It’s a half marathon – not a sprint! Planning for performance….

Back in February, I wrote a blog post about setting goals.  One of the goals I’d set for the year back then was to complete the Sheffield Half Marathon.  At the time I didn’t have a target time, I just wanted to finish.  I knew that my other goal, to complete all of my financial planning exams by August, was definitely going to have an impact on the amount of time I’d be able to spend training.  So it was clear that I would need a plan.  Thankfully, I managed to find a Lucozade Half Marathon training plan that would be able to get me ready in just three runs per week.

As this was my first half marathon, I didn’t have a target time to begin with.  But this all changed when I found out that my colleague, Scott Kershaw, in the mortgage department, had run the same race in 2015 with a finishing time of 1:38!  Suddenly a competitive urge took over me and I felt like I needed to beat Scott.

On the day of the half marathon, the planning didn’t end.  Although the time for training was over, I still needed a plan of attack for the race.

Thankfully, the pacers on the race made this a lot easier.  I just needed to stay in between the pacers with the 1:35 and 1:40 flags.  And hopefully, I’d be able to accelerate towards the 1:35 pacer in the last couple of miles.

Trainee Financial Planner James Fisher with his medal after the Sheffield Half Marathon 2018, looking happy that the planning and hard work paid off.

The race report

The race itself was a roller-coaster of an experience.  Initially, stood in the pen waiting to start, I was full of nervous anticipation.  A ten minute delay caused by a ‘police incident’ only added to the tension.  But after the countdown that anticipation turned into excitement and I had to control myself to avoid shooting out of the block like a greyhound and ruining my race.

The Sheffield Half Marathon is a tough run, most of the first five miles being uphill.  As I made my way up towards Ringinglow on the edge of the Peak District my excitement slowly faded away as I started to doubt whether I’d ever get to the top.  Thankfully, the people of Sheffield lining the route helped to spur me and all the other runners on with music, banners and jelly beans!

Finally, the course levelled off and I felt exhilarated by the beautiful views across Sheffield to the left and the Peak District to the right.  From here it was going to be almost all down hill.  I sped up, sticking to my plan to stay between the 1:35 and 1:40 pacers and really enjoyed the next few miles.

Once I got to about the eight-mile mark, things took another turn.  My legs started threatening to cramp up and I felt like I might be beaten!  I started to slow down, and I wondered whether a sub 1:40 finish would ever be possible.  With around two miles left to go, the 1:40 pacers caught me up.  This gave me the boost I needed, along with the jelly babies and orange slices from kind spectators.

Before I knew it the finish lane was in sight, and the guys with the 1:40 flags were cheering me on.  I crossed the finish line feeling shattered but with a great sense of achievement.

Did the planning pay off?

So, did all that training, planning and hard work pay off?  I finished the race in 1:38:37, which I was really pleased with.  But I was still 5 second slower than Scott.  Maybe I’ll have to beat him next time!

James Fisher's Sheffield Half Marathon 2018 Route and Results (1:38:37)