I’m training for the Sheffield Half Marathon. Its the second time that I have done it but this year I am aiming to do it in two hours or less (not a lot less, 1:59 would suit me fine).

The idea was to take the whole training thing seriously but with six weeks to go I still hadn’t embarked on a training plan (most of them give you a 12 week lead up – whoops). Starting to panic slightly, a couple of weeks ago I spent a weekend immersed in women’s health, fitness and running magazines and ended up more confused that ever – it turns out if you want to take this running lark seriously it can be pretty intense.

Its about way more than putting on your trainers (more about that later) and hitting the road/treadmill. Typically in a week you should be looking to do four runs – you’ve got your easy run, your tempo run, speed work or a Fartlek run, your long run. Then you need to know about your times – your 5K pace, your 1 mile pace, your 10K pace, your half marathon pace – apart from an interval session every now and again I literally run the same pace all of the time. That’s not to say I haven’t got faster over the years, I’ve just never really thought about pacing myself and taking it a bit slower on the longer training runs.

I have been using a half marathon training plan from the running bug as a guide. I haven’t been sticking to it religiously but I can definitely feel a difference from incorporating a tempo and regular speed sessionĀ  and I do feel that I am challenging myself more. The big test will be this weekend – I am aiming for 13km which will be the longest run I have done in a while.

So once you have your training plan sorted you need your kit. I have been working out in a pair of really old trainers for years – last time I ran the half marathon they did cause me problems and this time I decided I needed to invest in a pair of properly fitted shoes.

In the end it all happened a bit fast – I popped into Up and Running in Leeds one lunch time to enquire about trainers and before I knew it I was handing over my credit card and leaving the shop with a shiny new pair.

The whole process was a really good experience – I know I am late to the party on this but it was a novelty so bear with me! They have a look at your feet (make you balance on one leg and walk up and down) and then get you in a pair of trainers and film you running on a treadmill. They slow down the footage to watch how you land when you run – I was pretty normal it turns out. Then they get you a load of trainers that suit your feet.

The weird thing was not being able to buy a pair of trainers based on the colour/design. I was almost swayed into a pair of Asics that I really liked the colour of (I couldn’t help it), but in the end I went for a pair of Nike New Balance because they were a lot lighter.

Now, the sales woman was pretty good – she was great at the whole fitting process and then at the end swooped in to seal the deal by selling me a pair of running socks (she must have been on track for a bonus that week). They do make me feel like a pro though, they have a ‘L’ and ‘R’ on each one to make sure you have them on the right feet!

So, I have the plan, I have the trainers and the socks – no more excuses. I will let you know how I get on at the end of May.