Runner's High: Climbing to 21.1km

My first disclaimer is that half marathons are not easy, and they are no joke. That being said, running 21.1km is attainable with proper training, diet and mental strength! This past week I ran my first official half marathon race in just over two hours after a four-month training journey and 5 races leading up to this one. I completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half marathon, a goal that has been on my bucket list for the past few years. Here are some of the things I learned while training!

Pick your poison

It's important to pick your focus when training for a half marathon from one of the following three areas: distance, speed, and weekly kilometres. Trying to increase all three of these aspects at once is counterproductive and increases your risk of injury. If you’ve never done the half marathon distance before its important to focus on building up to this distance. This can be done by following many available twelve-week training plans on platforms such as Strava or simply do 2 short runs: 1 tempo run, a day of cross-training (i.e. a working that doesn’t involve running such as weight training or spin class) and a long run with a 0.5-1km increase per week. In training for this race, I focused on distance, as I had only once previously run 21.1k, during which I made multiple pitstops for water, therefore I wanted to develop the endurance to do this distance continuously.

Find your support system

Training can feel mentally and physically taxing, however, developing friends in your local running community can help you push through difficult runs and keep you motivated to train. Many athletic stores such as The Running Room, Lululemon, Asics, and Black Toe offer run groups that accept runners at all levels. Through running with Lululemon’s Eaton Centre, Cumberland, and Queen Street West run crews, as well as Asics Canada’s run club I met amazing people who support me through my training, race alongside me, and who have become some of my closest friends.

Consistency and Recovery

Consistent training through running and cross-training is essential to building up your endurance and/or pace for a half marathon. Training should occur a minimum of four times a week for maximum results. That being said, building in recovery is necessary when you’re increasing your kilometres and activity per week, in order to prevent injury. It's important to warm up and cool down through dynamic stretching and exercise following your workouts. Further, it's important to schedule in a rest day where no strenuous activity occurs- these are great days to participate in activities like yoga to work on breathing and flexibility.

Keep Yourself Motivated!

Waking up at 7 am to run or rushing off to run crew when I had looming assignments and midterms coming up didn’t always feel great. However, during my training process, I used little incentives to keep myself motivated. For example, I’d reward myself with new running gear after hitting personal records during races. Finding little healthy ways to reward yourself while training is a great way to enjoy a difficult process. For you, this may take the form of purchasing new athletic clothes or running shoes every once in a while, enjoying a post-race/run meal at your favourite restaurant, or a fun new type of workout class.

Running a half marathon may feel like an impossible task, and during the race itself, your body may feel pushed to the limit. But nothing is more satisfying than crossing the finish line after 21.1 kilometres of hustling! 

*all images are my own. 

Edited by Tasmiyah Randeree