Health & Fitness Lifestyle

Zero to Half Marathon: We Run San Francisco

October 14, 2013

Three months ago, I was sitting in a meeting room being asked to take on the challenge of running a half marathon with Nike in San Francisco. I had never heard of something so unfitting to my physical ability before, and not even the words, ‘Equinox gym membership’, ‘personal trainers’ or ‘San Francisco’ could lighten the load of an 11 week training programme leading to a half marathon.

After asking Nike, if they were sure they wanted me and not, I don’t know, maybe a runner? They were adamant that they wanted me to prove to myself and my peers that you can go from zero to half marathon. To my own surprise, they’re absolutely right. Eleven weeks ago I was panting and out of breath at a mere 2.5K (about 1.5 miles) and could barely move the next day, but with the help of a strict schedule, two fantastic trainers, one incredible gym (Equinox on High Street Kensington), I’m now steadily running a 5-8K three times a week as a morning workout and with the help of weight training, I can physically see and feel the changes in my body and my ability to move faster, for longer. We’re now on week 11/11 and I’m so nervous but I’m hoping that on the day of the run, I will be filled with motivation and positivity thanks to the hundreds of other women taking part.

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I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can see it is possible for someone to go from zero to half marathon, or even zero to 5K. If I was to share a bit of advice I would say that you literally just have to do it, for me there’s nothing quite like staying committed to something so I think my OCD kicked in a little bit and I took this challenge on with every intention of completing it, but if you’re a little flakey when it comes to working out or training, I would try and schedule in your training days into your calendar, treat it like an appointment or meeting and if you can, try and meet up with a friend to work out, (it’s a lot harder having to cancel when there’s another person involved). Treat yourself to some new gear, I feel like crap if I have to run in old sweats or shoes, I treat my workout clothes like I do the rest of my wardrobe, and try and stay up to date with latest trends and technologies, that way I’m not using it as an excuse to not workout outdoors, or feel embarrassed to jump on the tube and make my way to Central London for a run around Hyde Park on a Saturday, I’m always proud of my Nike gear.

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I also think it’s important to workout towards a goal, this is the first time I’m working towards something rather then to loose weight or tone up and it’s made such a difference to the thought process behind it. If you’re trying to loose weight, you’re constantly going to be looking for those changes and as it’s such a slow process you will get disappointed and feel defeated when you don’t see them as quickly as you’d like to, so try and say to yourself that you’re working towards running a little faster or lifting a little heavier then you did last week. There are also some great apps that you can download to get you started, one of my favourites is the Nike NTC app, it’s basically a virtual trainer, and I also love using the Nike + app to track my running, my friends and I add each other so we can keep each other motivated or compete a little.

I’m leaving for San Francisco next week and race day is on the 21st of October, I’m not treating it as a race at all, I just want to complete it and not stop, like my trainer Joslyn likes to say ‘one foot in front of the other’ and that’s what I plan to do. I can’t wait to fill you all in on how it goes but you can stay up to date on my Instagram and Twitter for now. Wish me luck!

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I also have some expert advice from you, courtesy of my fabulous trainer Joslyn Thomspson, she’s such an inspiration, check out her blog for updates on health and fitness and follow her on Twitter and Instagram too.

1. Ease yourself in – a simple (walk for 4 minutes, jog for 1) repeated four times will get you going.  Each week reduce the walk by a minute and increase the jog by a minute e.g. In week 2, walk for 3 minutes, jog for 2.  By week five you should be able to jog for 20 solid minutes.
2. Schedule your run into your diary and stick to it like an official appointment.  Trust me, you will thing of at least ten good reasons why you “haven’t got time” to go for your run.  Perhaps get it done in the morning and then it’s out of the way.
3. Check your footwear.  Dusting off your old plimsolls in the hope that they might carry you through your running journey is a big no.  Invest in a good pair of running shoes.  Oh and a good sports bra!
4. Stay safe – if you are running in the evening make sure you can be seen if running on a high traffic road and that somebody knows your whereabouts if you are running in a quieter area.  If you’re listening to music, have it on low so you can still hear what’s going on around you.
5. Keep track of your progress – you won’t know how far you have come unless you keep a small record of your progress.  A motivational tool in itself.
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Images courtesy of Nic Serpell-Rand.