Running a Half-Marathon | My Top Tips! *Requested*
This is a requested blog post. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked if I could share some tips for running a half-marathon. So I thought I'd do a post to get others started.
First off, let me say: I am not a qualified coach, nor am I a running guru! I am just a woman with a passion for running that has allowed me to push past my preconceived boundaries to achieve SO MUCH MORE.
Now that those house-keeping bits are out of the way:
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to run a half-marathon. Why? A friend of mine who had only started running very recently at the time had run one and she raved about it! I was shocked as I had not even thought of such a thing before that. I'll be honest, I didn't even know a half-marathon race distance existed! I thought it was 5K, 10K and those crazy Marathoners. Imagine my surprise when she danced over to me saying she'd had a blast finishing one and wanted to do another!
Well, my competitive streak had been held under for the last few years (we'll excuse medical school as we were all just pushing each other to do better, yadi yada) and I was able to pretend I was just curious to see if I could do it too. So I did the only logical thing I could think of: I ran a 10K to get that out of the way - I had only run a 5K race previously so I wanted to step up the distance.
It was the worst 10K race EVER! And oddly enough, I am so thankful that it was.
I started off too fast, (deleted sentence) and my feet were on FIRE by the halfway mark. Not in the good "Oh she's so fast" way - in the "I think I am going to combust from the soles up" way! I was at 16th position at 5K and decided (deleted word) to SLOW DOWN and let others pass me! I was (deleted word) praying for water (unheard of for me up till then) and found myself stopping and starting for the remainder of the race!
I actually ran a PB that day, but it taught me the difference between running the distance on my own on a Saturday and really RACING a 10K! As I crossed the finish line, I was thinking, "I'm never doing that again!" I only finished because I'd raised £400 for charity for which people had already paid me. I didn't want to feel like a fraud!
Guess what? A whole FIVE minutes later, I was saying to myself, "when I run the half-marathon, I have to raise more money or have someone cheering me on!" I realised then how much the crowd and marshals telling me I was “doing well” really helped me. I must have looked truly horrible but I'll take any encouragement I could get.
Why did I share this story first? It brought home to me the fact that to run a race, you have to TRAIN for it! This was what I took with me to the half-marathon distance.
That is where you must start: you must be prepared to TRAIN for your half-marathon. No causal jogging along shorter distances will suddenly make you able to run the whole thing in an amazing time! I know that adrenaline can do amazing things - see my first horrendous driving test (actually, let’s not) - but it won't make up for the fact that your body and mind are not prepared for the distance.
So that will be my first tip! I will expand on all of these below.
1Be prepared to train well.
2Long runs are important.
3Know your limits!
4Find a training plan you like.
5Stick to the plan!
*Bonus* Have fun with it!
Be prepared to train.
By this, I mean you must understand that, like all worthy endeavours, your goal will take some work. You need to run more regularly or use your current number of sessions per week more wisely. They must all be geared towards your goal of running a good first half-marathon. This is crucial for crossing the finish line without injury, complete exhaustion or losing your breakfast - trust me, I regularly see all three!
Long runs are important.
You will need to commit to at least one long run a week. This will need to be from the range of 7 miles to 11 miles. You can run a bit slower on these, but you need to make sure you are doing one a week so that your body is ready. It's also important to train your mind to manage running for that long.
Know your limits!
If you haven't run more than 5K before, don't sign up for a half-marathon in less than 8 weeks. You need time to build up to the race distance. I ran 10Ks and more on Saturdays for quite a while before venturing to that distance. The shortest training for people doing such running beforehand is about 4 weeks: I've asked around - even many guys (who often seem more (deleted words) able to do these things at the drop of a hat) have to do 4 weeks of more focused training.
The same goes for goal-setting: don't expect to do it just a little slower than the elite runners! You need to have an achievable goal that you can work up to! Something that makes you push THAT bit harder during the race.
Find a training plan you like.
