Yes, you read that correctly. 21 days as in three weeks. You’re probably thinking, “Who on earth decides to run a half-marathon with only three weeks to train?” Well that person is me, apparently.
Let me start this off by saying that I’ve been a runner for the past eight years of my life so it’s not like I started this completely out of nowhere. It’s always been a goal of mine to run a half-marathon ever since I really started to get into the sport my underclassman years of high school and I watched my teammates and coaches complete them. Although I’ve always wanted to accomplish this distance, I never ran more than nine miles consecutively during a practice and then, the injury.
The summer before my senior year of high school I broke my ankle, completely shattering the tip of my fibula. Devastated, I was out for almost my entire season. (Refer to the picture of me fake smiling though ugly crying in the emergency room). Towards the end of the season and a few months after the injury I started to get back on my feet (pun intended) and doing a few low mileage runs when the pain wasn’t too unbearable. After months of what should have been a fairly easy heal I was still experiencing a lot of pain in my foot and ankle. Fast forward a few doctors’ visits, tests and x-rays, I learned I had nerve damage as a result from the break. Beautiful. I sat my entire senior track season in the announcer’s booth instead of on the track racing like I should have been. I spent the following summer leading up to college in physical therapy to try and combat the nerve damage but made little progress in the few months I had before I went away to school.
I went on to start college that fall at West Virginia University in a completely different state than I had always known and basically gave up on running. Mountain life was not the easiest transition for me and even harder for my ankle.
Months went by, I grew more accustomed to my new home and its landscape but I still wasn’t ready to get back in my sneakers.
Towards the end of the semester when my stress levels hit new records I knew it was time to get back out there, so I did. What a feeling that was.
I probably only ran a handful of times my entire freshman year of college but that was all it took for me to realize what I had been missing for the past two years.
Summer came and I ran exactly one time. Whoops. But I was determined to fix that when school started. It also helped that my sister took my old pair of running shoes with her so I was “forced” to get a new pair. As if anyone has to twist my arm to do that.
Sophomore year of college started and that was a whole other story in itself. I needed running more than ever so that’s exactly what I did. Nothing too crazy but I always made sure to run two to three times a week.
As I said earlier, it’s always been an aspiration of mine to run a half-marathon and eventually go on to run more than that. For some reason I started really thinking about doing one sooner than later; nothing serious but it was always a nagging thought in the back of my mind.
How I Did It
Like I already said, I’ve been running for the past eight years and even though I had a major setback and wasn’t where I use to be, I was still running a few times a week. When I decided to run the half-marathon with only three weeks of training, I was extremely over-confident.
Thankfully I have the best support system ever that encourages any idea I have, no matter how insane it is. There’s no way I could have done this without the people in my life, guiding me through a brand new experience or encouraging me when I got cold feet and began doubting myself.
Because I am so lucky, my best friend turned roommate’s mom is a half-marathoner herself and last time she visited us she promised to send me her training schedule. With the help of her program and another one that I found online, I was set.
The only problem was that these were 18 and 12 week programs and I had to do it all in three. Good luck to me, right?
In the end, I mostly just winged it, combining the two plans and doing what I thought felt best for me personally as a runner. I alternated between longer and shorter runs, generally getting around four to six miles on an average run.
I had my longer days where I would run between eight and ten miles but the run that made me finally realize that I could do this half-marathon was the Sunday two weeks before the race when I ran 12 miles for the first time in my life. I’ve never run that far before and it’s probably one of my top favorites runs to date. You really can’t beat West Virginia scenery.
The second week of my training proved to be a challenge because that’s when I could feel all the injuries coming. I felt guilty giving myself a rest day since I was so behind in training but I knew if I actually wanted to make it to the race I was going to have to take a few days off. Out of the total 21 days of training I didn’t run four of those and that was probably my saving grace. It was hard letting myself sit and rest but I know it would’ve been harder if I hadn’t.
Diet wise I didn’t change mine much. Of course, I tried to eat somewhat healthier than I had been but I’ve never been good at forcing myself to stick to a regulated plan. I was hydrating more than ever (like I should have been prior to this but we’re not perfect people) and drinking less of others things, but over all my training focused more on running than my nutrition.
The biggest thing that got me through all of this was my drive. I haven’t wanted something this badly in a long time and that’s how I actually did it. No matter how much training, how much dieting, how much preparing you do, none of it matters if you don’t want it.
But More Importantly, Why
I’ve talked about what led me here and I’ve talked about how I did it but I think what the most important thing is why I did it.
Yes, I’ve always wanted to do one, but that’s every runner’s goal. As stubborn as I am, I feel the need to prove myself. Not to other people but to myself. I wanted to show myself that I could come back from a devastating injury stronger and better than before.
Thanks to the Columbus Marathon and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I finally had a place to do that, not to mention an even better cause to support while doing it. I’ve always been interested in philanthropy and plan to pursue it as a career after college so it’s only right that my first half-marathon be dedicated to the amazing children fighting for themselves every day.
I’m extremely grateful for this experience and can definitely say, like others, I’m officially addicted to the marathon life. Who knows when I’ll do my next one but there will be a next one, I know that much.
Oh, and I totally did it for the medal.