13 Miles? What Have I Done?!



In a moment of utter madness today I agreed to sign up for the Great Birmingham Run, a half marathon, in October.

13 miles. Sh*t.

One of my colleagues excitedly asked me if I wanted to join the rest of the faculty, who had all agreed to take part, and before I had time to think I found myself agreeing to it. If my friends can do it, so can I, and I can raise some money for a good cause too.

Indeed, I’ve been inspired by a number of people recently. My friend Rob has just completed the London Marathon and as I was watching the highlights the other day in the hope of seeing him, I was thinking to myself that I would like to do that one day. My friend K, who is now thankfully in remission from breast cancer, is doing the Race For Life with her daughters in June.

But 13 miles? Sh*t!

When I was in my teenage years, I was extremely fit. I swam for a team, played badminton for a team and had my brown belt in karate. I did horse riding and represented the school in cross country. I had a strong, muscular body. I even had a six pack.

However, when I went to university, I stopped exercising, drank lots of alcohol and started smoking more, and consequently put on weight. Lots of weight. The Freshman 15 became more like the Freshman 50, and over the years it has continued to increase. My six pack has turned into a barrel. At the age of 33, I am now overweight, unfit and extremely unhealthy, and I absolutely hate it.

Before my 30th birthday, I bought a dress to wear for my birthday night out. It was strapless, black and so expensive that I almost cried when handing the money over. However, it was just a little bit too tight, highlighting the least flattering parts of my body, and so I decided to start running to lose some weight.

I remember that first attempt. I bought the recommended running apps, sorted out an inspiring playlist, gave myself a goal and set off with a positive attitude, determined to do at least a mile. By the time I had reached the end of my road, I thought I was going to die. My face had turned bright purple, my heart was beating out of my chest and I was covered in sweat. I turned round and walked back home.

I had done less than half a mile, and had walked half of it.

However, over a period of months, I gradually built up my distance, until it got to the point where I could do 5km without breaking a sweat, and I found that I actually started to enjoy it. Actually, that’s a lie, I enjoyed the feeling that I had after I had finished the run. I hated it when I was actually out there.

It worked – I wore the dress and felt good.

Three years later, I have slipped back into old habits. I’ve put on the weight I lost, and then some. My smoking has increased again, and I have turned to food as comfort in times of stress. I’m tired all the time, I can’t fit into any of my favourite clothes, and I have started to dread the warmer seasons because I can’t hide my wobbly bits underneath hooded sweaters.

I’m not concerned about being ‘thin’ – I think that women of all shapes and sizes can look equally as beautiful – but I want my strength back again. I want to be able to fit back into flattering clothes again. I don’t want to feel like I’m going to pass out every time I run for the bus. I’ve talked about it on the blog before, but never really followed up with anything. Now, I’m paying money (which I never joke about), I’m making promises to my friends, and I’m making myself accountable to thousands on readers online. Now, I have to do it. Indeed, I need to do it.

amyAt the beginning of this year I set myself some small goals that I didn’t initially share with anyone else: change my job, and lose some weight. I’m well on the way with the first one, and this weekend will be the start of the second.

But 13 miles???? SH*T! Do you think they would let me run it horizontally?

Advice is needed here people…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and dont forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

126 thoughts on “13 Miles? What Have I Done?!

  1. I wish I could even think about running, but my knees and back won’t let me. I applaud you for saying “yes” and making it public here. I’ll get out my pompoms and cheer for you along the way. Go Suzie! Rah! Rah! Sh*t!

  2. Good luck! *waves pom poms* In 2011, I did the C25K program (in 8 weeks instead of 9) and I loved it, which was very surprising as I have always hated running. I love walking and dancing but I never was a runner and yet I had a blast doing it. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m rooting for you!

    I’m trying to get into better shape too, running is out of the question due to a leg injury, but I’d like to be able to ride my bike long distances again. I’ve been working up to it on a stationary bike, it’s going very slow.

    Keep us updated!

    • Thanks so much Jim, and good luck to you too! I’ll certainly be updating everyone occasionally, but I’ll be careful not to bore everyone with every run I go for! Let me know how you get on too!

    • Shorai – my sensei was a former world champion. Unfortunately, I quit 6 months before going for my black belt because of my GCSE exams – I still remember my katas though!

      That’s really interesting! Do you still do it now?

  4. My wife runs a lot–mostly 10Ks but the occasional half, with a few full marathons thrown in. I cheer, encourage, and applaud. Good luck–I’m envious of the accomplishment, but not enough to be devoted to the training.

  5. I’ve done the Birmingham half marathon four times now and the silverstone half marathon too! This will be no problem for you if you train properly! I’m usually running at edgbaston reservoir most weekends, you should join me! I managed to get my friend trained up last year, and she made it round, so I reckon we can easily get you across the finish line!