Don't just pick the one your friend does. Especially if it doesn't appeal to your inner training voice - does it speak your language? To clarify, I mean do you feel at ease doing exactly what it says? I know myself, I don't like not knowing the exact distance I'm supposed to run. So those plans which speak in terms of minutes run were not for me. What if I ran for 2 hours and was still several miles short of what I should have covered in training? I pictured the nightmare of not being able to finish, let alone achieve my time goals.
However, I know my friend loved knowing how long to run for so she could just turn round at the halfway time-stamp and run home! Everyone is different. And there are plenty of plans out there! (Links to some of these at the end!)
Stick to the Plan!
Here I must add, "within reason". Allowing for unforeseen life and scheduling difficulties, you need to stick to your training plan. That seems to be what makes the difference between runners who do multiple races versus those who may find their inner racing "chip" well and truly fried after running a half- or full marathon! By ensuring that you carry out the key workouts for the week, you will be gearing yourself up for a greater chance of success: be it finishing the race or running it better than you dreamed.
Lastly, have fun with it!
This is a journey. A saying that always struck me as a child and probably made me fear marathons inordinately was, "Life is a marathon, not a sprint!"
You see, I'm more of natural sprinter - big surprise I'm Nigerian and played Hockey in secondary school. However, I've always been intrigued to see if I could also be as good a long distance runner. When I found it was all a matter of my thinking, I started chipping away at the wall I'd built in my mind.
You may be familiar with the building blocks of this wall: "I can't do it" or "I'm not built for distance" and "It's too late to start this now". Well, it's never too late to learn new tricks (see what I did there?). And you are the master or mistress of your own destiny. No one can tell you what you can't do. Only you can do that to yourself!
So above all, start believing that you can complete that half-marathon, and you're halfway there.
Thanks for reading my ramblings!
Below are links to training plans that I have encountered:
If you want my first training plan, it's from the book: 'Road Racing for Serious Runners. Multispeed training: 5K to Marathon!' by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. I followed Schedule A (under 30 miles a week at the start).
Fitness Magazine's 10-Week Half-Marathon Plans: here
Shape Magazine's 12-Week Half-Marathon Plans: here
NSPCC Beginner's 14-Week Half-Marathon Plan: here
Runner's World Half-Marathon Plans (10-14 Weeks): here
Later, Ladies and Gents!
Ps: Special Thanks to Steve for casting an expert eye over this write-up!
Travel with me | VIENNA
At the end of September, I went to Vienna.
My main excuse was a work thing - a Symposium.
In truth, I had wanted to go to Vienna for a very long time - for at least the last decade! Here are my thoughts on my brief time there - better late than never. I'll start with the flight, then our hotel stay and sightseeing before ending on the food- a high note as always!
I would be remiss if I did not firstly regale you of the drama that occurred in the air!
Athens Marathon 2016 : the Authentic!
I know you are all ready to re-live the experience with me. (Photos of actual race by Marathon Photo!)
I'll set the scene.....
Pre-dawn: found my way down to Syntagma Square (central Athens) and caught one of many air-conditioned buses to Marathon with my friend, K! Whilst enroute, we were reminded of the historic importance of this route and to drop off our bags promptly on arrival by a pre-recorded message in English and Greek. My friend and I ate some of our snacks on the way (Natural Energy Bars by Tribe and some fruit) whilst we took note of the gradient of the roads. Just how hilly was this going to be?
As the Sun peaked its head over the horizon, we arrived in Marathon and started making t-shirts out of waterproof plastic bags as we had to give up our long-sleeved jackets and trousers. The bag drop vans (by DHL) were ready and waiting to relieve us of our burdens.
The next order of business was to take numerous pictures: of the Marathon signs, the stadium, our national flags and with other competitors of note (see below). The latter included the Spartans from Poland who marched (and ran) as a troop with their spears, shields and swords!
Finally, it was time to get into our respective starting pens and take the Athlete's oath (first in Greek then English). Soon we were toeing the starting line and ...we were OFF!
Travel Blog- ATHENS
I finally achieved one of my five-year plan goals: merging my love of travel with my love of running. This was meant to have also happened back in October with the Lisbon Half-Marathon but....too tired to travel at that point.
