From sofa to Palestine in 14 weeks - or, you know, not.
Remember that I started training for the Palestine half mara about seven months ago? Probably not, considering it's seven months ago. Having never run further than six kilometres in my life and also having a bit of a cinnamon bun baby going on, I decided to use the half mara as a way to get exercising again - and I also thought it was a great excuse to finally get to go to Palestine.
I made it to Palestine, but I never ran the half mara there. Why? Well, three weeks before the race I headed over to SXSW in Texas and had a jolly good time, which unfortunately resulted in me coming down with bronchitis from hell. I was gutted, but not that gutted as I travelled to Palestine on my own, and the only one who'd suffer from my being annoyed would be, well, me. Instead I walked the 10k with an old acquaintance of mine, which was pretty great.
Last week - six weeks after the race took place - I finally ran the 21.1k on my own, right here in Malmö. At that point I hadn't run for nine(!) weeks. So yeah, it was interesting. All in all it took me about seven months from starting training to finally getting across that imaginary finish line. Here's what I learnt.
Don't underestimate the power of tech
You'd expect this one from someone who works in tech amirite. In all seriousness, my running app was really helpful, particularly in the beginning. I hadn't done any exercising in months at that point, and since the app told me "congratulations" and actually cheered me on when I ran my first eight minutes (which, mind you, was pretty hard at that point) I didn't feel like a loser for only running for eight minutes. The app also helped me avoid procrastinating - I had to run only four times a week, and every day I had a run to do it was a bit like Russel Brand going "you only have to get through today being sober, who knows what happens tomorrow". Every time I dreaded going for a run (which, surprisingly, didn't happen that many times), the app somehow got me to just do it. Lol. And I actually started quoting Nike. That's how you know someone's branding works.
Steer clear of the dickheads
This goes for most things in life, but I find a reminder to be helpful every now and again. Some people - they were very few, but still - actually said that I didn't train enough, or that I wasn't strong enough, or that a half marathon is "very hard" (thanks Sherlock, really appreciate it). Most people were really supportive - impressed even - and that helped me ignore the BS. More than anything, knowing that I was well on track according to my app convinced me that I would be able to run it - and this goes for even when it turned out I wasn't going to be able to run the race in Palestine. Generally though, talking to others about the challenge brought out other people's anecdotes and running tips, regardless of whether they were beginners like me, or pros who'd run several maras already. At one point I even felt like maybe I was approaching the running community, but lol who am I kidding.
Know the difference between giving up and being an idiot
Three days before the race I was in the office, having a cough that sounded like it was about to kill me, but I was still pretty adamant I'd make the race - until a colleague sternly looked me in the eye and said "don't be an idiot" (Swedes aren't usually that vocal). To be fair, it's probably the wisest piece of advice anyone gave me throughout my training. Dropping out, giving up, whatever you want to call it, isn't equivalent to it being a failure. Had I listened to the dickheads (see above point), it probably would've felt as such, but it would've been such an epically shit move to try and do the race while really ill. If I'd tried to do it, I would most likely have had to drop out during the race, which might have put me off running for good.
Last Saturday I finally ran my half mara. I ran 21.9k in 2 hours and 27 minutes, including five pit stops at different restaurants to fetch water, a couple of red lights, and helping an old lady out finding the hospital (no joke - that's what happens when you run your own little race).
Needless to say, it felt pretty fucking epic.