Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Running the Hackney Half… without training

God that person writing that post below was feeling a little serious wasn’t she?!

Something a bit more cheerful now as I want to share my experience of running the Hackney Half this weekend, without proper training as we’d only done a few (OK one) 5 mile practise run in the month running up to the race (best laid plans...)

The night before I was literally feeling sick with anxiety about the whole thing. After reading a lot of running blogs online I was convinced that we were going to die, having never run further than 5 miles in one go and the day itself predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far.

We woke up at 6am and I spent a few seconds trying to get my brain into focus and remember what it was about today that was different from normal. Thunk. There wasn’t time to think about it too much as we had breakfast (toast and a banana), got our kit on and left. It was a beautiful morning, and as we cycled to Hackney marshes in t-shirts and running shorts you could tell it was going to be HOT.

We arrived at the race village at around 7.30 to pick up our race numbers, drop off our bags and hydrate before the race. Nervous about the heat, I drunk loads of water and had to use the bathroom about 4 times before the race began! 

We got to the starting like at 9am, along with hundreds of others, which was a bit anticlimactic as we had to wait another 30 mins for the race to actually begin.

The race itself…

The first three or so miles flew by, there was a brilliant atmosphere with spectators cheering us on, and it wasn’t too hot (yet). At around mile 4 we had our first energy gel and plodded on at a reasonable pace. On our previous runs we had been averaging just over a 9 min mile but on this day I made a conscious effort to pace myself.

I had predicted that I would start struggling around mile 7 or 8 but as we ran along Broadway Market I still felt like I had a bit of juice left. I slurped another energy gel anyway, to be sure.

Mile 10. Mile 10 was when shit started getting real. It was HOT by this point, and there didn’t seem to be any shade anywhere. The Olympic Park at Stratford was in sight and with my geography of East London not being particularly sharp, it felt like we still had ages to go. At this point I allowed myself to think about the finish line, getting my medal and lying down in the sun with a beer.

We didn’t stop to walk at any point in the race, but those last three miles were tough. Along the course we saw about 15 people being treated by paramedics!

We crossed the finish like at 2hrs27mins, and I have literally never felt so relieved as I did when I could finally stop running! The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the sun on London fields and feeling smug.

And after the race?

Besides from that evening when exhaustion kicked in and I passed out around 9pm, things could definitely have been worse. The next day, despite the 10 or so hours sleep, I was very sore and dehydrated, it felt like a terrible hangover. I worked from home, rehydrated myself and stretched out my legs and by some miracle felt almost recovered by Tuesday.

Standing on my toes because it made my legs hurt less!


I definitely don’t think running a half marathon without any training is a good idea, but depending on your general level of fitness I think that this demonstrates that it IS possible. I don’t know how much worse it would have been if I didn’t cycle everyday, or run occasionally, or maybe it’s just being 23.

Either way, I’m keen to try running another to see how it compares!

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