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Mon, 04/02/2012

About The Benefits To Train For A Half Marathon - part 6

It is done. Another goal achieved. Another lesson learned. But most important, it was affirmed once again: it is possible, it only has to be done. Taking part in a running competition is for everyone, indeed.

Yes, last year when I ran my very first half-marathon I just did it. I did not think much, I only trained, got informed about the basics and set a simple goal: getting over the finishing line, no matter when, no matter how fast, no matter in what shape, no matter whether it would be on my legs or an all four. I had no experience with a competition but I knew not to be too fast and too bold in the beginning because that could cause problems with my energy level later on.

So I ran with the masses, let the flow take care of me and ran as fast as I felt I could manage. It worked perfectly. I mastered the course in under two hours which is excellent.

This year thinking and pondering set it. I tried to recall what I had learned last year, I tried to get more into what the right diet would be and I wondered how I would manage the course this time. Some of this was good, some not so much. Too much thinking blocks the way to your inner voice, to good judgment. Fortunately I did not lose it at all. I met a friend Friday night before the competition which one probably should not do because going out is not part of an athletes proper preparation for a competition. But then – I am no athlete but only a guy who likes to run once in a while because it makes me feel better.

And so it was fine and had no negative physical aftereffects. That only could be proof, that observing ones mental equilibrium is as important as the physical one. This is especially true while running. I have to confess that my biggest concern was that I would be slower as last year. That would have been horrible. So I ran a little bit faster in the beginning. That went well for more than half of the distance. But between kilometer 14 and 15 it became problematic. Fortunately a runner overtook me I had noticed a couple of kilometers before when I had overtaken her myself. She wore a canary yellow tank top and I was wondering whether that would not be too cold because it was not warm at all that day and there were ice-cold gusts of wind once in a while. When she overtook me I made her my pacemaker but two kilometers later I lost her. She was too fast. A little bit after kilometer 17 it got real hard for me and around kilometer 19 I actually started to think what would happen if I could not run any longer. But I forced myself and I was even able to gather enough strength to sprint the last couple of hundred meters.

And finishing the run was the biggest reward of all. Of course that I ran 11 minutes faster than last year made me really happy as well. Now I will work on my performance after kilometer 15 so that my energy and strength will last longer next time.

In the afternoon, I met a guy who ran the half-marathon in almost two and a half hours. For him running is fun and he does not care when he crosses the finishing line. He even stopped briefly to chat with friends along the course. He told me that right after the start two girls overtook him in a pace he considered as not healthy. Later he saw them again. They only lasted for nine kilometers. But this cannot be the idea of taking part in a competition.

Yes, the beauty about running is that you can do it to your own accord. If you like to run as fast as you can until you collapse you can do it, but it is more healthy to do it in a pace you feel comfortable with for the whole distance you chose to run that day. And when you get used to it than you can think about taking on a (small) competition just to see what you are able to achieve. You can take a competition at two ways. One: competing with others; second: competing with yourself. Since one most of the times will be disappointed when competing with others, it is in your hands when competing against yourself. Because this only means to get oneself to try out whether one could not be better this time or whether one could not achieve something more, as running a half-marathon instead of just running

in the park in circles.

If you want to run in a virtual community join the PGD International challenge on It is free and you can join even if you do not want to run the half-marathon or the marathon or if you do not have a fancy smartphone which tracks your route and time. Once joined you can comment and tell your own stories and experiences about running.

The challenge is not to take place in an actual competition. It was only created to cheer and support you while you train to get beyond your boundaries by giving you a goal: to run the half-marathon distance yourself whenever, wherever you feel like it. And who knows? Maybe we will run the Berlin Half-Marathon together next year. That would be fun.