On Monday the 25th June, I received a phone call from my manager telling me that Garmin wanted to work with me on their next campaign- It was going to involve their new watch and Garmin Ambassador Kelly Holmes. Before I had any idea what I was going to have to do, I had already said yes… and then he dropped the bomb; ‘Yeah so all you have to do is run a half marathon (The Great North Run) in 10 weeks and document it…’. I’m not going to lie, my tummy did a couple of back flips at that moment, but I knew that if I wanted to inspire other people to do ‘hard things’ and overcome their greatest fears, then I had to lead by example.
The most I had ever run before was 10k, however, I was just under 3 weeks out from my first sprint triathlon, which I feel set me off to a good start with my training.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dame Kelly Holmes right at the beginning of my training, who gave me some amazing tips on how to tackle my run training, and I received my Garmin VivoActive 3 Music to track every session- basically, I knew I was in good hands!
I’m going to be honest, running didn’t bring much pleasure to me, so I found my self accidentally swapping some of my run sessions for weights, with the old ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ in mind. My partner, feeling more concerned about the half marathon than I was, basically started pushing me out of the door to get the runs done. The more I committed to my running, the more I was seeing massive improvements, and that little feeling of excitement I got, ever time my Garmin VivoActive 3 Music buzzed with a PB, gave me all of the motivation I needed to keep on going.
Kelly had ordered me to use my Garmin VivoActive 3 Music to track my pace per Kilometer over anything else, which changed the game for me. Its great to know how fast I can do ‘X’ km in, but it allowed to me focus on keeping a consistent steady pace, Instead of running really fast at the start and then hyperventilating after 5km and having to slow right down. I cannot recommend having a watch to track your running enough!
So, now to answer the questions you have all been DM’ing me numerous times a day to ask: ‘what does your training look like?’.
Monday- Short/Interval run
Tuesday- Full body weights session
Wednesday- Longish Cross training session (stepper, spin class, bike, cross trainer) + Physio
Friday- Full body Weights session
Sunday- long run
My biggest fear for training for the half marathon was getting injured. I have trained for runs in the past and always ended up in the wars. So from week one I’d hired a physio who I saw once a week, Incorporated unilateral strength work, and swapped one of my ‘run days’ for an alternate form of cardio to reduce impact.
I think one thing where a lot of runners go wrong is they dismiss the strength training. It’s so vital to have strong glutes, legs, and core to help you keep your posture strong and prevent yourself from getting bad knees!
2 weeks out from the run, I caught the lurgy (standard) and I was forced to rest. Which meant the longest run I was going to do before the half marathon (10miles) was canceled… sooo, I was going into the 13-mile race having only run 6 miles. It was safe to say I was s**ting myself!
Race day arrived; I put on my running gear, attached my Garmin VivoActive 3 Music to the wrist and headed down to breakfast. I felt SO nervous, I could have cried. I stood and stared at the breakfast buffet, grabbed Kelly by the arm and said ‘what the f**k do you eat before a half marathon?’. She told me to grab a bagel, some jam, and nut butter, and then I got an egg too.
We arrived, race side, and I was completely overwhelmed by the crowds of people heading to the start line. They were old, young, slim curvy, men, women, a team of people dressed as the Jamaican bobsleigh team (lols); It was incredible. We did a mass warm up and before we knew it the claxon went off and there was no turning back!
My ‘run plan’ was to run the first 6 miles at a super easy pace (5:45- 6-minute kilometers) and then step it up after 6 miles. With everyone around me starting off basically sprinting, it was so hard to stick to my guns; but I kept referring to my Garmin VivoActive 3 Music and slowing down whenever I was getting too giddy.
I don’t have the words to describe how fantastic the atmosphere was. I was constantly smiling and from time to time I would well up (I’m crying just thinking back to it now). As we ran under the bridges, everybody was doing the OGGY OGGY OGGY, and then the Red Arrows flew overhead. As we reached the residential areas, people were plastered along the streets handing out ice pops, chopped oranges, water, Vaseline; whatever they could to make the run easier for people. There wasn’t a single part of the course that didn’t have people roadside, supporting!
When I got to mile 7, I took a gel and really stepped up my pace. I still felt like I had so much energy, as I was weaving in and out of people. I have to say that a good playlist is EVERYTHING, and I’d tactically put more upbeat songs on my Garmin VivoActive 3 Music to help me out during the second part of the run.
Every runner I had spoken to during my training, told me about ‘the wall’ AKA the part of the run where you just feel like you can’t go on, and your body just wants to give up. I hit ‘the wall’ at mile 11. It felt like the longest mile of my life, and I really struggled to hold back the tears. I slowed down drastically, but I didn’t want to stop and walk. I looked around me at all of the other runners, who’s tops read ‘I’m doing this for you mum’ & ‘Love you son’; and in my head, I thought ‘those people would love to be here today, so pull your s**t together and keep going’. I grabbed some water, put Beyoncé on and found this new lease of energy in me to complete the final 2 miles the fastest I’ve ever run.
I completed the run in 2 hours 5 minutes, which I was absolutely buzzing with!
I’m not a ‘runner’, and I managed to complete a half marathon so I would really love to inspire women to challenge themselves to some running. It’s free, great for the mind, and great for your fitness level.
I’d like to thank Garmin for setting me the challenge, for kitting me out with the best watch to help me out with my training; and for running such a fantastic campaign (#BeatYesterday) to get more people up, out and beating the person they were yesterday.
If you have any questions about training, the race, the watch; then please comment below!
Lots of love,