How to run a half marathon
You will need:
• 1 x pair of running trainers
• 1 x pair of shorts
• 1 x T-shirt
• Lots of training
• Lots of enthusiasm
• A willingness to try really hard
Last weekend, I mixed all of these ingredients together as I took part in the Reims Half Marathon. Reims is a French city famous for its large Notre-Dame Cathedral, which is actually bigger than the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and arguably more important – it is where all of the kings of France were crowned. It was here that the half marathon started, and so at 9am on Sunday 20th October I found myself looking at the great cathedral, thinking about the 21.1km the Reims half marathon had in store for me.
However, rewind a few months and this is when the half marathon experience starts, when you sign up to take part. From here the ‘lots of training’ part comes in. Generally, most people when training for a half marathon will gradually increase the distance they run over a number of weeks, until they reach the 21.1km, then they will have a ‘tapering week’ before the main event. A tapering week means rest, good food and short, slow paced runs to make sure that you’re on top form come race day.
My training for the Reims half marathon was all going well, until I moved to France. During my first week I was very busy, having little time to train. I did, however, find time to eat lots of French bread, cheese and pâtisserie (cakes.) Not the best diet for an aspiring runner. Yet after the first week I joined a running club, and although their training sessions didn’t include any long distance runs, at least I was still running three times a week. Also, doing some proper running training with a coach helped me to make my running technique more efficient, meaning I could carry on for longer without getting as tired.
So, race day came around and I had my lots of training, and I definitely had my ‘lots of enthusiasm;’ I couldn’t stop smiling! The race organisers had put musicians at different points throughout the course, and running past samba bands or hearing trumpets and trombones blasting out really did give everyone a boost.
Towards the end, at around the 17km mark with 4.1km still to go, my ‘willingness to try really hard’ was certainly put to the test. I had been running for a long time, my legs ached and I was very hot, despite chucking some water over my head (I’d seen the professionals do it on TV, so I thought “if it works for them, it could work for me!”) But I always had my target in my head: finish in less than 1hr 45 minutes. Hearing the crowds cheering spurred me on to the finish, and I crossed the line. I looked at my watch, exhausted but happy: 1hr 43 minutes 43 seconds.