I read something recently about the similarity between running a race and drinking alcohol. You enjoy the high of the race in the same way you would enjoy a drink, but with none of the after effects that a few too many pints might leave you with.
I’m yet to experience a race that I’ve enjoyed quite as much as an ice cold pint on a warm day, but it did make me think. Runner’s high is something I’ve always experienced post run, and unlike alcohol you never feel worse after or regret a run you did. You regret the ones you were too lazy to do.
The Manchester Half Marathon is always a fun day in the calendar, I’ve done the last couple now and it’s a day where the whole city comes out to watch, run and enjoy a great (and cold) day out. At no point on the course is there a lack of fans with signs, singing and applauding you on to finish the 13.1 mile route.
It’s also the perfect race to get a personal best time as it’s the flattest race in the UK, very little elevation and as everyone knows with Manchester as a city, it’s never really that warm here so conditions likely won’t get the best of you.
In fact, the 2023 edition was freezing. It took me around 10k for me to get any kind of feeling in my hands. But it had that crisp autumn air that led to a lovely day out.
My training went really well, I planned everything out meticulously. I was on a 12 week plan thanks to my Garmin Forerunner 965, which honestly was a game changer. The tech in the watch allowed me to see how my training was helping me over time, how my performance was affected by a bad night’s sleep or a big one the night before.
Most of all, it kept me on track. It told me what I needed to do and when based on the information I gave it before I started training. It also has maps and GPS built in, notifying me of my time after each kilometre so no more constantly checking Strava on my phone or Google Maps to know where I’m going.
It also taught me that in order to hit your PB, it's not about running at your maximum pace on every training run, but endurance. Longer runs at a lighter pace in order to build your stamina up, and throw in one run a week at your ideal race time.
I'm quite bad at pacing consistently on my own, so my plan was to stick with one of the many incredible pacers at the Manchester half. My aim was to stay as close as possible to the 01:45 pacer and see if I could kick on towards the end.
I ended the race with an official time of 01:42:15 and to say that I was happy with that is an understatement. My previous PB was 01:50:37 so to shave a full eight minutes off my time was a very, very happy surprise.
You can see my splits in the picture above via my Strava.
Next is the full marathon in April next year. I've never done one of those before. Let's see what happens...