In preparation for the Great Birmingham Run I have booked a hotel for the night before the race, made sure my favourite running gear and trainers are ready, fixed my broken Garmin watch, and have been on the Great Run website studying the new route. I am glad I checked the route too – they’ve moved the start line since last year, so I need to reconsider where to park, as I hate having a long walk before or after a race.
It has been a busy few months in the lead up to the Great Birmingham Run next Sunday, and sadly not all of the training has gone to plan. I did not factor in getting shin splints a month before the big run, or finding out in August that a throat infection I have had for months has led to Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome. My friends and family know how stubborn I am, so being told to ‘rest’ and ‘pace’ myself is proving very difficult, especially as I am keen to break the two-hour half marathon barrier.
I have been slowly building up my weekly mileage over the past few months to train for the Great Birmingham Run by adding additional training sessions into an already busy week (I currently run four times per week). These have included supporting the fantastic group of ‘beginners’ on a Thursday night at my local running club, followed by an interval training session straight afterwards. I have also been building up to 10 miles runs with my weekly Sunday Club in preparation for the Cardiff Half (beginning of October) and the Great Birmingham Run – adding approximately 10 minutes to our long run each week.
In a moment of madness I signed up for the Redway Runners Cross Country women’s team, and took part in the first event in the Chiltern Cross Country League this weekend – I am told it will help me in my half marathon training and there is also a team trophy to be won! I really enjoyed the event, despite having to run through knee-deep water (twice) and finishing near the back – roll on the next meet in Milton Keynes in November.
My main focus for the Great Birmingham Run is to try and beat my previous time on the course (2hrs 4mins), and get as close to the two-half marathon mark as possible; this was the goal I set at the beginning of the year. I also want to enjoy the event and always try to thank supporters, give thumbs up and high five children along the route.
It’s great to have a goal, but I am very indecisive so usually go into a half marathon with a plan A and a plan B. Plan A is the goal I am willing to share with others and will go home happy with, and plan B is the one that kicks in when I think I can get a PB. For the Cardiff Half Marathon, I sat in the pub the night before the race and announced to my running friends on the Redway Runners club trip my plan A – a finish time between 2hrs 5mins and 2hrs 10mins. This is slower than my PB as I have been suffering from shin splints for the past few weeks. On the start line the next morning I was feeling quite good with no aches or pains, so while chatting to my friend I was trying to work out what pace I needed to get my PB; this was my plan B. Sadly, the battery on my watch died at mile 11k, so the PB pace I was on went out the window, and I met a massive hill at mile 12 that I was not prepared for. Despite this, I finished the Cardiff Half in a very respectful 2hrs 5mins and feel like it was a fantastic warm up for the Great Birmingham Run on 19 October.
Here are some tips I would give everyone running the Great Birmingham Run;
- Know what pace you need to do to get a PB – don’t try and calculate it on the start line!
- Don’t forget your race number – put it on your running top the night before
- Make sure you bring plenty of safety pins
- Check you have charged the battery to any gadget you use to time yourself – watch, phone etc.
- Eat the same breakfast you usually have – your tummy will thank you
- Wear your favourite socks and trainers – don’t try new ones on the day
- Don’t drink too much water or energy drinks before the race – or eat too many jelly babies on the way round!
- Leave plenty of time before the race for bag drop and portaloo queues
- Warning – there are hills in Birmingham, dig deep and try to run to the top of every one of them
- Try and sprint the last 100m to the finish line – channel your inner Usain Bolt!
- Always smile for the camera :)