So I went to Athens, Greece for the Authentic Marathon 2016!
I arrived at Athens International on Thursday 10th of November around 3pm and made my way to the metro station. After standing in two wrong queues for machines that either were not for the Metro (#1) or not working (#2), I chanced to meet 2 lovely ladies from USA who had flown in from Germany. Let's call them K and H! K was also going to run the Marathon (yes!) and H was there for moral support.
As we got on the Metro, we realised we weren't too far from each other centrally (Air BnB for them, Acropolis Select Hotel for me!) - so we decided to explore Athens together. This was definitely part of the Serendipity of this trip.
I'll split this post now into my hotel, the restaurants and the sights. My training will be sprinkled in but the main blog post for my Marathon experience will be a separate one.
How have you all been, ladies and gentlemen?
So I thought a good old catch-up on life and HAIR was in order. First bombshell:
I moved to Cardiff!
Yep, I'm still reeling in shock too! lol!
And I'm totally living the Crochet twist life!
I think once I get hands on the fluffy braid version ...it's ON! I'll be all up in here crocheting everything! I haven't even tried the twist-out version of this hair style!
So yes, I'm protective styling because I love this style so much and I get to keep an eye on my own hair and scalp!
The best part, I'm getting used to big hair!
I might start trying out braid-outs and twist-outs again on my own hair (stretched of course!).
So here's a video on the style I am loving and how Cardiff is treating me so far.
Have you tried out Crochet Twists? How did you find them?
I watched a fellow YouTuber, Borderhammer's video on being careful with the dreadlock version of this style: too heavy for fine natural hair types. I have been duly warned!
Hey ladies and gents!
I thought I'd catch you up on my Marathon day journey and what I've been up to since. And what better way than a good ole' chinwag via YouTube? lol!
Yes, you guessed it! I went to Copenhagen, Denmark!
Why? You ask... Why not? I'd never been there and we figured we should get a fresh perspective on the New Year. So we went in February! lol! (More pictures below!)
Seriously though! We were just so excited to have a great deal to travel and Air B'n'B, that we signed up and went back to work.
Only to realise as the day grew closer that YES, we are travelling to another COLD country and we are sightseeing! *yikes*
The trip was very early in the morning (another thing about cheap tickets!) and we were suitably tired on arrival in the colourful, bike-filled city! We managed to eventually by train tickets out of the airport to the centre of town and we walked from the station to our new digs. And walked around the block in the wrong direction! Yep, sleep-deprivation does that to you!
Finally, we were welcomed warmly by our hostess' housemate, M who pointed us to the room where we ooh'd and aah'd about the space and the view (over a beautiful river parted by a statuesque bridge)! Our hostess (also an M) joined us soon and we were encouraged to do a bit of exploring with the aim of finding food nearby.
Well, we found a lovely Turkish restaurant where we were served a portion that could have fed 3 or 4 people (but we handled it well, doggy bag please!). Humus, Tzatziki, Falafel balls, Bread and 3 types of salad with a side of ....crisps! Yummy!
Then we did what any two jet-setting women would do: went home to catch some Z's!
I won't give you a play by play of the next 2 days! Here are the highlights:
1) Went to Manfreds and tried a 7-course taster menu with a naughty Red wine (for my friend of course...I'm a good girl!) and felt thoroughly stuffed!
2) Ran 8-miles around Copenhagen on the Saturday morning to afternoon to see the "Little Mermaid" statue, a Star-shaped castle and battlements and Christiania (a commune-style dwelling with alternative market stalls and bars! Hipster haven, perhaps? It's found in Christianshavn)
3) Went to a Jazz Festival show at the ... and ate them out of Peanuts (kidding, they had loads left)!
4) Ate at Maven, a posh restaurant which gave us steak and chips! Yep, you can take us out of England...hmmm!
5) Ran another 14 miles on the Sunday morning (I had to, I'm in training!). I also bounced mid-run on a set of Trampolines in the centre of town!
6) Enjoyed looking at the canals and eating out at the Market stalls which stocked pretty yummy deli foods.