      • I’ve had a couple of weeks off, but I’m back on it this weekend hopefully. Should be meeting my friend on Sunday morning, let us know if you fancy joining in, I’m usually there most weekends!

      • That’s a really nice offer – thanks! I’m afraid i can’t this weekend as I’m up north, but i will certainly take you up on the offer in future weeks!

      • Oh I didn’t mean this weekend necessarily, I just meant generally. Just make sure you keep it regular, that’s the key, oh and forget about the pace, just focus on distance for now!

      • Watching people get motivated for a challenge like this really excites me! That feeling when you cross the finish line is so totally worth every second of training and pain leading up to it! You’re going to be ace! Let’s get our run on, one weekend!

  6. I don’t run, so no advice from me! I like walking so much better πŸ™‚

    But I wish you much luck! I know you can do it, especially if you have some past experience with exercising and such.

    • Thank you very much! I’m not really a fan of walking – my mother loves to walk for miles but i get agitated after a while… I think she takes the time to appreciate where she is and what she’s doing – perhaps i need to learn something from that!

  7. I’m doing my first 10k and first half both in February. I’m in the same boat as you. About the same age (34), about the same level of fitness (50 lbs more than high school, about 20-25 lbs overweight). I actually pretty much hate running straight, though, so I do the Galloway method (walk/run intervals) and I find that I am actually fast that way and enjoy my workouts. I don’t understand the appeal of running straight. I don’t think my body was made for that. LOL. Good luck — you can do it!

  8. Go, go Suzie! I keep wanting to get into running but then life gets in the way. maybe I need to switch that around a little bit πŸ™‚

  9. Given an October race date, that gives you five months to train. In 2006, I went from walking 20 minutes three times a week in January to full-on racing a 1/2 marathon in late July. That a bit more time than you have, but there are a number of training online training plans that would work with your time frame. This is the one I used http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51131/Half-Marathon-Novice-1-Training-Program and it’s only 12 weeks. But I’m sure you can browse online and fine others. But if you could get up to regularly running 5km, you’ll be able to finish this. Good luck!

  10. Oh, I can hear you! I’m about to start Nordic Walking (Running is no option due to knee issues). I have a lot of nature around me where I live, even a river, so Nordic Walking will be perfect. I will start with a small tour in my neighbourhood, and then gradually increase time and speed. My goal is to do a long hike in a very hilly surrounding in fall this year. It’s one of the famous hiking trails in my home region. So we can keep each other posted on the progress πŸ™‚

  11. I am turning 40 years old next week and one of my goals this year to celebrate was to run a half marathon. Now that the weather is nicer, I have been running every day to get back into it again. It feels awesome! You have plenty of time to train your body and pass that finish line with a big smile! So excited for you! πŸ‘

  12. You can do it! You can! Really! I’m running the Chicago Marathon in October and believe me when I tell you that you have plenty of time to train for your half. You’re probably going to have to run 3-4 times a week (and always remember to stretch after your runs!) with long runs on the weekends. It will be tough but I know you can do it. And by the time October rolls around, you will be in the best shape! You’ll see. πŸ™‚

    • That’s brilliant! Congrats – such a brave thing to do! Keep me posted with how you’re getting on and thanks so much for your support! You can do it too!

  13. Yes that is slightly crazy indeed! I was a runner once until a herniated disc put an abrupt stop to it. I started doing the ‘brisk walking thing’ and all of a sudden I was taken over by Forrest Gump and couldn’t stop – so “run Suzie run”. Hope you find you inner Forrest soon πŸ™‚

    • Haha! When I was paying the fees I had the scene from Forrest Gump in my head. Wish I could be running across the Arizona Desert like he did… Stunning!

  14. I think many of us can empathise with this story! I can’t run but in the last 6 weeks I signed up to the gym and do 2 or 3 cardio classes a week plus some weights stuff. I feel so much better in myself, both mentally and physically. You can complete this goal and all for a great cause.

    Good Luck and I look forward to hearing more of the story

    • Thanks so much! I’ll certainly be bugging everyone soon to start sponsoring me so I’ll definitely keep you all updated! Good luck with you’re own fitness adventures – let me know how you’re getting on with it!

  15. Best of luck with this!

    I’m not really a good source of advice on training and fitness, being 34 and overweight myself. But, I’ve recently been following the Slimming World food plan and have so far dropped 12 pounds in about 5 weeks. I feel much better and have more energy and for the past week have started doing a bit of exercise (situps / pressups / squats / starjumps) for about 30 minutes.
    I find it’s working really well πŸ™‚

    • 12 pounds?! That’s fantastic – congratulations! I’m hoping to lose some of my blubbery bits too! Keep me posted and I’ll certainly do the same!

