Some yeses are more fun than others. Grub club, book club, live music, travel – all of these Yeses enable us to try new things, live life more fully, but most of all, we have a lot of fun doing them.
Then there are the Yeses that make us push our comfort zones, or go way past them and the Silverstone Half Marathon was one of those.
After our “fun” traithlon last summer, Emma, Sara and I immediately signed up to the Silverstone Half Marthon to ensure that the Year of the Yes carried on into a brand new year, and to give ourselves something else to work towards.
We had 9 months to train, and get ourselves from being able to run 5km, to being able to run over 20km – easy right!? We signed up for the Birmingham 10km run, which took place in September, as a stepping stone to the Half Marathon, found ourselves a training plan and dug out our running shoes once more. Now, I’m not saying it was easy, but it was achievable, and we felt pretty good having completed it and doubled our running distance – just another 10km to go and we’d be at our goal.
But then, we slipped slightly, didn’t keep up the running, and soon it was December and we were nearing the 12 week point to the Silverstone Half, which meant another training plan was due to start.
To give ourselves a post Christmas kick up the bum, we signed up for the gruelling Gayton 10km – a hellish, and hilly late January run in the absolute freezing cold. But once again we (just about) did it, and we were back on track for the Half.
For me, the training from that point got tough. Running long distance, is a big commitment on your time, it can be dull, and it hurts! But we had each other for moral support, and managed to power on through until race day.
We arrived at Silverstone circuit, bright and early on a freezing cold Sunday morning, kitted out in our new Year of the Yes emblazoned ACT t shirts, ready to go. After a bit of hanging around in the cold, and some words of encouragement from our frozen supporters we made our way to the start line.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling you get being amongst thousands of other runners, with their own stories and reasons for running – emotions are high, and it’s pretty overwhelming.
The race wasn’t easy, in fact it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and pushed me to extremes, both mentally and physically.
The organisation up at Silverstone was great – at no point did it feel like I was one of 10,000 people up there – but there was quite a lot of hanging around in the morning. The music around the course, definitely helped to spur us on as did the spectator areas, where we saw glimpses of our supporting friends and family. Obviously we had each other throughout the race (and I certainly wouldn’t have got through it without my Year of the Yes partner in crime), but it did feel lonely out there at times, and it would have been nice to have more spectator areas – particularly towards the end when morale is low.
But having said that, seeing our friends and family in the last few hundred metres, gave us all the encouragement we needed for a sprint to the finish line.
We did it, we raised over £1000 (and you can still donate here), and I’ve never been prouder of us. So, now a few weeks off to rest our broken bodies, then onto our bikes for the next challenge… at least we get to sit down this time!
Our half marathon tips – for the running novice!
- Have a training plan – this one comes with a caveat – it is very dependent on the type of person you are, on knowing your body, and doing what is right for you (which means leaving enough time in your training to work that out). But I found having a training plan, both for this and the triathlon, invaluable. I completely went from nothing so I needed the distances to aim for each time. It also meant I was more likely to get out on my training runs, because I had a target to hit. I shopped around for a plan that suited me though, so it’s worth doing your research. And make sure you are realistic about what you can fit in… saying yes to pushing your comfort zones shouldn’t mean sacrificing the fun stuff to train.
- Sign-up to organised, shorter runs – Again, this kept me focused. We had about 9 months from signing up to the race, and it would have been easy to leave all the hard work to the last 12 weeks, but by booking in some 10k runs we kept up the momentum, knew that we could hit some of the longer distances, and then the final target seemed closer in sight.
- Remember that your mind gives in before your body – I used to try and repeat this to myself on the longer runs, when it was really painful and all I wanted to do was stop. The truth is it is always more comfortable to stop than carry on, but if you can show your mind you can do it once, it gives you the extra edge each time – because you know that you can push through that pain. After all, it’s only putting one foot in front of the other… *ahem*.
I actually wrote a pre-race blog post for Avon Connects, so if you want to read more thoughts on taking the steps to a challenge like this, you can find it here.
- Run with friends – I think the reasons behind our runs, and the fact that we don’t do this particularly seriously, makes it important to run with others. I know that I was so much more likely to get out of bed and go for a run, knowing that I’d planned one with Emma, or Sara. Friends can make the long, boring runs much easier to get through, and they can share in the sense of achievement that you get when you hit those long run targets. Even though he hasn’t taking part in any of our organised runs, Miles has been a great running partner / trainer / support too.
- Invest in equipment – A good pair of trainers is a must to get through the longer runs and to prevent injury. Although it pained me that my trainers cost more than my wedding shoes (who’d have thought it, hey) I know how important it is. Likewise, kitting yourself out with breathable running clothes and a high vis tops for running in the dark will help to keep you comfortable and safe when you are out training.
Make this one of your yeses
It was tough, there is no denying that, but the sense of pride when you cross the finish line after running distances that you never even thought you would contemplate covering without the aid of a car is tremendous.
If you are even mildly considering taking on the challenge, you should take a look at some of the events coming up over the next 12 months, and consider adding it to your yes list… But remember, give yourself enough time to do it justice, and the world could be your oyster.