reservations filling it up with 2 fucking litres of Lucozade Sport and having it swash around on my back for 13.1 miles. Fortunately the Camelbak had the decency to leak in a crowded elevator rather than around the course itself. That would have been a complete fucking disaster rather than the minor humiliation it ended up being.
- You don’t have to abstain from alcohol to run a good race (Cardiff Half Marathon 2011) – I went into the Cardiff Half Marathon 2011 with 3 months off the booze. I had a bottle of wine with my Nachos the night before the Cardiff Half Marathon and woke up having slept amazingly well and later achieved a personal best. I’d assumed up to this point that alcohol was always detrimental to performance….
- But you do have to moderate how much you drink the night before (Liverpool Half Marathon 2012) I flew over to Liverpool on St Patrick’s Day 2012 and drank a little too much Jagermeister out on Mathew Street. I ended up looking like this during the last 3 miles of the race. Not a pretty picture, eh? I felt much worse than this inside though.
I still love the guy behind me in yellow. He’s as cool as fuck whereas I would seem to be on the verge of total meltdown.
- Pure mental determination alone can lift you over the wall (Larne Half Marathon 2012) - The Larne Half was 6 days after the Liverpool Half Marathon and I was paranoid that last year’s performance would come back to haunt me again and I’d crash in the last 5k. And I almost did. Fortunately I just dug in deep and managed three 9:59 minute miles in a row. It was my 2nd worst performance to date time wise, but it felt like a victory for not giving in when I easily could have.
- You can recover after a slow start (whether it’s in a race or in life itself) and still finish strong regardless of what your mind, body or anyone else is telling you (Edinburgh Rock N Roll Marathon 2012) – I spent too many crazy drunken nights in Edinburgh in my early twenties. I came over this time determined to make my mark and find redemption in an old sinning ground. I flew down the Royal Mile towards the end and if I could have V-signed every bad memory away there and then, then I would have. Only I was wary of being found guilty of a public order offense.
- Starting out too fast can make the last half of a race hell (Great Scottish Run 2012) - But that doesn’t mean you can’t hold it together like I did here at the end. I achieved a personal best in but I looked and felt like hell after the run. This picture from the last 5k still troubles me. It looks like I’m the world’s worst guardian angel, summoned by the girl in-front to pull her over the wall.
- Just because you only shaved 2 seconds off your previous personal best doesn’t make it any less of a PB (Waterside Half Marathon 2012). I hated this fucking race though. We ran through 2 industrial estates in the pouring rain and I thought I couldn’t get any wetter until some cunt driver started blaring his horn to get me to yield for him, before finally splashing more water on me on his way past for his encore.
- Friendship alone is worth more than any outcome in a race (Great North Run 2012) (unless your friend tries to bugger you with a traffic cone during your post-race stretch) – This was the race where my timing chip came off before the starting line. Devastated. But the weekend in Newcastle with Paul taught me that there is much more to running than just recording personal bests (including moshing to Blondie).
- Sometimes everything goes right no matter how bad you think it’s gonna be (Great Birmingham Run 2012) – Apart from your fucking nipple moisturising regime.