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Running for the first time: the journey to my first half marathon

Updated on August 19, 2013
Here's me right after completing my first 21.5 k half marathon race.
Here's me right after completing my first 21.5 k half marathon race. | Source

Before I started running for the first time, I would often hypothetically ask other runners “What are you running from?!” I live in Vancouver, Canada, where you see runners literally everyday of the year: on the street, on the seawall, on the beach, on the track, on the trail or anywhere. I honestly didn’t see the point of running, for fun.

I always knew, in the back of my mind, that running is a tried and true way of getting fit, but the prospect of running for the first time without knowing anything about running was a scary prospect.

Getting started in running

While I was pregnant, I started to learn about the importance of exercise, both pre-natal and post-baby exercise. I was never much of a regular exerciser and I usually burned calories doing activities and sports I loved, but never on a regular basis. After having my first child, I decided that running would be a good, full body workout and I decided to make a running plan to lose weight. I literally didn’t know where to start, but I thought that buying new running shoes would be a good start. My feet were measured and fitted at the New Balance store downtown and before I knew it, I was buying my first pair of running shoes. Honestly, getting new (pink) running shoes was a big part of my motivation to get out there and to start training.

Running schedule for weight loss

In 2010, losing my baby weight and running a half marathon became huge goals for me. I figure, either go big or go home! Here are some steps I took to reach my goal of having a running plan to lose weight, getting started in running and finishing a half marathon race:

My first 10 km race with baby

My 11 month old baby and I at the Vancouver Sun Run in March 2011.
My 11 month old baby and I at the Vancouver Sun Run in March 2011.

1. Make a plan to get from couch to half marathon

I decided that I would sign myself up for a 10 k race (I had done the 10 k Vancouver Sun Run a couple of times before). So I signed up in June 2010 for a New Balance Classic 10 k race set for October 2010. Doing a 10 k race was a big challenge for me since I hadn’t been exercising regularly in the past year, and I was running for the first time. The race was a success because I completed it without any walking breaks and I kept up my pace the whole time.

-After completing the New Balance Classic 10 k race in October 2010 (in the snow!), I signed up to complete the Vancouver Sun Run, another 10 k race for March 2011. Only this time, I decided to run with my 11 month old in the stroller, as I did stroller runs for most of my training and also this was a big part in my running plan to lose weight. The race went well, but because there were so many people, many of them walking, I was forced to do a 5 k walk. After the 5 k walk I was able to find an opening and I ran quickly to finish the remaining 5 k.

-I signed up for the BMO Half marathon in December 2010 and the race date was set for May 2011. On race day I met a friend of a friend, who was from out of town and he was also competing in the same BMO half marathon. We ran together for almost half of the race (about 12 k or so) and we talked the whole time, which took the pressure off of the race for me.

2. Get an app

I had heard of an app called couch to 5k and it seemed like a good resource for a non-runner, like myself. The couch to 5k app was a very gradual program that started me out on a 5 k walk to start, then a walk/run/walk/ run pattern, with the runs getting gradually longer and the walks getting gradually shorter. I used the Couch to 10k app for my 10k training with the same concepts applied: walk/run/walk/run.

For my half marathon training, I used the map my run app. This was helpful because I was able to track my runs and I was able to track my running pace too. At the time I wished I would have had a GPS running watch as it’s smaller and more reliable than a lot of the apps I was using. The nice thing about using the map my run app was that I was able to track other local runners’ routes and if I felt like it, I could even contact other runners in my area to see if they wanted to start a running group with me I also used Revolver Half Marathon Coach. This was helpful for me in creating for myself a running schedule for weight loss. I was running up to 5 days a week and you bet I was losing weight! Again, it was helpful to gradually move from short runs with walking breaks to longer runs with little or no walking breaks.


3. Choose an energizing and uplifting playlist or podcast

When developing a running schedule for weight loss, I realized quickly that song choice made a huge difference in my pace and in my motivation to run for sustained periods of time. I asked friends for running song suggestions and made my playlist accordingly. Towards the end of my training, I came to really enjoy listening to either story-telling or comedy podcasts on my runs as opposed to music.

I did find that listening to music during actual races took away from the experience. Often I would find myself meeting other runners on the course and most races provided either live music or music playing through speakers.

4. Surround yourself with a community of runners

As I mentioned earlier, I used the map my run app not just for tracking purposes, but I used it to connect with other runners in my neighbourhood. Running with others helped to push my training to the next level. It also helped to have others to talk to, knowing that we all had the same end goal: to complete a half marathon, eventually. When running for the first time it really helps to have support and running communities are great for this. Also, as mentioned earlier, I found I met a lot of other runners during the races and I found the racers to be quite friendly.

Running Room Owner giving running tips for beginners

Running for the first time

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    • Raitu Disong profile image

      Raitu Disong 4 years ago

      Helpful tips!