Almost a year ago, I started my blog. Last Friday, I ran a half marathon. Today I'm trying to figure if the two have anything in common.
They probably don't, but I'll see if I can weave a thread. Really it's just that I was pleased with my run and wanted to shout about it a little - surely it's not a bad thing to be proud about something and to want to share it.
Anyway, what about this run? It was the Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon, one of the most popular races in Dubai with nearly 2,000 people taking part. I was quite apprehensive as it was my first event since May - I run quite a lot, but races are different, you try to go fast which is when it hurts, and I really don't do hurting very well!
I had a few targets in mind. Somewhere around 1 hour 33 minutes would be OK, 1 hour 30 minutes would make me very happy, and 1 hour 28 minutes would be a personal best - perhaps unlikely, but not completely impossible.
Setting the targets is the easy bit, the harder bit is how to go about achieving them. I had a think about this, and came up with a plan:
Step 1 - a week before the half marathon, I did a long run of 32km. The first 25km at a slower pace, followed by the last 7km at the pace required for a 1 hour 28 minute half marathon. It was tough, but I did it, and I stored that fact in my mind or, as my friend has since told me, in my confidence box.
Step 2 - three days before the half marathon I ran for a medium length of time, again at the pace required for a 1 hour 28 minute half marathon. This session was probably a bit hard for so close to the race, but it went well and again gave me something to store in my confidence box.
Step 3 - I made a race plan, breaking the race down into sections:
- Run the first 7km at target pace. I know I can run 7km at that pace OK, so I didn't have to worry too much about this part of the run.
- Reset my mind to zero and run another 7km at target pace. This is where it helps that I'm a bit stupid. The idea is that running another 7km feels much more doable than saying I needed to run from kilometers 7 to 14 at the same pace when I'm already starting to get tired.
- Reset my mind to zero again, suck it up and run another 3km at the same pace. It will be getting pretty tough now, but surely I can do 3km if I focus.
- Reset my mind to zero again, and try to punch through another 2km. It will really be hurting by now, but 2km is not so far, so this section is about gritting my teeth and getting through it.
- Now there's just 2km to go. It probably hurts like crazy now, but the end is in sight, and I know I'll finish it from here.
Step 4 - Remember the things that I stored in my confidence box. When it's hurting, pull them out to remind me that I can do this.
It doesn't always work, but this time it did. I'd done my preparation, had my targets, figured out a plan, and had my confidence box to go to when I started to doubt myself. The result was that I stuck at it and finished in a new personal best time of 1 hour 27 minutes and 48 seconds. I was one very happy, tired, early retired person.
Okay, this post is just a blatant excuse for me to say that I've got a new personal best time. I'm pretty pleased with that, so I hope you'll indulge me and forgive my little shout out about it.
And so can I weave a thread into something relevant to my blog? I'm going to give it a go:
My blog is me sharing my experience about early retirement - how I got there, what my early retirement looks like, and what it costs. I'm going to say that this half marathon is part of my early retirement life, so that kind of counts as being semi relevant.
Maybe more relevant is that my half marathon plan isn't much different to planning for anything else. The same approach could be applied to saving for Financial Independence / Early Retirement or indeed for early retirement itself i.e. setting some targets, breaking them down into bite sized pieces, doing some preparation to help make them achievable, and knowing that while there may be some tough times you should have the confidence to push through. I've done this with various parts of my first year of early retirement, and I'm sure it's helped make it a success.
Maybe that's a pretty weak connection between running and my blog. But anyway, what I really wanted to say was...did you know that I got a new personal best for a half marathon and I'm pretty pleased with myself? ;)