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Running a Half Marathon, after a few years

·3 mins

Yesterday I ran the Amsterdam Half Marathon and achieved a personal best time of 1h57m04s 🎉 After celebrating the achievement and getting some rest at home, I started reflecting on this experience.

The plan #

My goal was to finish the race in under 2 hours, even though I knew, based on my training performance, that it was quite an ambitious one… So I studied the race track, took note of where I would find refreshment stations along the way, and wrote down a detailed negative split pace plan that would make me finish just under 2 hours (1h59m15s, with 45 seconds of margin, just in case something didn’t go as planned).

Plan vs reality #

The following graph compares how I planned to run the race and how I actually ran it:

Plan vs reality

I didn’t of course expect to stick to the plan to the letter, but it was still interesting to realize how much I actually deviated from it (especially at the 5th km, where I logged 5m3s instead of the planned 5m45s).

Considerations #

Was I unaware of the deviation? It’s hardly the case: my sport watch reported my average pace throughout the race.

Did I feel particularly strong during the race, to the point that I felt that I could do more than planned? Not really: I had not even slept properly the night before the race, so I actually felt a bit tired.

Why, then? In hindsight, it’s very clear: I let the environment around me (the event, the other runners, and the audience) and my own ambition influence me. It’s very human, especially in an amateur runner such as myself, but it doesn’t pay off in the long term.

Mulling over it, two quotes came to my mind… one from my volleyball coach:

We don’t improvise during a match: we experiment while training and we stick to the strategy in matches.

and one from Derek Sivers’ Anything You Want:

No business plan survives first contact with customers

and it got me smiling, thinking that my own, poor business running plan had indeed not survived 🙂

All good, then? #

Yes and no: my heart rate monitor and the fatigue I feel today clearly point out to the fact that I went overboard yesterday.

Lessons learned #

  1. The best plan in the world becomes useless if I don’t stick to it: this time I pulled it off, but the next time I might not be so lucky.
  2. I need to be more disciplined and run my own race.
  3. I need to improve my aerobic fitness so that, in the future, I can run at similar pace more comfortably.