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The San Francisco Half Marathon: Then and Now

Bam — I’m approaching the end of my half marathon training! Now the “training half” is over and just the “marathon half” — well, half marathon — remains! And it’s this Sunday!

Looking back over my training motivates me like crazy to keep chasing my goals. But what things turned out differently than expected along the way?

Halfway Through

1. I Kicked Fear in the Ass

Feel the Fear

A month ago

When I started my training, I was scared as hell. When getting the registration for the Half Marathon of San Francisco, my first one-word reaction was something I’m not allowed to write here! And during every single run, I thought, “I can barely run for 30 minutes. How am I ever going to succeed running for more than two hours?”

Now

Although I still have some big goals to tackle, the challenge no longer frightens me.

Daunting? Definitely. Doable? You bet.

2. I Focused on Smaller Goals

Every Journey

A month ago

I started my training with a rigid schedule, planning specific runs on certain days of the week. The entire time I was focused on the end goal: running 13.1 miles.

Now

On a recent long run of 50 minutes, I decided to set a goal for my next long run: one hour. I laced up and went out there with my routine in place: I ran more or less my usual route, had my favorite music playlist ready, and had fun plans lined up after my run. I totally nailed it and felt proud.

Judith   Judith's Path

From running newbie with zero experience to running for an hour straight: I did it! And I was able to do so because I no longer focus on that one big, “frightening” goal.

Hey, I see the Golden Gate Bridge; let’s run there,” I thought to myself recently. Each run, I focus on nailing a small goal with little effort, and it works great!

3. I Did It My Way

Be Stubborn and Flexible

A month ago

I started my half marathon journey by following a training schedule. It was built by someone else to fit my personal needs, and it told me to run four times a week. I followed my schedule the first week but decided to run more than the schedule encouraged, which I later realized was overdoing it. During my second week, I went for my scheduled four runs and injured my knees.

Now

I abandoned my training schedule and went from four runs a week to three and then eventually two. By listening to my body, not overdoing it, and focusing on fewer but longer runs, I managed to run for an hour without injuries.

After that run, I went to a bar and sat down with a cocktail to celebrate my victory. Probably no nutritionist would agree with the idea to have an alcoholic drink after burning 500 calories and being dehydrated, but I couldn’t care less. A cocktail was the hydration I needed at that time. I deserved it. While sipping my cocktail, I thought about how I managed to pull this run off. And it was exactly that attitude of “I am doing what feels right” that encouraged me to succeed.

Adjusting my training schedule to my needs was the smartest idea I’ve had so far during my half marathon training. After all, there is no “one size fits all” plan you can follow. Everyone runs differently. The only thing you can do is get out there and discover what works for you.

4. I Was Motivated by Progress

Once You Start

A month ago

When I started running, I only focused on counting down time, on how long I still needed to go. Progress didn’t seem possible. Frankly, I never believed I would make it as far along as I am now.

Now

When I reread my post about being able to run for 45 minutes, being stoked about it, and injuring my knees because of it, I smiled. After a month, I have reached a point where I can easily run 50 minutes as part of my normal training.

I wouldn’t be as motivated to keep training if I hadn’t been tracking my progress. I track my runs with Runkeeper, my heart rate and sleep with my Basis Peak, my muscle quality with Skulpt, and my overall progress with Addapp. And they all help to give a clear overview of how I am improving.

Judith's June  Judith's Success

Seeing how much faster and longer I am able to run now is the best encouragement and stimulation to keep going.

5. I Discovered Myself

Every Accomplishment

A month ago

I was a quitter, and I felt insecure about how much I ate without exercising. Even though I was skinny & healthy, I was aware of the amount of chocolate I was consuming versus not exercising.

Now

It’s amazing how much I’ve grown in a month and how much I’ve discovered about myself.

I’ve grown physically: I’ve built more muscle and become more fit. I have more energy, and I’m always ready to go somewhere or do an activity. And the condition of my skin has improved drastically. (I swear I have less wrinkles on my forehead than a month ago!)

But far more importantly to me, I’ve grown mentally. I’ve discovered how much willpower I have. Quitting my training has never been an option. Not even when I felt like a failure. When I want something, I go get it.

I am going to run this half marathon and no one is stopping me.

Judith Straetemans

About the author:
Judith Straetemans

Judith is a 26-year-old running newbie challenging herself to run a half marathon. Originally from Belgium, Judith crossed the ocean to San Francisco to join the digital health startup, Addapp. She’s always up for adventure and is a big fan of nightly bike rides and confetti.

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