"Back to the wall", story of a RUN IN LYON preparation, 21km105

After starting running and doing a few small races, Thomas decided to prepare and embark on the Lyon half-marathon in 2018. He shares with us the experience of his half-marathon preparation as a beginner runner. Immerse yourself in his running experience with him.


I have been running for two years without being really regular. Aware of needing a challenge to move forward, I decided to run and prepare for a half-marathon. It will be in Lyon on October 08, 2018. At this time, running 15 kms nails me to the couch for two days. Suffice to say that the challenge is great for a beginner like me. I decide not to set myself a time goal. Honestly, the prospect of finishing already seems so huge to me that it is enough to motivate me. For the first time in two years I decided to do a real preparation. In reality, I'm as scared to get started as I want to fight it out. Preparation time has come!

Credits: Matthieu KCR


I talked about it with friends who run more than me, read a lot of articles on the internet and three sessions a week seem to me to be a minimum to live the race well. To live it well is not to end up in the red and to take the maximum pleasure. Three sessions is also the maximum that my schedule allows me. I decide to work on both endurance and speed. What I remember from my preparation is the importance of varying the sessions: it avoids getting tired and progress is faster. For a beginner, the hardest thing is to be consistent. So I decide to start three types of training per week:

  1. - A session of about 10 km, at the threshold. That is to say at a slightly faster pace than the race, but without getting into the red. A tiring session in general but not the worst of the week either.
  2. - A split session, with 20 minutes of warm-up, 10 to 15 minutes of exercise and 20 minutes of recovery. The split itself consisted of sets of 30 seconds at full speed and 30 seconds of recovery. It was the “death session” for me, but in terms of speed and cardio it is very effective.
  3. - A long outing at a slow pace, less than that of the race in my case, between 15 and 21 km.


At the beginning of July I am motivated like never before. Only I am a student, on an internship and I live in Lyon. Result: Little time for me, and a big heat wave. It's a bit of a concern with the races in the fall, you have to prepare for them in the summer.

Late shoot, bright colors and community involved. Credits Matthieu KCR

It rhymes with heat, internships for students, and vacations that don't really help eating well and getting up early to go running. To counter this heat, I sign up for a gym with the firm intention of running on the treadmill. And then I remember that I hate running on a treadmill. When I get off the machine my head spins like after a ride on a roller coaster and I am systematically nauseated. I usually prefer to run in the mountains or in nature, the escape is greater than in the city, the carpet very little for me.

So I fall back on indoor cycling. Lots of indoor cycling. RPM for cardio and endurance sessions of at least 20 km each time. I really recommend the RPM, for the heart it's super good. Half an hour of very intensive session rinses me completely and it's a good way to do split training differently. I know they say cycling is a good addition, but running 5 times in a month isn't the plan: I'm finishing July with my spirits down and the feeling that I'm not going to make it.

I don't know if it's me or beginner's syndrome, but my spirits have been yo-yoing all summer. But hey, I don't let myself be defeated and attack the month of August with the firm intention of getting down to business. And the real start of my training has a good surprise in store for me.


That's when I felt the click. I quickly realize that the bike has paid off. I'm going to my grandparents on vacation. First morning, first training on the seafront and I have a hell of a potato. I feel like someone replaced my legs and put in a new heart since my last outing. I'm just exaggerating.

Clearly the time in the gym has paid off and I feel pumped up. In addition, alone here, I don't have much else to do than throw myself fully into training. I do all the planned sessions and even more since I even manage to do two outings on certain days! Intervals in the morning and a quieter outing in the evening, a walk more than anything else.

The evening walk can also be shared ;)!


One morning I come across in the newspaper an ad for a 12 km not far from there. I decide to register and show up at the start all smiles and motivated by my training and the good weather. I take a good lesson, motivated I leave much too quickly. And on a hot day, 28° at 9:30 a.m., that does not forgive.

And indeed, I totally explode, I think about giving up and I end up alternating running and walking. But I finish in an hour what remains reasonable and encouraging in this state. I write down the lesson for October, always start at a comfortable pace and pick up speed as you go.

The balance sheet of the stay is ultra positive, I finally have the click to train regularly and learned from the bad experience of the race.


I end the month of August with a ten-day stay in the mountains. I'm a little afraid when I arrive not to make enough distance. Training in the mountains is not the same thing, the elevation means that you necessarily go slower and the sessions are shorter. But as the bike the elevation is great, and it gives the fund!

Credits: Pierre Louis Rey

This is the case, I actually do less distance than expected, but swallowing 1400 m of elevation gain in a week, for me who almost never does, it's worth all the bodybuilding sessions in the world. Running in the middle of nature makes me much more serene and calm than in town, which gives me a boost of motivation.

Coming back to Lyon at the end of August, I feel that my training with the grandparents and in the mountains is having an effect. I go faster, I do longer sessions (easily around 17 km) and I recover much faster. So it doesn't matter if the terrain and the sessions are not exactly as planned, training is training, even more so for a beginner: any type of effort is beneficial.

Results for the month of August, 106 km traveled and 1550 m of elevation gain. I realize that's more than half the distance I've covered in two years. I tell myself that even if I don't finish in October the progress made is worth it, and that in any case I will finish it this half marathon.


Still a student, the month of September therefore rhymes for me with the start of the school year. This period was very difficult: the resumption of classes caused a lot of fatigue and I felt it in my training. I had the impression for two weeks of having no more gasoline in the engine. Heavy legs, shortness of breath... a real ordeal! A few weeks before the race, you have to know how to accept it mentally and not get discouraged. If that happens, we must not forget that we cannot be 100% every day. Don't give up and the training will pay off. The hardest sessions are the ones that make the most progress.

And yet, on my side, I hung on, I continued, I still ran a hundred kilometers in September. In the end, I didn't stop training for two months and it paid off: I completed the half-marathon in 2:03 hours. If I have to sum up the experience: yes I had pain everywhere, yes I I thought several times of not succeeding; but to feel his physical condition improve, the progress happen, and above all the satisfaction of finishing the race, it was really worth it.

Indeed, I have evolved a lot physically and mentally and I can say that I did it with a certain pride. My feeling in the last kilometer between pain and emotion to finish was exhilarating. So if another beginner tells me today that he is hesitating to get started, I tell him to go for it without hesitation. Now I feel stronger and ready to start over and embark on new adventures: this summer in the Chartreuse mountains.

Article written by Thomas Gauthier, for his first half marathon.

Thomas ran in NOSC gear throughout his preparation.

The challenge is daunting, but nothing is impossible!

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