If I'm really honest, since finishing Paris Marathon last year I've not be that 'on it' when it comes to training. However much I enjoy running around outside, it's been a pretty low priority as my life has shifted and changed. So now term has ended, and life is a little more manageable, it's time to get focused again.
I've chosen the Royal Parks Half Marathon as the race where I get my running mojo back. Now you don't get focused over night, you need something to drive you. Luckily I've got two great motivators. Firstly, I'm running for Unicef UK, an organisation that does amazing work helping children in danger all over the world, and I hope to raise at least £400 to help them with their vital work. Secondly, I finally want to run a half marathon in less than two hours. I've come so close before, and I'd love to finally get there.
Smashing your goals needs careful planning, I'm following the Royal Parks Half Marathon Improvers training plan, put together by Advent Running's James Poole, an awesome coach who I trust to help me get to that elusive sub-2 time. The plan is 18 weeks long and, two weeks in, feels really pretty manageable - running five times a week and very gradually building up pace and distance. Having had some time out the gradual build up feels particularly important, the last thing I want is to over do things and get injured!
Oddly, starting a training plan in the run up to exams has been great. With lots of short runs in the early weeks nipping out for a 3 or 4 mile run becomes a great way to clear your head, and because life has been so structured it's been easy to fit runs in. In fact, it was only yesterday, once exams had ended, that I found myself skipping a run! Immediately after a particularly stressful period I always need to decompress and I find myself beyond tired, so no run for me. Today wasn't much better, I hauled myself round 5 painful miles with zero energy. It was pretty grim, but given all my other runs have been pretty good I reckon it'll improve.
Two weeks down and I'm looking forward to this challenge. I'm looking forward to doing more than coasting through a run. I'm looking forward to smashing my personal goals and getting that PB, and I'm looking forward to raising vital funds for an awesome charity.