How does it feel to run the Great Manchester Run?

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

With the Run just around the corner (SUNDAY !!!!) where did time go ?! I thought I would share with you Hannahs account of her experience last year :)

" Each year I watch an ever increasing number of friends and work colleagues run 5k’s, 10k’s half marathons, and even amongst the most committed of them, marathons. I get my credit card out and sponsor them for their effort from the comfort of my couch thinking ‘I’m sure I could do that’. It was always a bad year though, I’ll definitely do it next year.

Part of what had put me off was not wanting to run it on my own. The longer I left it I found that more of my friends had ticked it off their bucket list and so I had nobody to talk to about my training or get excited about it with.

I finally took the leap and signed up for the Great Manchester Run, Manchester’s largest 10k race, when a local charity were putting together a team and wanted people to run for them. This was it, part of a team and for a great local cause, so before I knew it I was signed up.

It was 3 months away, and training commenced. I went on my first outdoor run with the objective of running 5km and got a stich after about 2! Not so easy. Tempted to flag a black cab to drive me back round the corner, I jogged gently home. I concluded that I had gone out too soon after eating my breakfast and so lesson 1 was learned.

Being quite competitive I didn’t want to feel defeated so the next day, this time prepared with a running playlist of upbeat anthems, I tried again. After a strong start, I managed my 5k and felt exhilarated when I got back indoors. I felt awake and energised. I knew then that I was going to enjoy this training.

I had set the goal of going on 2 runs per week and decided that my first attempt didn’t count so I needed to find time to go out again. Time was not my issue. 2 days after I’d run 5km I was walking like a penguin and lowering myself on to the sofa with my arms! I hadn’t stretched before or after my run and so lesson 2 was learned.

Feeling refocussed the following week it was time to get up and face the elements. Anyone who lives or who has lived in Manchester knows all about our ‘unique’ elements. Rain! I was not prepared for running in the rain and the thought of getting cold and wet when I’d just got out of my nice warm bed was not appealing….I’ll skip today and run tomorrow instead.

Tomorrow never came. Weeks started to creep by and I wasn’t training. I’d started off so well, where had my motivation gone?

One month before the Great Manchester Run and £250 raised for charity, it dawned on me that I had to participate whether I liked it or not. I had committed to the charity and to all those friends and family who had kindly sponsored me. I couldn’t exactly refund them all! It was time to get out there.

I bought a new pair of trainers to motivate me and set off to see how far I could get. My fitness wasn’t too bad, I had eaten porridge about an hour before so I was feeling energised, and I managed to run to the beat of my music for 4km when my feet started hurting. Having run 4km’s from anywhere means you have to run 4km’s back and peeling off my trainers, I had a big old blister on the back of one of my feet. Hobbling back home I realised that I should not have run in new trainers, lesson 3 was learned.

It took a few days for my feet to recover and with the aid of a few plasters I went out again. This time I set the goal of running 6km but I could run and walk if I needed to. For the first time, I managed without any major failings. 3 weeks to go before the day, I decided that this was my new strategy. I needed to get my body used to the distance and enduring exercise for a long period of time, whatever my speed.

Slowly building up my distance over the final couple of weeks I made it to running 8km with one walking break. I had read somewhere that marathon runners often don’t run the full distance until the day as the atmosphere and crowd spurs them on in their last miles and this would be my strategy too. I wouldn’t run 10km until the day. Apparently (I found out afterwards) that doesn’t apply to 10k’s!

The day was finally upon me and I rock up to Portland Street to join the Blue wave. That was my colour category based on the time I’d predicted I’d run the course in…based on little more than the time I wanted to run the course in to maintain some pride. Fitness level, training etc., all the important stuff did not factor in to my prediction. It was my goal.

I had my runners’ number with me but had not attached it, expecting to do that once I arrived. If anyone who is reading this is running the Great Manchester Run, then please note, they do NOT provide safety pins for attaching your number to your clothes. Make sure you do this before you arrive to save you from dashing in to WH Smith, or doing what I did and pleading with other runners for any spares!

Time for the much needed warm up. Jumping to see the celebrity who is demonstrating different warm up moves, as one person in a sea of colourful running gear, I stretch it out in the street and jog on the spot to keep warm until the starting gun fires. We’re off….I high five Denise Lewis, athlete and Gold Olympic Medallist, as I fly past the starting line. The first thing that hits me is the mix of abilities. It is an obstacle course of fancy dress and multi-coloured charity t-shirts. Wanting to achieve my target time, I navigate round the tutus and illuminous sweat bands.

My second piece of advice to anyone who is taking part in the Great Manchester Run for the first time would be to pace yourself at the beginning. I know that sounds obvious, and I knew it too, but the first third of the course is uphill. The second third is relatively flat and the final third is downhill. That makes the final third sound easy but you’d be surprised how much knackered legs want to just roll down the hill…

Battling against the wind and trying to keep hold of my runners number secured with just 2 borrowed safety pins, I soldiered up Chester Road and made it to Old Trafford. Result. I hit the flat ground and had to slow down for a rest. Knowing that my supporters were waiting for me not too far ahead, I picked up the pace again so that they didn’t see me walking! Seeing your friends and family is a great motivation and having them near the middle or end really does help you keep going. I was feeling proud and confident and the finish line seemed achievable.

That was until….water! Water is a good thing. We need water when we exercise, to keep us hydrated. I was thirsty. There was free water. I drank water. Only, I had never drank water during any of my practise runs because it was awkward to hold and was added weight. Not long after that I had a stitch, with 3km’s to go. Those 3km’s felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life. I was so close to the end that the best thing was just to get through it and then have a sit down. I had cupcakes waiting for me at the finish line. The thought of a cup of tea and well-earned cupcake got me through the final distance. As the Hilton drew closer I could see the clock and it was a race against time to hit my goal. Powering through, I finished in a respectable 58 minutes.

Seat – check. Cupcakes – check. Happy Days. I put on my medal so that everyone knew I had run the Great Manchester Run and dug in to my reward.

My final piece of advice to anyone who is running for the first time…don’t sit down straight after you’ve finished the race unless you plan on staying in that seat for a good long while. Muscles seized – check."

#greatmanchesterrun #raceday #running #training

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