trying is hard

In 10 days I’m running the Oxford Half marathon (a free entry from Brooks).

Brooks make good running shoes and cup holders.

Brooks make good running shoes and cup holders.

I think the race’s official hashtag puts it best, #OH!

I don’t think I’ve blogged about this yet, but if you follow me on Strava* you’ve seen that I’ve been training for this race. Training for a 1:49 half marathon. I still haven’t run a sub-1:50 half marathon and after 2 failed attempts in 2014 I picked some other goals to train for and left my half marathon PB at 1:52 and a bit.


I wrote myself a 9 week training plan, my first training plan as an England Athletics coach (no better test subject than myself I guess), that focused on improving my pace from what I was running at that time, a comfortable 10:00min/mile, to 8:15 – 8:30min/miles. This is the goal and not a guarantee.

The many faces of a tough speed workout

The many faces of a tough speed workout

To run a 1:49 half marathon I have to maintain a 8:19min/mile pace for 13.1 miles. I think it’s important to get a lot of race-pace practice in during training, in tempo runs and in short bursts during long runs. When writing the training plan I worked that pace into the sessions and included some faster & shorter sessions to get my legs used to quick turnovers.


I’ve learned a few things during these 9 weeks from having such a great training plan written by such a great coach (ahem).

  1. Setting a goal is easy, trying is hard. Trying to do some of the sessions and hit the paces set out for me has been hard. I started off thinking that I just couldn’t run that fast, but through the weeks I’ve realised that it’s just the trying that is hard. It’s hard to keep trying to push yourself and your efforts. Not to be all inspirational quote-y but if you are trying to achieve something it’s supposed to be hard.
  2. Running fast is hard, running easy is hard. I hear a lot of complaints about how hard it is to hit x-pace during a speed workout, but then the next day it’s OK to run easy efforts faster than planned “because it felt good”. HUH? Stick to the paces set out in your training plan to see the benefits of your training. Don’t run your race before the race! Trust the training! My easy run today is supposed to be around 9:45/10:00min/mile pace, I feel great and it’s sunny so it’s super tempting to cruise around the 3 miles in 8:00min/miles, but this isn’t the plan.
  3. Play the long game. I’ve loved the last 9 weeks of training getting back into speedier paces, and setting a time goal for this race helped that. But, I’m not expecting miracles, I haven’t focused on running since the Rome Marathon last April and know that consistency is key when it comes to getting faster or running further. I’m not going to turn off my training after this race (goal achieved or not) and have planned out some long-term goals that step up accordingly.

Looking back at my training I’m not sure I have done the work necessary to reach my time goal on race day. I’ve tried, and it’s been hard, but being realistic I know that it’s going to be a stretch to run a 1:49 half. I still want to go for it, if only to give myself a benchmark for the next training session. Even if I don’t reach my time goal for this race I think my legs and head have learned enough to count this as a successful training period.

*My strava account is private, if I don’t know you in real life you can’t see it, sorry. The creepo-weirdos on there have ruined it for everyone.


5 thoughts on “trying is hard

  1. cmmercer

    Laura, how was the coaching course? Interesting in doing this so I can lead some student groups at school, but not entirely sure which one to go for.

  2. Cathryn

    Oh I’m nodding furiously at this…next weekend I’m aiming for a 1.51 (maybe 1.50?) in Healdsburg, California and I feel exactly the same way. (I’d also die for a 1.49), we have the same current PR). I’m going to do my absolute best but it’s going to be tough out there. Good luck!!


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