Towards the end of March, I started receiving last minute sign up promo e-mails for this year’s Vancouver Sun Run. Back in university, the 10k was something I looked forward to every spring, so I started looking up races in Toronto and somehow ended up talking myself into running a half-marathon. Originally, I was aiming for the October Scotiabank Half-Marathon, but I’m impatient and decided to sign up for the Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon a month before the run.
Before I jump into my training experience, I just want to say that I am by no means a running professional or anything. My training experience and diet is completely based off my own research as well as what I felt worked for me.
I did not follow a set schedule, but instead had an approximate guideline and chose what to do each day depending on how my body was feeling. The guideline consisted of a number of long runs and short runs, with an increased mileage each week. Each week, I would do around 2 long runs, 2-3 short runs or cross-training, and take a rest day. Along with some of my runs, I did a bit of strength training in my legs and core.
To help with my training, I used the Nike Run Club app I discovered just before training began. I absolutely love the app because it is super helpful in working towards your goals as you can track the route, pace, and time of your runs. You can set the app to give you voice feedback on your pace and time during your run so you can adjust accordingly. Plus, you can take photos (they have super cute stickers your can add to your photos!), share your run, and earn badges—which makes the experience a lot more fun!
Also, in case you are wondering why the heck I am using miles instead of km when I normally use the metric system– mentally, counting upwards to 13.1 miles while running just seems less than 21.1 km… and that’s really the only reason.
During my first/second long run, I got runner’s toe (pressure on toe = bleeding under nails = ugly, painful, purpley toe) one one my left toes and was developing blisters on other parts of my feet. With the short amount of time I had to train, I didn’t want to give up any days of training, so after a bit of research I discovered this Nexcare cushion tape that worked perfectly. All I had to do was tape over blister prone areas and wrap the tape around my bruised toe, and was able to continue training.
I didn’t follow a very strict diet, but I did try to make sure I was getting all the proper nutrients. This included:
- Amping up my protein and carb intake; protein to rebuild muscle from all the long-run wear-and-tear, carb to fuel the overall higher energy usage
- Making sure I was always hydrated by drinking loooots of water
- Snacking on healthy foods—mainly fruits, yogurt, granola, and nuts
Check out my What I Eat In A Day post for an idea of the typical meals I had during training.
Day Before the Race:
REST + CARB LOADING DAY!
I spent a good 60-70% of the day sitting on my couch, watching Netflix, and consuming carbs. Trust me, it was a fabulous day. The reason behind all the carbs is to fill up your glycogen stores so you have the maximum amount of energy to fuel your run the next day. It’s recommended to eat high carb, low fiber products throughout the day so your stomach doesn’t get all funky before/during the run. I had a bagel and yogurt for breakfast, rice with meat and veggies for lunch, pasta for dinner, and lots of in-between meal snacking on crackers.
The half-marathon started at 8:30AM, so I woke up at 5AM in order to eat a decent breakfast a good 2-3 hours before the run. Breakfast consisted of a bagel with one side peanut butter, one side jelly (because I’m indecisive), a fried egg, and a good old cup of coffee. I brought with me a banana to eat 30 minutes before the race for the last bit of energy boost.
The day of the run was pretty damn cold, with a real feel just hovering above 0°C, but I was just thankful that it was not raining like the weather forecast originally stated. The run itself went smoothly, except for the last 3-4 kilometers when my feet and ankles started to hurt. I pushed through and managed to use up all my energy to sprint the last couple of meters.
When I first signed up for the half-marathon, my goal was to complete the race under 2:30:00. As my training progressed, I felt like I could do better than that, so I decided to set my goal to under 2:00:00.
My time came in at 01:59:00, which I am super proud of considering this was my first half-marathon!
I definitely recommend anyone who is thinking of running a race to just go for it. A year ago, I thought 10k was already super far, and couldn’t even imagine running a half-marathon. But in the past month and a half, I definitely surprised myself with just how far (literally!) a bit of determination and motivation can go.