In a previous post I bemoaned how difficult training for a race is: the progress is slow, the training is hard, and it goes on forever.

Am I crazy for deciding to do this again? No. Here’s why I’m excited to run the Lululemon Seawheeze again, and how you can ensure you have an incredible first-half marathon experience this year as well.

1. Vancouver is my favorite place in the world. It is my hometown, and my heart literally swells with joy when I land there. Accomplishing something impossible here felt like being on top of the world.

The Tip: If you’re signing up for your first race, do it somewhere that makes you excited, not just around the block. You’ll be running where you live endlessly in training, and running in a city you love, or a place that makes you happy, will make your victory so much more meaningful. Not to mention you’ll get to explore 13.1 miles of it on race day!

The Seawheeze route in Vancouver is stunning.

The Seawheeze route in Vancouver is stunning.

2. I’ll have friends training for races during the same time period, so we’ll be on the same page.

→ The Tip: Training is tedious. I should probably stop stressing this, but no, it is. Having good friends to share training plans or run stories with will make your 3+ months of training much more enjoyable. You’re going to spend a lot more time than you expect telling people about your running, and if they’re running too, neither of you can get bored.


3. Having company on race day (and pre-race day) makes it more of a celebration than a daunting task.

→ The Tip: Going to race-events alone is a surefire way to feel more nervous that you need to be: it’s still dark, you’re about to do something that scares you, and you’re surrounded by strangers. You don’t need to be running with someone throughout the race (I don’t – I am the slowest!), but just being in it with someone you care about makes that 5am morning so much less terrifying. I recommend even having a pre-race sleepover, so you can both be on the same wavelength. You don’t want your race experience to feel like a trek before you even reach the starting line.


4. Running goals are about more than weight loss

→ The Tip: This might sound counterintuitive on a weight-loss blog, but I’m referring to performance goals vs. aesthetic goals. When I’m doing insanity or hammering out intervals on the treadmill, I am solely motivated by the HIIT workout’s function to make me smaller. Training for a race means working towards goals aside from your appearance, and it’s important to remember that your body is doing a lot of amazing things even if it’s not the shape you want it to be yet.


5. Running regularly forces you to be out in the world in an amazing new way

→ The Tip: Because of training, I ran in four countries and countless cities, and it was amazing. Having to run in whichever city I happened to be in for 5 months gave me a whole new way to experience the world. Working out in the hotel gym is a completely anonymous experience, but needing to find a route and run outside in a new place couldn’t be more distinctive. On business trips, I saw so much more of the cities I was in. Visiting friends, I got to experience their neighbourhoods and be out in the community. Even at home, I got to explore San Francisco in a whole new way. This is truly something to treasure about training, and it’s not something you’ll get on a treadmill.

Training in England

Training in San Francisco





  1. Shannon says:

    Great tips Orla! I agree 100%, and would add one more: Don’t overtrain! Nothing is worse than working for weeks toward a goal and then pushing it too hard and getting hurt (speaking from experience here). Listen to your body and back off when you need to, even if it means deviating from your training plan.

  2. Nuala says:

    It takes real determination and grit to train in an unknown city – Jet lag, weird schedules, other peoples’ agendas. Most of the obstacles are psychological or physical. What do you do at a practical level to ensure personal safety – phone apps etc?

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