Monday, 17 March 2014

Paris Half-Marathon 2014

After weeks of training in the cold and miserable weather, weeks of running alongside the Seine towards the sparkling Eiffel tower and weeks of turning down mid-week socialising, I have finally done it. I have run the whole 21.1k of the Paris Half Marathon 2014. Halla-freaking-luyah!!!!!! I have been waiting a mighty long time to say that!

 This time about a year ago, I sat down with Adam to watch the London Marathon on the tv and I remember being so incredibly jealous. They all looked so excited, there was such a high buzz and when they finished that had actually achieved something unbelievable. I swore there and then that I would do something similar.

It must have been about October time that I excitably called up the parents announcing I was running the Paris Half Marathon 2014. I was ecstatic. Knowing I had paid for it myself (a good €50 is well out of a stagiare's budget) I was determined to put my all in. I don't deal with disappointment particularly
well and I knew I'd beat myself up about it later if I didn't do as well as I could.

However as you can evidently see from the above picture... this motivation slowly dies away and running in the cold and wet after a hard day at work is the last thing I wanted,. Returning home at 7:15pm, I would run straight up to my room, holler a quick Coucou at Maya, whip on my running gear and leave the flat before I could even think twice about what I was going to do.

The weather was far from this beautiful the majority of the time and I would regularly turn down many- a drink in order to stick to my fairly strict 4-times a week run. For those of you who are considering running a half marathon soon I would highly recommend the following schedule:

This provides a pretty standard running schedule for beginner runners. Obviously running on a Friday night is going to present a bit of a challenge so often I would be a bit cheeky and shuffle the running days around.

I'd like to consider myself a pretty motivated and determined person. Despite this, these qualities would often slide. Because of this, I thought I would give you a few tips that I learned along the way to keep me going:

1) Buy some good trainers (like the beaut ones above)
I was lucky enough to receive these beaut trainers from Adam for Christmas and thank my sweet Gran for that. Shin Splits are nasty buggers so good trainers are a must.

2) Get some Good Beats
Whatever tickles your fancy, get yourself a good playlist. This may seem like a pretty straightforward idea - it's not often you see a runner without his or her staple headphones. But one vital thing that got me going through was to play the playlist in the same song-order each time. You may get bored, you may want to change but I guarantee you it'll help as it will keep your mind in order and help you concentrate. I would always start with 'Ways to Go- Grouplove', pass the Notre Dame at 'Happy-Pharrell Williams', cross over Ile de Saint Louis with Californiacation- Red Hot Chilli Peppers' and end up at my front door to 'Summer Memories-Henri Pfr' for my usual 5 mile run. Knowing that each song should come up in a certain order means you will push yourself that extra bit more to keep on target. You may not have a pace tracker but you can track yourself using your tunes. See below for my Half Marathon Playlist:

3) Get a Running Tracking App
Stop. Don't scroll down just yet. I have found a FREE running app that worked like an absolute gem, Run Keeper. It was so unbelievably reliable, told me exact distance, calories and GPS-ed me in case I got lost. Also you get a little email from some friendly chap called Adam telling me I've done a great job. Top Bloke and Top App.

4) Don't think about it
You know before when I was mentioning I didn't even let myself sit down when I got back from work? Yeah, that's what I mean when I say don't think about it. Don't even give your brain time to think what you're doing, Just do it. I hate to use the Nike catch phrase, but they're so blooming right. You will actually feel worse sitting on the sofa riddled with guilt then you would be if you just went out and ran for half an hour. Honestly, the number of times I would be running down my 4 flights of stairs, just about to open my door and want to turn around. What I would always tell myself though is that even after 2 minutes of running I have already got further than I was 2 minutes ago, I'm already off. Too late to turn back then. Plus it's super embarro after pedestrians see you just turn right back around. Spare yourself the shame and keep going.

5) Treat yourself
The best thing about running? You can eat whatever you want. Literally anything. The longest (12 miles) run I did before the big day (March the 3rd) was a Sunday morning. I had promised Maya I would make Daddy's Famous Pancakes for brunch so before I headed out I made the batter so that it would have rested for nearly a good 2 hours before I started cooking them. I cannot say I ran faster than that morning. I don't know if that's a sign that this pancake recipe is so good or I'm a massive fatty, or even both. But one thing I can guarantee is that food is a very good incentive. This is 10x better when you live in a city where Boulangeries are as common as pubs.

The finally and possibly biggest tip for running is to have an incentive. I decided to set up a Virgin Giving page so that people could easily donate. Rather than handing physical cash (which is virtually impossible seeing as I'm abroad), family and friends can donate the money via an online transaction.

I chose Virgin Giving over Just Giving as I could choose to represent two charities instead of one, and the funds would be split equally between the two. I chose to raise money for two charities, the first of which is really well known and the second probably not so much.

Cancer Research UK and The Princess Trust are two incredible charities and I was so proud to have represented them on March the 3rd. This was probably the biggest incentive to keep going. As soon as I received my first donation, I knew s*** got serious. I also knew that I had the potential to change both children and adult's lives alike. I cannot think than a bigger incentive to run than that.

Please do, if you have a minute, check out my fundraising page:

Thank you so much for everyone who supported me, both there and then on the day in the sunshine and for those who donated money online. It really means a lot to me, and unbelievably I had such a great time doing it. Despite some photographic evidence, I felt I was grinning all the way around. It was a pleasure to be surrounded by some many people who had trained equally as hard and who were raising money for such great causes. I was so so thrilled to have finished 10 minutes under my target, at 1 hour 50 minutes and hope that next year I'll be able to beat even this. I'll keep you posted on that one.....first step is moving from my bed!
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