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Written By Firina Achor - May 29 2020
Running never felt easy to me; growing up I played basketball but it was mostly short sprints. During practice I would work so hard to make sure my team won, so we didn’t have to do any extra running. I just thought running sucked! When I think back, I felt this way because I never had proper guidance or training. I was reintroduced to running when I moved to Vancouver. Running outside every day was a thing, but I didn’t get it!
Fast forward to 2020, and I thought it would be the year I’d get into running and take it seriously, maybe start with a 5 or 10k. But it ended up being the year my half marathon journey began. Rob sent me a message saying “I can’t tell you much, but if you had an opportunity to train for a half marathon under incredible circumstances would you be down?” Of course I said YES! I was invited to be part of Project Fearless, which brought together 13 women from different backgrounds and running abilities with the end goal of running LA13.1 in April. At the end of the first group meet-up with Nike, I was sold on running my first half! We were set up with a 13-week training program on the Nike Running App and some rad gear to help us out.
SET A GOAL
Before I began training I wrote down my goals - I wanted this to help me see the bigger picture, and track my improvements week after week. My goal was simple; to complete the half marathon and to finish under 2:15. Big moves for a first timer, I know. Go big or go home!
LEAN ON YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
As I began training, I started to feel a bit lost. I had so many questions: when are the best days to run? When should I rest? I began to overthink things and I didn’t want to get overwhelmed. I spoke to Linda Wong (VRC Run Leader), who was supportive and inspiring. Her advice was to find the best way to make this easier for ME. I knew I needed to schedule all my runs into my calendar. The Nike training program had us running 5 days a week plus a minimum of two days of strength training, so scheduling everything helped me stay focused and accountable. As training rolled on, I realized how important it is to be gentle on myself. There were days when I thought the training was a breeze and other days were the total opposite! I would go back to a place of self-doubt and I started to feel like I was my own worst enemy. Believing in yourself makes things a lot easier. Learning to appreciate yourself is the greatest gift running has taught me.Your support system will make this journey much easier. I was lucky enough to know some pretty rad runners; so as a rookie to the sport, I leaned on those people. I would ask them what felt like silly questions, but they didn’t hesitate to answer or give me advice. I would send a text after a PB or when I ran my fastest 5km without stopping, and share the victories with them. CHANGES DON’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHTThe first few weeks of training were easy(ish), but as we got closer to race day things got taxing! Fuelling my body, sleeping, and eating well became more and more important - it helped my body recover on rest days. I saw my Physiotherapists regularly (Jenny Park and Steph McGregor of Myodetox), who were so knowledgeable, supportive, and both let me have it when I wasn’t resting my body properly.No matter how new you are to running, don’t be too hard on yourself. Get those runs in, but pace yourself. The more mileage under your feet, the more comfortable you’ll become. And don’t forget to celebrate each run - the good, the bad, and the ugly - it will feel so good! My favourite mantra during training - Celebrate each win, no matter how big or small. Even though the race ended up being cancelled, I still felt like the training was a huge victory