This weekend marked the end of my first week of half-marathon training. One down, just four more to go.

Crikey, just writing that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

A combined total of five weeks is not really ideal when training for a half marathon. Any running expert will tell you that. But there is a reason behind it all.

I’ll be doing the Autumn Shakespeare Half Marathon on 14 November in memory of my nan, who sadly passed away last month. She was a dedicated volunteer at the Stroke Club, so any funds raised from doing this will go towards the Stroke Association.

She was also a woman of her word. If she made a promise, she’d stick to it. She took the pioneers pledge as a youngster and so never touched a drop of alcohol in her life. This was despite being born in a bar and working in licensed establishments all of her life.

So, in the same vein, I’m now committing myself to doing this. Gawd!

It all started after my sister set up a dedications page in memoriam of our nan so that people could make donations in lieu of sending flowers. From that page, JustGiving gives you the option of doing an event in someone’s memory, and I knew that the Autumn Shakespeare Half was due to be held a few days before my nan’s birthday, so it seemed fitting.

The free biscuit you get at the end of the race also may have played a small part.

I’m not what you’d call a natural distance runner (in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not Kenyan). My genetics are more suited to sprinting, which is what I used to do in my youth, but I was hardly great at that either.

My training loosely consists of runs of 3M/5M/3M on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a longer run (increasing in distance each week) on Friday. I’ll post weekly blogs about my training leading up to the race, mainly so that it can be held up as an example of how not to prepare for a half marathon.

Week one

I’d done a couple of runs earlier in the week (5.2M on Tuesday at 8:14/mi pace and 3.1M on Thursday at 7:46/mi pace), but my first proper training run – the one in which I felt as though I was properly testing myself – was an 8M run on Friday 9 October; five weeks and one day until race day.

It felt okay and I was happy enough with my pace and the fact that the second half was faster than the first. But the thought of doing a run that was five miles farther still terrified me.

A few days later, I flew out to Ireland for my nan’s funeral. I had planned on running on Monday but wasn’t able to fit it in amid the travelling, but I did a couple of runs on the Tuesday (6M at 7:59/mi) and Wednesday (4.1M at 7:58/mi).

A photo posted by @jonmulk on

The area in which we were staying was pretty remote but it was incredibly scenic. Apart from being chased by a dog from one of the neighbouring farms, the runs were pretty enjoyable. And it was nice to be able to take in the surroundings of the county in which my nan grew up.

I ended the first training week with my longest run to date, 9.7M at 8:20/mi pace. I took a bit of a wrong turn and ran through a field of cows (for a moment I thought I was back in Ireland), but I got through it.

A photo posted by @jonmulk on

As with the long run one week prior, I was a bit quicker in the final few miles. But the prospect of doing a run that’s 25% farther than that is still something that scares me.

This week has also made me realise how difficult it can be to fit in training runs. I’m not really a morning person, so I’ll only attempt a morning run if I’ve had a decent night’s sleep (which is rare). Daytime runs are tricky to fit in during work days, while evening runs are getting trickier with the nights getting darker earlier (we live in a fairly rural area with very few street lamps).

Anyway, there’s no backing out now. Onwards and upwards into next week…

End-of-week total: 19.7 miles.

(I can hear Dennis Kimetto shaking in his boots)


  1. Maureen says: October 20, 2015 • 01:07:22

    You are crazy but I really admire you. Your nan would be really proud!

    Just chant cake cake cake during those last horrible miles.

  2. Wei says: October 22, 2015 • 03:10:52

    The important thing is not to go out faster than 14 minutes in the first 5k! The WR can wait till your 2nd attempt…you’ll need time to feel right about the event, as good as you are 😉

  3. Jon Mulkeen says: October 22, 2015 • 09:10:11

    Sound advice. Zersenay Tadese can sleep easy. For now…

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