Lessons learned from my first half-marathon

I’ve been planning to run a half-marathon since 2015, but sometimes life and injuries and stupidity comes in the way. And because life comes unexpectedly in the way, it makes it more of an achievement. This spring I had all the luck and dedication to make it work. Here’s what I learned.

On training

Most of the people I met hadn’t had any training at all and were hoping to finish. This made no sense to me. If I run a race, I don’t do it just to cross the finish line. I do it for the training. I do it for the motivation. I like to have a goal and work towards that goal.

On discipline

I found a 10-week plan online and tried to follow it. Midway through my training, I was running more often on the treadmill than outside, because Norwegian winter can be tough, but I was still running all my long runs outside. Outdoor runs were hard. I wore spikes for the ice and multiple layers of clothing and was still cold sometimes. It wasn’t satisfying. Indoor runs were boring and I was replacing most of the easy runs with interval training. Looking back that was my biggest mistake, because intervals make you tired. And as time came closer to the race, I became exhausted, both mentally and physically. Had I followed what my plan said, I wouldn’t have gone through that level of exhaustion. Lesson learned.

On nutrition

I was thinking that I could lose some weight (not that I have much to lose) during my training, but I was so wrong. I had to eat enough to fuel all that intense training and in the end I ended up gaining a bit of weight. It’s not smart to try to lose weight, while training for a race. Eating enough nutritious food is important.

On race day

Race day is a new day. When race day came, I knew I had to let go of whatever happened during the training. I could forget all the hard runs and focus on my plan for the day. It would be stupid to think of all the things that could hold me back.

On my body

Both my body and my mind coped very well with the distance. I had minimal pain while running, my mood was great and I didn’t feel tired at all when I crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 12 minutes. Talking about it later on, I found out I could have run faster, but being a first-timer I was too scared to go full on. I don’t mind a bit though.

On the next day

Or actually what happens next. I didn’t want to continue training that hard, but I still wanted to run another half-marathon in the future. I did a bit of research, gave myself two weeks of minimal running, enough time from my brain to miss running, and ended up with a more personalized plan. For now, I’ll let my body get used to the kilometres. I won’t do any speed work, but rather focus on building base, many slow kilometres every week.

Do you plan to run any race anytime soon? I’m already thinking of the next half…

ps. Photos from my trip to Athens, where I run my first half-marathon on March 19th.

  • I never lose weight prepping for a half marathon or marathon! It’s so true that you have to stay fueled. I’ve made the mistake of doing a race without adequate training, and it’s just so painful during and afterwards. You were smart to do it the way that you did.

    • Learning from the pros. 🙂

  • Very cool! Some great lessons to know now for your next half-marathon!

    • It’s always useful to know what to expect.

  • Andrea Broom

    I’ve wanted to do a marathon or half at least for a while and am on the process of training sorta not really I’m just trying to run more. Honestly people scared me they told me I could pee myself or poop myself because our bodies aren’t used to it. I don’t know how true this is. Reading your post inspired me ti really start training. Thanks!

    • I don’t think anything bad will happen to you if you train properly and let your body get used to the distance and the length of the workout. You can spend more time building the kilometers if that makes you more comfortable. You can do it, as long as you listen to your body and respect your true needs.

  • Congratulations my friend!! 🙂