So, I feel it was a good trip but next time, we're going in Summer!
Although the same temperature as London, it was just too cold to be fully immersed in the atmosphere! We needed more than one sunny day (the day we arrived) and we wouldn't have seen had as much without the running we did (to keep warm as well).
Have you been to Copenhagen or some other part of Denmark? How did you find it?
Have you been anywhere this year (other than your home town)?
In other news, I'm running the London Marathon at the end of April (24th to be exact).
I am raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support who provide counselling and so much more to people with a diagnosis of cancer.
Please do sponsor me and follow my training journey on my Youtube channel!
Sponsorship page: www.virginmoneygiving.com/lolaruns
See you in the next instalment! (pictures below)
Ps: check out the "Lola Bakes" blog for all things food and cakes!
Recipe | Jolly Jammers!
So it's the New Year and here we are with another recipe!!!
Jammy Dodgers, Jolly Jammers, whatever you call them, they are yummy! Time for you to make something at home that you'd probably bought as a child in the shops. And it's so easy! (I WOULD say that!)
100g Unsalted Butter, softened
100g Caster sugar
200g Plain flour plus extra for dusting
1/4 Cream of Tartar
110g Icing sugar, sifted
30g Unsalted Butter, softened
10ml Whole Milk
Couple drops of Vanilla Extract
25-30g of smooth strawberry Jam
Equipment: 3 1/2cm (1 1/12in) round, fluted cookie cutter, 1cm (1/2in) piping nozzle, 2 piping bags
Vancouver | A Girly Guide!
I promised a Part 2 so here it is!
Since I stayed in Vancouver for the majority of my visit to Canada, I thought I would make the rest of it about this beautiful city.
Let me warn you first:
Although most people say the weather is "similar to London, UK," it isn't! It's quite a bit colder - at least it was for my time here in late November!
I went outdoors for a run a couple of times but I'll be honest:
I was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G!
Minus 4 Celsius most mornings! I am not built to withstand those temperatures! I am AFRICAN! lol! So, I bundled up like an eskimo on my last run. I was also very afraid of falling on the frost-covered walking paths. I totally broke the rules a little and ran on the cycling path for some of my Seaside run (shhh, don't tell anyone!).
In between those outdoor adventures, I gave into the indoor swimming pool at the hotel (25m and not deep) and the gym downstairs - ran my 5K then played on the elliptical machine! And who wouldn't say yes to the Hot Tub (deserted), Sauna and Steam rooms (great for hair conditioning sessions)?
I even planned to try Ice Skating for the first time in my life.... only to find that the rink opposite Nordstrom wasn't yet open. =(
*I have to add here: Canadians are MAD about ICE HOCKEY! There was always some mention of Hockey and even the walk through exhibit at Canada Place had Ice Hockey cutouts to stick your face behind! Okay, I've done my bit for the national sport. lol!*
I did get up to a lot more walking adventures, so check out what I got up to below! (Pictures galore!)
My first stop was to properly explore what Stanley Park had on offer.
Discover Canada | A Girly Guide!
So this month (November 2015 in case you are tuning in later), I ventured to the other side of the world...at least it feels like that!
I'm in Canada!
You may have noticed the snow-filled backdrops of some of my recent Instagram posts. lol!
Visiting a friend in Calgary (Alberta), Canada then we quickly headed to Vancouver (British Colombia) for the remainder of my week here.
So far, I've seen snow (oh so cold in the mountains of Banff), light drizzle (welcome to Vancouver) and Sunny days (oddly enough, Banff and Vancouver). We have been really lucky with the weather being around 1 to -2 Celsius most days. In Calgary it was a lot colder but that is neither here nor there.
Here are some highlights so far (pictures below):
Hi, I'm Lola!
A self-confessed hair addict! On here, I share my hair journey and my inspiration.
I' m more than my hair though: I will also share food and body product recipes that I love!
Ps: you'll also find the occasional product review thrown in!
Email me at email@example.com
Pictures: I do not own the copyright to all the pictures. Hence, I will credit the source.