Bam—I’ve reached the middle of my half marathon training! Looking back on my first month of training motivates me like crazy to keep chasing my goals. Here’s what’s up:
What things turned out differently than expected?
Also read part 1: why I decided to join the San Francisco Half Marathon
part 2: how I overdid my half marathon training and injured my knees in the second week
part 3: how I felt like a failure and contemplated quitting
part 4: how I stayed motivated and smashed records
1. Kicked fear in the ass
A month ago
When I started my training, I was scared as hell. When getting the registration for the Half Marathon of San Francisco my first reaction was “FUCK” and during every single run, I thought: “I can barely run for 30 minutes. How am I ever going to succeed running for more than two hours?”
Although I still have some big goals to tackle, the challenge is no longer frightening me. I’m halfway through my training period, and I get chills when I think about the fact I have one month left to do this. That’s just four weeks, and about ten runs. The end goal makes me think about all the miles and time I still have to add to my runs. Daunting? Definitely. Doable? You bet.
2. Focused on smaller goals
A month ago
I started my training with a rigid schedule, with specific runs on certain days of the week. The entire time I was focused on the end goal: running 13.1 miles.
On a recent long run of 50 minutes, I decided to set a goal for my next long run: one hour. On Thursday, I laced up and went out there. I had my routine in place: I ran more or less my usual route, had my favorite music playlist ready and had fun plans lined up after my run. I totally nailed it and felt proud.
From running newbie with zero experience to running for an hour straight in a month. I did it! And I was able to do so because I no longer focus on that one big, frightening goal.
“Hey, I see the Golden Gate Bridge, let’s run there,” I thought to myself recently. Each run I focus on nailing a small goal with little effort, and it works great!
3. Doing it my way
A month ago
I started my half marathon journey by following a training schedule. It was built by someone else to my personal needs and told me to run four times a week. I followed my schedule the first week but decided to run more than the schedule encouraged, which I later realized was overdoing it. During my second week, I did my scheduled four runs and injured my knees.
I abandoned my training schedule and went from four runs a week to three and then eventually two. By listening to my body, not overdoing it and focusing on fewer but longer runs, I managed to run for an hour without injuries.
After that run, I went to a bar and sat down with a cocktail to celebrate my victory. Probably no nutritionist would agree with the idea to have an alcoholic drink after burning 500 calories and being dehydrated, but I couldn’t care less. A cocktail was the hydration I needed at that time. I deserved it. While sipping my cocktail, I thought about how I managed to pull this run off. And it was exactly that attitude of “I am doing what feels right” that encouraged me to succeed.
Adjusting my training schedule to my needs was the smartest idea I’ve had so far during my half marathon training. After all: there is no “one size fits all” plan you can follow. Everyone runs differently. The only thing you can do is get out there and experience what works for you.
4. Motivated by Progress
A month ago
When I started running, I only focused on counting down time, on how long I still needed to go. Progress didn’t seem possible. Frankly, I never believed I would make it as far as I have now.
When I reread my post about being able to run for 45 minutes, being stoked about it, and injuring my knees because of it, I smiled. After a month, I have reached a point where I can easily run 50 minutes as part of my normal training.
I wouldn’t be as motivated to keep training if I hadn’t tracked my progress. I track my runs with Runkeeper, my heart rate & sleep with my Basis Peak, my muscle quality with Skulpt and my overall progress with Addapp.
And they all help to give a clear overview of how I am improving.
Seeing how much faster and longer I am able to run now is the best encouragement and stimulation to keep going.
5. Discovered myself
A month ago
I was a quitter and felt insecure about how much I ate without exercising. Even though I was skinny & healthy, I was aware of the amount of chocolate I consumed versus not exercising.
It’s amazing how much I grew in a month and how much I discovered about myself.
I grew physically: I’ve built more muscle and become more fit. I have more energy and am always ready to go somewhere or do an activity. And the condition of my skin improved drastically. (I swear I have less wrinkles on my forehead than a month ago!)
But far more important to me: I grew mentally. I discovered how much willpower I have. Quitting my training has never been an option. Not even when I felt like a failure. When I want something, I go get it. I am going to run this half marathon and no one is stopping me.