Saturday 10 August 2013

Can you train for a half marathon in 4 weeks? I hope so!

I've never won anything. Well, nothing that counts; a tenner on the lotto doesn't really count as 'winning' - you need the whole £7.5 million-odd in my eyes. So, yeah, nothing. I enter competitions fully expecting never to hear back again, which is exactly what I thought when I entered a Women's Fitness competition by VitaCoco UK to win entry to the Nike Run to the Beat half marathon - London's 'music marathon' - and a month's supply of coconut water. 

Lo and behold: I won! This means that I have exactly 4 weeks to get half-marathon fit from never EVER having run further than 15K, and that was 6 years ago. Oh. Dear.

Fortunately, before I even knew I'd won the competition, I'd been offered a place at a Run to the Beat track-training session at Battersea Park Arena on 10/08/13, which was organised by Nike Running UK and advertised on their Facebook page last week. 'Perfect way to kickstart the training!

I'd been pre-warned by Nike Master Trainer Gil Cramer (Coach G) that it was going to be a tough session *gulp!* but I thought, what the hey: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that...

I cycled down to the track  - which, as will be come apparent, was a bad idea - on Saturday morning, raring to go. Seeing a lot of fit-looking (and I mean that solely in the fitness sense. honest.) people hovering around a track that is a lot bigger than I remember from school days, the butterflies began. 

Battersea Park Millenium Arena
What was I thinking?! A track-training session with no half-marathon training whatsoever?! Fortunately I started talking to the lovely Josie, who it turned out also won a place on RttB thanks to VitaCoco, and we calmed each others nerves a little. 

Gil and some of the other Nike trainers, including the awesome Gemma (aka Good to Tone PT. Ladies: if you're looking for an inspirational fitness role model, then look no further!) talked us through the plan for training. We got in to a 'warm up' of dynamic hip-flexor stretching (ouch! but in a strangely nice way), planks, sprints, high-knees, squat-jumps and a 3min tempo run. No, your eyes do not deceive you,  I did say 'warm up'.

We were then split into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced groups. Although I'd normally be the first to throw myself at the beginner group, 'sprints' was mentioned a lot, and I have a strong aversion to the 's' word. So I opted for the Intermediate group as the word 'pyramid runs' sounded much more fun. 

Wrong! This is what a pyramid run involved:

200m sprint, 200m jog
300m sprint, 100 walk
400m sprint, 400m jog
200m sprint, 200m jog
400m sprint, 400m jog
300m sprint, 100m walk
200m sprint, die on grass at side of track.

Despite feeling like my heart was about to explode out of my chest and my legs jellifying on the second 400m sprint, I managed. The training I did as a teenager for 400m and 800m really came back to me, and I actually sort of enjoyed it. Albeit only a tiny little bit. And only well after I'd stopped running. Specifically, when I was at home with a glass of wine and feeling smug.

Cool down time (thank god!) and a chance to guzzle some VitaCoco and some snacks provided by Kaffiene. Josie and I also got chatting to some other girls at the session including the lovely Jen, and Em of lunges & lycra, about training, running and triathlons. We chatted to the organisers of Run to the Beat, who were telling us about the training runs on a Monday night in Box Park: info can be found on the Run to the Beat Facebook page. 

Jen, me and Josie at the track
I also spoke to super-coach G about my 4-week training plan - or lack thereof. His advice at this late stage was to get in long runs on a Sunday, as that's the day I'll be racing, with maybe one or two shorter runs in the week, but also to mix my training up with a bit of swimming and strength training (specifically, only running 3 times a week). I already do 10K most Sundays, so I just need to extend that out over the next few weeks and hope for the best!! It's slowly starting to sink in that 4 weeks today and I'll be running my first ever half marathon... *deep breathing to avoid panic attack* 

Oh yeah, the cycle home was pretty painful! I really need to rest my legs tonight so I'm ready for Gemma's NTC class at Clapham Common tomorrow morning. Given the way that the past week has gone, 'Jump in at the deep end' should be my middle name!

Thanks to Vita Coco again from Josie & me - we are really look forward to it despite the mild panic of last minute training!

Katy | City Girl Fit

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