hampton court half marathon

Marathon training journey – part 4

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It’s been a rollercoaster ride since my last marathon training update. As part of my training plan, I’d built it around two key dates: The Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon and the Hampton Court Half Marathon.

They were the two key fixtures I wanted to aim towards to judge my progress.

So, first up was the Portsmouth half marathon. A great event back in my home town that involved a tricky section on the beach! Having never run that distance before (10 miles was my furthest run), I was simply eyeing this as a training run. Get the miles in, don’t worry about time… However, it proved to be a real success.

Initially aiming for sub 2:30, I completed the run in 2:09, with negative splits (starting slowly and finishing strongly). I actually felt pretty good throughout. Morale was raised. I thought I was in a good place.

Fast forward and two weeks later, the Hampton Court half couldn’t have been any more different.

marathon training run

I ran it all wrong. Rather than seeing the run as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal – the marathon – I went for a sub 2 hour half marathon PB. Big mistake.

Initially, I felt great. I ran my fastest ever 10k and the 2-hour mark was well within distance. I also ran my fastest ever 10 miles.

It proved to be a harsh lesson learned. Over that distance, you have to pace yourself. I didn’t, and my run completely fell apart in the latter stages of the race. My kilometre and mile splite were all wrong, gradually getting slower until the final mile.

Plus, I completely ran out of steam, going through the full range of negative emotions from around the 10 miles mark. I battled with my mind about stopping, had three energy gels in quick succession (which made me feel sick), and had to embrace the pain in my knee whilst trying to forget about the blister I’d got.

Ironically, I still beat my previous time of 2:09 – running 2:08. However, the impact on my body was a lot more severe. I had knee and back pain, plus felt awful, and I knew I’d overdone it.

It’s a big wake up call. Having felt good, almost confident (dare I say) I know now that I’m still a long way off the full marathon.

My key learning is about pacing. You HAVE to get it right when running long distances as it’s incredible how quickly your body deteriorates if you get it wrong. Despite the bad run at Hampton Court, I’m still positive about my progress – I’ve got two half marathons under my belt and have, so far, avoided serious injury.

The next challenge is to scale up the distances to the longer runs – 14 miles, 16 miles and 18 miles with two weeks in between them. Stay tuned for my last update before race day!

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Chris Smith
Founder of Vivi Nation, sports enthusiast, occasional triathlete, keen cyclist and optimistic Liverpool FC fan.

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