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I’ve never been a keen runner and have never been particularly good at it – any sport I took part in, running was always my least favourite part and I always found whenever I would try to run on a treadmill in the gym, I could barely last ten minutes before I died of boredom.

Whenever I did go for a run (very rarely), I would find it difficult not to stop, or even last much more than a mile.

I Challenged Myself to run the MK Half Marathon.

However, in more recent years, I have grown a passion for health and fitness. In my spare time, I like to keep healthy by going to a gym and I try my best to eat healthily, but this is often where I fail.

Cardio has always been my least favourite part of trying to keep fit, especially low-intensity cardio, so I decided to take desperate measures and sign up for a half marathon which would force me to run – good idea?

Why a Half Marathon and not a 5k or 10k?

Why not? I thought I would really challenge myself and go all-in on becoming a better runner – duration is the part of running that I have always struggled with, so I thought I would face this head-on by going for a running event, like MK Marathon Weekend event, that would truly test my endurance and determination.

I knew that if I was to finish in a reasonable time or finish at all for that matter, I would have to commit to all aspects of the training – the nutritional side and the training side.

What did I do in preparation for the MK Half Marathon?

Run.

In preparation for the event, I changed my normal gym routine to be more suited to cardio – lifting lighter weights with more repetitions, mixing up my cardio training to be more durational and eating more whole, healthy foods that would give me the energy to do this.

I also cut down the amount of food I was eating normally, trying only to eat in meals, as I found it easier to run on an emptier stomach.

I found that eating is probably the most important part of training for endurance – I found that if I didn’t eat properly the day before training and the day of training, I just couldn’t get a good distance done. I also found it hard to find the perfect amount of time to wait before training after eating.

Gym Treadmills used to prepare for the MK Half Marathon.

I also found it much easier to run outside, rather than on a treadmill. Running outside gives you a physical goal to aim for – not an electronic figure on a treadmill. So in preparation for the event, I turned towards the outdoors to get the miles in.

Prior to the event, I wanted to make sure I completed at least one 13 mile run, which I managed with only a week and a half left before the event.

Difficulties and Setbacks

I found the hardest part of training was finding the time to train properly – to run a good distance, it usually takes around 2 hours, and then you have all of the time taken up in preparation for your run. Sticking to eating the right foods and making sure I was training consistently was equally as difficult.

It would also take me days to recover from runs, meaning I couldn’t get as many runs in as I’d have liked to.

Arriving at the Event

Arriving at the event, I didn’t really know what to expect: this was the first time I had taken part in a serious sporting event like this.

Outside of the MK Dons Stadium / Stadium MK where they host the MK Marathon Weekend.

I arrived at the event very under-prepared – I came holding my marathon number printout in my hand, thinking you could stick it on – not realising you were supposed to bring pins to attach it to your shirt. Luckily for me though, as soon as another runner noticed this, they handed me over some spare ones they had brought…sorted!

I also brought my car keys, not realising I had nowhere to put them, so I had to put them in my shoe for the entire 13 miles, which, of course, was a bit painful after the 13 miles…

While I waited in my running zone, I was really humbled by the reasons behind people taking part in the event – I saw so many runners wearing shirts in support of loved ones and charities. I think it is amazing the extent people go to to support a person or a cause.

I also spoke with some of the runners while we were waiting and was amazed by what had brought them to take part in the event.

I was amazed by the number of people who were attending and even more so by how friendly and supportive they all were.

The waiting part is the most nerve-racking, but also the most exciting part of the event.

Running the MK Half Marathon

Beginning at the Stadium MK, all of the runners start off very slowly as they filter through the start line…the pace is non-existent until the runners start to separate out, which is about one or two miles into the run. As soon as you get some space, that is where you start to get into your own stride.

The first two miles are the easiest as you are concentrating on weaving in and out of the other runners.

That being said, throughout the event there are plenty of distractions to keep your mind off of your running, like the drummers in the middle of the roads, people blowing horns, shouting support and more. I couldn’t believe the number of spectators at the event – there was not a single patch throughout the entire 13 miles where there was at least one person providing support or entertainment – it was great.

Group of Marathon Runners running down a paved street.

Once you have run from the stadium, all the way to the Hub and back round, that is where I started to feel a little bit of the physical demand – about 4 miles into the run. This is where I realised I hadn’t paced myself correctly at the beginning, so I turned it down a notch for the next while.

The most challenging part for me was reaching the halfway point – all of the time I had made up at the beginning was getting well and truly lost in the second half. It really didn’t help that it hit a huge 28 degrees during the event.

The time goes very slowly in the second half and it really feels like you’re getting nowhere…there were moments where I wondered if I would finish, but I just kept going and knew that I was getting closer and closer with every step.

I did stop a few times nearing the end of the run, but the support of the runners and spectators really kept me going.

Nearing the end of the event, I was fully exhausted, but I knew that I wouldn’t run all of that distance not to finish, so I kept going.

I remember the last mile being awful – it was a real push to get through it. I remember running onto the football pitch seeing the finish line and feeling like it was still so far away.

Inside the Stadium MK / MK Dons stadium where they place the finish line for the MK half marathon.

I did finally get there though and the feeling it gave me crossing the line was well and truly worth it and it gave me an overwhelming feeling of relief knowing I had finished and the event was behind me.

Finishing Time and Distance MK Half Marathon, Ryan Murray.

I finished with an overall time of 2hours 31minutes 58secs and a terrible sunburn. I was aiming to finish the run in under 2hours 30minutes, which I did miss, but I am just glad that I finished the event, which was my overall goal. 

After The Event

MK Half Marathon 2018 Finishing medal and White MK Marathon Weekend T-Shirt.

If I were to do another event like this, I would take the training more seriously – I felt at times I was inconsistent with my training and I don’t think I really ran enough before the event.

It seemed to take me a while to recover after runs and I didn’t want to push it too hard so that I couldn’t turn up at the event.

However, I am glad I did what I set out to achieve – complete the MK half marathon – and I believe that under different circumstances I could have hit my target.

I do aim to complete another Half Marathon at an event like this, but finishing within my target time of under 2 hours 30 minutes.

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