It feels like such a long time ago that I wrote my post all about the reasons that I signed up to run a half marathon. Finally, 3 months later the big day itself is looming and in the run up to the race I have come to realise a few things.
I think the main thing that has become apparent to me is that although I first signed up with the predominant intention of completing the distance, there is so much more to training for a race than the race itself. Yes, that will be a great way to mark the culmination of my training and to show how I’ve improved as a runner but it is what has happened in the lead up to the race and also what will happen afterwards that is important; there are so many wider implications.
Over the last few months I have undergone both a mental and physical journey. It sounds so cliche but there isn’t really any other way to say it. There have been days when I have wanted to sack it all in, when I have ached so much and been extremely exhausted – fitting in runs in the evenings after work has been tiring! There have been times when I didn’t feel up to the challenge. However, there have also been moments when I have felt so incredibly empowered. Completing an extra mile, getting a new fastest average pace, running up a hill and not collapsing in a heap at the top… The list goes on. There really is nothing more amazing than feeling your strength and fitness improving and watching as you do things you once thought completely out of your reach. There is still a lot of room for improvement but comparing where I am now to the runner I was back in May is so inspiring and it makes me never want to stop. I completed a 10k race as part of my training plan as I wanted to see what it would be like. I managed to get a great personal best and although it was tough and I really pushed myself, the sense of achievement afterwards was incredible!
The positive affects of exercise on the mind are also often talked about. It is easy to over look these types of things but I now completely understand where these people are coming from. Running has become essential now for me to have some time to just get out there on my own, clear my mind and let off some steam. The endorphin release is incredible and I truly believe that running regularly has made me much happier in general. Not that I was unhappy before, just like everyone I have good and bad days, but I have become much more content on an every day basis. I now crave that time that I get to myself, outside, just me and my headphones. I think that’s another great thing about running, after some good trainers, you really don’t need anything else other than yourself and somewhere to run!
I think one of the best things that has come out of this is that I can now say that I love running. This time last year when I gave it up after forming such a bad relationship with it, I never would have thought that I could grow to love it the way that I do now. It is all about shifting the focus and running to complete new distances, attain personal bests but most importantly because it makes you feel good.
So, although the race on Sunday is still a big deal for me, I have taken away the pressure to get the perfect time and instead I want to go and enjoy the run. I want the race to signify the positive changes that have come about since taking up running and what this form of exercise now means to me. It will be hard both physically and mentally, but I am ready for the challenge. It really is still only the beginning and this weekend marks the start of hopefully many more. Running has become an essential part of my lifestyle and I am just so happy that I re-discovered it!
As well as the importance of training days, I have learnt the importance of rest. Rest days are imperative for recovery and maximising performance. I now always take a few days off before my longer runs and this works so well for me. I have also started taking baths after these longer runs to allow my muscles the chance to relax and heal. The Bathstore are trying to encourage people to give themselves time to themselves again amongst the hustle and bustle of life, whether you’re training for something like I’ve been doing, working long hours, looking after a family or anything else! We are all so busy and this time to wind down is so important.
I was sent over an amazing Bathstore bubble break package to help me reclaim my bathroom time and this worked perfectly with my half marathon recovery. I am completely in love with my new rubber duck! When you’ve got a bath bomb, a face mask, a gorgeous smelling candle and some body lotion for after, you are looking at some ultimate relaxation time and that is certainly what it was! I loved my Bathstore bath 🙂
I will definitely be enjoying something very similar after my race this Sunday!
Make sure you take time out to reclaim your bathroom time too 🙂
*I was sent this pamper pack as part of the bathstore’s campaign to reclaim your bathroom time