  16. Welcome to the world of people who do masochistic sh!t for fun, or better known to the world as endurance athletes! I have had the “what have I done”, followed by “this was a bad decision”, a few times, you are not alone! To reiterate what others have said, you definitely have enough time to reach your goal. Off the top of my head here are a few tips based off of my half training. (This may get wordy). Oh and to preface, I’m not a rock star runner. I’m not fast but I like a challenge.
    -Ramp up your mileage slowly. Starting with your 5k training program is a great idea, it will get your body into the running mode and slowly build your distance. There are plenty of training plans for half marathons online. Once you are back to a 5k take a look at them and take the parts of them that seem feasible and come up with your own training plan. And set your runs around days/times that are convenient for you. If your Wednesday’s are packed, don’t schedule a run for Wednesday, it’s setting yourself up for failure.
    -Mix up your runs. It’s easy to give up/dread a run when it’s the same thing each time. Try varying your route if possible. Another good way is to do different styles of workouts. When I train for a half I usually do 3 or 4 runs a week. I’ll do a “normal” get out and run, a tempo run (faster paced/comfortably hard), intervals (30-60 second sprint, 2-5 minutes recovery jog), and a long slower run. I don’t recommend mixing those in until you get back into the swing of things and can run a 5k fairly comfortably.
    -If you have time, cross-train.
    -Work on your core. Having a stronger core will help your running, among other things.
    -Don’t forget to rest! Depending on how much you are working out take one (or two) rest days a week. And take a rest week now and then. Your body needs to recover!
    -Check out the race rules, some races won’t let you wear headphones. If that’s the case at somepoint you will need to run without music.
    -Check out the race course. If it’s hilly practice running hills. If it’s a slow downhill, run slow downhills.
    -Walk if you need to. Especially while building up distance, if you have to walk, walk. Then when you recovered, continue running.
    -Know your body and how it handles running. Work through your body hurting but if you are in pain, stop.
    -If you think you have an injury, get it checked out. And take time off if you need to. Even though I do it regularly, running through and injury is a bad idea.
    -For sore joints, heat will do more good than ice. This is counter-intuitive of traditional medical wisdom (at least here in the states) but when I switched from doing ice to heat, my nagging joint pain decreased greatly.
    -Don’t get stuck in the trap of “oh the race is so far off I can put off training”. You may not need to get yourself running 13.1 in 2 months but you WILL need to get yourself there in 5. If you have a solid base of 5 miles or so getting up to 13.1 won’t be as challenging. I usually put off training (I have a 15k in a month and am only up to 4 miles) and while I always reach my goal, it’s never easy/pretty.
    -An issue I have is looking at the good/fast runners and feel bad about how much slower/worse I am (if only I could be like them…) The best advice I got from a good runner is that what they are doing is just as hard for them as what I am doing is for me. I’m pushing myself and while they are at a higher level, they aren’t taking it easy, they are pushing themselves too.
    -Buy running/exercise clothes that you like and are comfortable in. It’s easier to get our the door if you like your outfit. Since you WILL be losing weight hold off on getting the expensive stuff for now, unless you have an abundance of money in which case buy top end stuff!
    -Buy good running shoes. If your feet hurt, running will be no fun. If there is a store there where runners will fit you and give you advice, go there. It may cost a bit more but you will save yourself the anguish of poorly fitting shoes. If not, check out articles online as to what shoes should be good for your feet.
    -Have a positive outlook (obviously) At this point it’s too late to back out, so go forward saying you can/will do this. It may not be pretty or fast, but you can do it.
    -It is easy to beat yourself mentally. I have slumps in races where things seem hopeless, especially since I know I’m not at all close to placing. I come up with a race day mantra to keep me going. Some of mine are “not dead, keep moving” “I’m a we are strong, we are fierce, we don’t quit” “You can do anything for 2 minutes (or a quarter mile, or some other measurement)” “you’ve got this”

    Sorry to be super wordy. My brain dump of advice has a tendency of being verbose. Good luck and you CAN do this πŸ™‚

      • You’re welcome! Feel free to contact me if you need any more ideas/advice/a cheerleader. Hope your training is going well, the first couple of runs are always the hardest

  17. 13 miles is a lot! But I’m proud of you for taking a risk and working to get back in shape! I need to do the same. Signing up for an event always helped me stay on my running goals (although I was doing 5Ks, not half-marathons).

  18. The first question I would ask myself if I were confronted with this situation, and asked to make a decision to participate, is to ask myself, “Can I walk 13 miles?”

  19. My husband is a runner, but I can’t do it. I admire anyone who tries and I’ll be rooting you on! I like that you made yourself accountable in these ways – it’s the best way to do it! Good luck!

  20. This will be funnnnn! Bring your phone and shoot some miserable runners at the 12 mile mark. then take a selfie for us to see (and applaud). After the 5K you will be in the zone and it’ll be over before you know it!!

