Putting the “Fun” Back into “Fun Run”

Every runner that crosses the finish line in any race will have a story to tell about the hurdles they had to overcome to get to the start line and the internal battles they fought to reach the finish.

Fun Run

I thought I’d share the story of one runner I have helped coach named Liz. She’s 24 and recently ran the Auckland half marathon in a PB of 2:19. She also raised a whopping $2,612 for World Vision in the process. And here is her story of what got her across the line:

I’ve been running for three years. Well, I’ve enjoyed running for the last year but the first two years were miserable. I wanted to be a runner and thought it was madness that someone would run 10kms for ‘fun’-what are these people thinking? But eventually I got there.

What an awesome day it was on Sunday 3 November. Everything seemed to fall into place for me the week before the race. I managed to relax a little, get my nerves under control and my calf was feeling better [Liz had taken four weeks off running due to a calf injury in the build up to big race].

I haven’t run the whole way around a half marathon before so I started off quite slow on the day because I wanted to last until the finish line and try to keep up a jog the whole way. Before I knew it I had passed the 10km mark. I picked up my pace to what I had done my training runs in, even though in the back of my mind I thought, “I’m not going to be able to keep this up for another 10kms!”

However I completely surprised myself. I was at the finish line before I knew it and what was going through my mind was, “Aww, man, I should have started WAY faster!”

I used the Mapmyrun phone app to track my run and when I finished I had a look at my pace and it turns out I started off at 7:20min/km, slower than any of my training runs. Then at the 10km mark I had picked up my pace to 6:20min/km, which is about my normal pace. The more I see the stats in my app the more I learn about this whole pacing thing. Maybe I should invest in a running watch so I can track these things in real time and not afterwards.

I finished with a PB of 2:19.

I’m absolutely over the moon about it. Firstly, because I managed to keep up a jog the whole way around and not aggravate my calf, and secondly because I took 10mins off my last attempt. I’m already training for my next half marathon in February and I’m determined to beat two hours. I just need to keep on top of my training, not get injured, and work on my pacing.

Liz’s story is a great example of the length of time it can take for a runner to feel comfortable and actually enjoy running. It took Liz two years and now she’s taking off huge chunks of her PB and has a great strategy for improving her times in the future. If you find that you’re still in that “this fun run is not fun” category, give it time and allow your body to catch up. It will thank you for pounding it into the pavement eventually.

Best of all, Liz was just one of hundreds of entrants who raised a total of over $750,000 for charity at the Auckland Marathon. Running is ultimately is a self-centered pursuit so it’s always inspiring when people are able to turn it into something that benefits our entire world. Well done to all those who raised money for all the great causes at the Auckland Marathon.

Happy running.

This article is an entry by Hayden Shearman on his training blog at Stuff.co.nz (published 4 December 2013). 

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