What I Learned From My SECOND Half Marathon

The weird thing is I didn’t expect to learn anything the second time around. I thought I got this, sameish plan and do what you did last time. Nothing to learn here right? Well not exactly, life always has a lesson or two for us. So here it is and this time it’s mostly tips and tricks type stuff not life changing type stuff. After my first half I learned a lot about running which you can check out here but I learned a lot about myself and life too which you can check out here. This time around it was firmly about running but a lot of this applies to the second (or more) time you do any race.


If you want to PR you have to work harder

  1. I was thrilled with my first half marathon time but when I finished the race I felt like I still had a lot of fuel in the tank. Since then I pulled off a PR in the 10k at Bluenose and in the 5k at the pumpkin pacer with a tutu on no less. Both times there was nothing left in the tank and I had a nap after. I wanted to leave it all on the course this time and I was straight up telling people on day one of training I’m looking to beat my record. I did beat my previous record by 7 minutes but in preparing to tackle the training plan this time I knew I’d have to work harder in training to accomplish my goals. Perviously I really didn’t do the speed work, I skipped the hill repeats, intervals, turned down the tempo runs and only occasionally kinda fartleked. So this time I did every single speed workout and pushed my longest long run from 20 km to 24 km. If you want to PR in a race you need to train harder for it than you’ve ever done before.

Don’t get lazy with your gear

This training cycle I dealt with blisters by about week 7 and downstairs issues in peak week, more on that later. First cycle it was my best running undies and socks for every speed workout and long run from day one. This time it was all 10k is nothing to dress special for, socks are socks, meh. Just because you’ve done it before and the nerves aren’t as intense make sure you use best running (or whatever) practices from the start of training. It was because I wasn’t being careful with socks that I got blisters. Take care of yourself like it’s the first time.

Race date matters in unexpected ways

Or this could be titled the gear your training in effects results. Last time the race was in early October this time it was mid May which means the gear I was logging all those Km in was light and airy the first time and the second time it was long, tight and warm. See where I’m going with this. Last time it was almost all loose race skirts and spots bras this time it was long, not all that breathable pants and jackets. And sneaking in a run like I’m used to meant my downtown suffered the consequences. I’ll spare you the details but change out of your running gear and undies as soon as you get home no matter what time of year it is.

Cold Days and extra sweaty gear

Morning runs are possible and great but tough on some people

If you’re a morning runner, good for you, if you’re not you probably aspire to be a morning runner it’s just so efficient and adult right? Up until this training cycle every time I tried to be a morning runner I was also trying to be an adult, mostly. In undergrad I walked every weekday for two years with my friend who was the really early to bed type even at 20. And in grad school I had just bought my first place and that’s what adult home owner types do right, plus they pronounce it ahh-dult. This time I had to, probably because I am a grown-up now but I was dragged kicking and screaming to the idea. Plus my trainees turned out to be morning runners, of course they did. The thing is my natural state of being isn’t to do anything but caffeinate and apply make-up first thing. I like baths at night, I go to bed late no matter what I do and it turns out running first thing in the morning like up, at 5:45 and running 8 km has LITERALLY no effect on that. Even though it made me happy and full of feel good hormones first thing some people said I was cranky by noon most days. One thing that did help a lot that I initially wrote off as silly, was to visualize getting up energized and ready to run as I drifted off. I actually read it on another running blog bit I’m sorry I don’t remember where. If I can I like to workout in the evening even if it’s late and I am a grown-up dammit!

No matter where you live there is a 7 am crowd and a 6:30 am crowd

I live in one of those picturesque, tiny, summer tourist, blink and you’ll miss it towns. And though I do love it, one can get the impression there’s not a lot going on. Most of the time I see no one out and about on my runs. One out of 15 I’ll see that fast dude, the kid I kind of know who rides her bike and the lady with her dog. But typically I know about 5% or 4 or 5 drivers though. Given my feelings about times near dawn and our population I assumed I’d be out there all alone at dawn. It tuns out I was totally wrong and there is a dedicated dawn crowd out there. Even as my runs got longer and dawn got earlier, not a development I was happy about, a whole new crowd emerged. Turns out the local restaurant owner is a 6:30 dog walker, who knew?

Early birds and worms, right?

You’ll have more confidence the second time and less nerves…

The majority of the time I was training for my first half I was thinking can I do this, how will this go, how fast will I be and spent a ridiculous amount of time googling running stuff, like till 4 am. The second time around I knew I could do it, I knew how to do it and I had a point of comparison to know pretty much exactly how fast I would be. I was anxious the first time most of the time, the second time it was no big deal. There were some race day and week nerves but overall no big deal.

…But that can take some of the excitement away, find a way to get it back!

This thing is all that anxious energy the first time makes everything exciting. Like freebasing or cliff jumping, well okay not exactly like that but sort of. Every week is something you haven’t done before your longest workout or furthest distance covered and that’s new and exciting the second time around not so much. Things can get monotonous but the accomplishment is still just as big. Try, try, try to find a way to get that back. For me this time around it was running with my c25k trainees. I only did shake-out and recovery runs with them and saved speed work and long runs for myself. Before they started I wasn’t dreading it but rather dreading the layer of extra scheduling etc. That being said I knew I’d be excited about watching them fall in love (or not) with running. Watching them get excited about longest runs and fastest km’s was pretty neat. I did find this cycle more monotonous then the last though. Whether it’s new shoes, new gear or a new playlist try to find a way to get excited the next time around too.

First 5k for the trainees

What differences did you find the second time you did a particular race? What things here did you not think of before a second training cycle? Any tips to add?

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