Half marathon training – and eating more coco pops than you ever thought possible

I made three New Year’s resolutions this year. They went like this:

1. I will paint more, and better, than I ever have before

2. I will start to learn German

3. I will run a half marathon

My first task has been fairly easy to get to work on. I’ve set up several new portraits which are now starting to transform into something – it’s too early to say if they will emerge as boys, girls, or butterflies yet. As always, if you haven’t already you can check out my work at http://www.helenmaryperkins.com

Secondly, I signed up to my German class, where Dorothea is taking me through the wonders of German grammar with several other multi-culture-wannabees, while feeding us stollen and brandishing tense homework upon everyone (homework that helps you differentiate verbs – not homework that literally makes you tense…although). More on that later.

Finally, after all that snow-sky-snot got out the way, I got my trainers out the cupboard and stared long and hard at them.

This is me. Fortunately I'm just a blur caught on Chris' camera, rather than a fully focused, giraffe-like runner with a pained expression and a gait like Dumbo.

I should be perfectly fine to run a half marathon. It’s only 13 miles after all – that’s…well, not very far. I’ve been a pretty active person for the last few years, as far as swimming and running go. And I don’t eat KFC family buckets to myself. Forty-seven-year-old Eddie Izzard ran 43 marathons in 51 days for Sports Relief, so there really is no excuse.

Still, I’m hardly an athlete. I clearly remember Lizzie Carter telling me I ran like a giraffe in year 8 – because, as they say, an elephant never forgets. My previous idea of exercise was 33 lengths (half a mile) in a pool or about 20 minutes (about a mile) jogging round the houses. To make 13 I realise I am going to have to step it up a bit. So in 2010 I started to do a couple of half hour runs in the week and a long Sunday morning run at the weekend. Today this was 8 miles – roughly the distance from the far end of Lancaster town to the University and back again.

Here is what all my miles so far have taught me:

The worst part of running is the middle third. During the first third you’re not tired and during the last third you know you’re going to make it. But you need good music or a nice view for the middle third.

You will see loads of wildlife and be grateful that you made the effort. Bluetits, chickens, nuthatches, squirrels. Sometimes foxes. These will be real, live wildlife, unless you choose the M6 as your route.

Other runners will smile and say hey to you and inside you will feel like part of some weird, masochistic brethren. This is, I believe, one of the best reasons to run. I think, secretly, Wordsworth was a runner.

As 1912 Olympian George S Pattron said: “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” I don’t know him but he sounds like a pretty scary guy.

Despite George’s inspiring words you will still gaze longingly at several bus stops on your route home and consider catching a lift back.

The next day you will be stiff and your body will tell you that this George is a deluded prat.

An hour after running you will start to feel hungry and you will then attempt tp consume everything within reach. This afternoon during what I like to call ‘recovery time’ I consumed no less than: two tuna sandwiches, a chocolate yazoo milkshake, half of one of those Soreen loaf things, a large bowl of coco pops, a 200g bag of peanuts, a curry with wraps, two yoghurts, two apples and a banana. Soon I will go and check out what else we’ve got. Like a pregnant woman, I have even started craving foods I previously despised. Peanut butter? Gouda cheese? (As a note: Chris, if you’re reading this I am definitely not pregnant and I’m sorry I’ve finished off your coco pops)

Despite spending most of the run wondering why on earth you do it, as soon as you see the house you will think ‘that wasn’t bad at all, I’ll definitely go further next week!’

I’m so amateur it’s almost funny. If anyone (especially Eddie Izzard) has tips, quotes, biscuits to speed me on my way to 13 miles let me know.

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3 Responses to “Half marathon training – and eating more coco pops than you ever thought possible”

  1. You’ve been sending me some traffic. I enjoy that very much. 😉

    I happen to be a runner and am excited for your half marathon venture. I’m in the process of training for my 4th marathon.

    Good luck!

    • 4th marathon! That’s amazing. I’ll have to keep reading your blog for some tips and inspiration.
      Thanks very much, it’s great to hear there are other people out there who are also going for it…even if they are literally miles ahead of me!

      best of luck

  2. Hey! This is a great blog, my friend and I have actually just started training for the Chester Marathon this year and to hear the stories of other people going through a similar experience is actually really motivating! You can find our blog here and I’d be keen to here what you think 🙂

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