    • Haha! Thanks Terri – I’ve been working on an epic playlist to try and get me through it. So far, I seem to have just sorted out the Rocky soundtrack. Oh dear! There will certainly be lots of photographs!

  21. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    Swimming is one thing. I get tired just saying “marathon.” Good luck with that, I’ll meet you at the finish line with a beer. Deal? πŸ™‚ -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please visit their blog.

  22. Smoking sucks (I’ve fought it for years), but you can do this. Stick with your goals and you will feel so good once you complete them.

    • I agree – but it’s just so good at the same time! Starting it in the first place is certainly one f my regrets… I’ll do my best – thanks Gary!

  23. I admire you for signing up for 13 miles!! Holy ________! I could not imagine running 13 miles, but I will rah rah you to death! Lol

  24. i’m guessing you probably are only slightly worried ( I cheated, I only skimmed)…some days I pant after walking 13 feet…wow, you go…do it now…because some day it may seem like 13 mi to the bathroom down the hall

  25. Im trying to get ready to do one too! Haven’t officially signed up yet, but Im thinking end of summer, early fall. If I can do it, you can do it! I will cheer you and encourage you virtually!

  26. I just participated in a 9 mile, 27 obstacle Spartan Race for 6 hours on April 18th. It was a wonderful accomplishment. I started just eating better in October. Then I started on the treadmill in January. Then I decided to go to the Spartan website and Bodybuilding.com and do the real stuff. From October through mid April I lost 20 lbs and built a lot of muscle. I did the race. It was hard. I was tired. I am planning to do a smaller one in December and the same sized one next April. You can do this. We will all cheer you on. 13 miles Sh*t – I hate running too.

  27. Sorry I am not into running. I am good to walk a mile and not feel like having a heart attack. But I can say a prayer for you and root for you as you practice and do the actual run. I can only suggest to take it slow and do your best. Even if you finally get to the finish line last, at least you will have tried and made it. Good luck. πŸ™‚

  28. Well, I commend you for saying yes to this challenge, Suzie, and wish you lots of luck with it. Just see it as a fun run and think of all the people and good causes that will benefit from it.

    I did a half marathon many years ago and made the mistake of not preparing for it. I can only say that my body ached for weeks after it, but that was only because I did not do any training. In fact, out of 250 runners that day, I crossed the finishing line in 227th place, but only because some runners dropped out during the run. Two ladies crossed the finishing line after me and I was even beaten to the line by Scooby-Doo pushing a shopping trolley.

    • Thanks Hugh! I don’t think that there will be any chance of me not preparing it or I won’t stand a chance of being able to do it! Well done you for doing it, even if Scooby Doo beat you. To be fair, he is a dog, so he’s bound to be faster!

  29. 1 mile after another… you would have run 13 in no time πŸ™‚ by the time you will have finished… you would have already gone the…extraaa…mile πŸ™‚

  30. Thirteen miles does sound like a lot! But you know what, as so many others said it already, just one mile at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time. I look forward to your post titled “I did it! 13 miles was easy, onto 18!” πŸ˜‰

  31. I think you are nutts but I really commend your ambition! Be methodical and work out how quickly and how realistically you can increase your training each day until you reach your goal fitness in the time that you have before the race. Good luck!

  32. Lol!!! No advice for you Suzie! I need the advice that I might give to you! The struggle is real my sister, very real! Good luck!

  33. Great post, I so love that episode of friends, good luck with your run and you are so right its about feeling good not being thin x

  34. Good luck! Upi can do it, especially if you’ve got into running before! I feel the same to be honest, I need to get fitter but just don’t have any free time at the moment. I used to run a fair bit but found anything over 10k too much for me! If you’re doing it in a team though that should spur up on. Good luck! #sundaystars

  35. Best of luck with your training! I found the C25K program helpful, and if you run outside it’s nice to have a regular route that you like – preferably something scenic that helps distract you. πŸ™‚

  36. I’m so not built to run! T25is great for building stamina though. I always stayed away from running in case it makes my face sag!!! πŸ˜€
    Good luck!

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  38. How long do you have until the run? Don’t worry about running start to finish. Both in your workouts and the run you shouldn’t even shoot for doing the whole distance non-stop. Try interval style training and work up to the 13 miles part running/part walking. I’m sure you don’t need this advice and I didn’t read the comments. Good luck! I’m looking forward to the post about the run!

  39. October— look on the bright side; there’s plenty of time for a Major Nuclear War to erupt, or a very large comet to hit the earth. Sorry, I’m a pretty poor person to ask for advice in this matter. My only concern would be “what the heck have I done and how can I get out of it?” I have read all the serious comments and all the advice and all the training tips – best you should follow them. You mentioned that there was a big team of you and you should help each other along the way”– is this for real?? Perfect place for a bit of skullduggery and bragging rights in the staffroom. Have you never heard of “all’s fair in love and war” ? :o)

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