Half Marathon Training With a Vitamin Deficiency

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | training

Sep 29

I am so excited to share with you a special guest post from Emily of Wannabe Awesome Me, a fellow City Fit Girls Ambassador!  She will be sharing her experiences as a runner who recently discovered she had a vitamin deficiency.

I hope this post will inspire, educate, and give you some perspective on how we all have different running journeys!

Learn about how to deal with a vitamin deficiency while training for half marathons from @emily1852! #runchat #sweatpink #cityfitgirls Share on X

Learn about Emily's journey with a vitamin deficiency!

The Vitamin Deficient Diva

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC was my best half marathon…I PR’d it at 2:02:58 and my hopes were high that I could run a sub-2 hour half marathon in mid-May, almost two months after RnRDC. However, one month in my calf muscles started to hurt and I would stop my runs crying. Right around the same time, I was having issues with my extremities. Long story short (which you could read about here), I came to the conclusion that I had vitamin B-12 and D deficiencies.

How Did This Impact Me?

I had to force myself out of bed some mornings, I gained weight, I was irritable, and my calf muscles hurt when running such that I couldn’t run more than 1/2 mile without stopping to stretch.

I realized that my sub-2 goal race wasn’t going to happen. I’ve only been running for about a year and a half and this was my first race I’ve ever deferred. Between deferring and not feeling well, I felt like my body, that I once thought was this incredible thing, was letting me down. My husband suggested that I might want to stop running. I mentally suggested he go to hell. I started taking vitamin D and getting monthly B-12 shots in May and saw glimpses of my former self. I started using the Galloway method to run because it’s the only way I could run. And run/walk intervals are better than not running at all.

May was extremely difficult for me. I struggled to get 25 miles in for the month, which was my lowest monthly running total since I started running. But, I try to look at things through an action lens. I had to accept that I’m nowhere near where I was; that those days are gone (at least for now).


Measured Progress

For the longest time, I would look at my pace and compare it to my RnRDC pace or my “normal” pace (between 9-9:30). That was the yardstick by which I measured each run. Some days were great when I was in that range. But as I started running more, the pace slowed. So I had to stop measuring against my old self. Instead, I focused on other things. The tough thing for me is that I like measuring myself. So, instead of pace, I decided to see if I could get to 35 miles for June. I certainly appreciated National Running Day and kicked off June with a great perspective.


As I started running more consistently, I tried to appreciate the environment and not focus on my pace. I absolutely love running on the WB&A and B&A trails for that reason. It helps me focus on things that are important, like how awesome it is that I can run in such a pretty place.

What I did notice is that with more consistent running, I saw my pace start to slow down. At first, I thought I have to fix it…to try to get faster. The problem was, I couldn’t get faster. I was doing what I could and that had to be good enough. So, I kept thinking, “This run is getting me closer to my goal of 35 miles for the month.” I was also on business travel, where I got to run in Chicago, which is one of my favorite places to run. If you put me near water and combine that with great architecture, I am one happy girl. So Chicago took me to the Navy Pier and by the Art Institute. I always feel better when I run in Chicago. Maybe it’s stopping at the intersections combined with the scenery.


June ended with my first race since my vitamin deficiency…the Espirit de She. I was supposed to run the 10k, but with temperatures in the 90s at 6pm, they only hosted the 5k and thank goodness they did! I struggled but it was one of my favorite races. There was beautiful scenery. I felt accomplished and I didn’t worry about my pace (because of the heat and humidity, it felt like I was just trying to survive).


And I think that race was the perfect way to end June. I ran for a total of 35 miles, which to me, represented my ability to make progress.

So of course, I thought, if I could run 35 miles in June, I should try for 45 miles in July. I also thought that I would give the training for the Diva Half Marathon a shot. So, I started running twice a week and doing my long runs on the weekends. This time though, I didn’t focus on hitting 3 or 4 miles for each weekday run. I did what I could. And it wasn’t always easy. There were a couple of runs where I could only do 2 miles and there were a couple of nights that I just had to skip. I kept trying and I was able to meet my monthly running goal!

Slow and Strong

August brought took me to back to Chicago where I ran the Riverwalk to the harbor and fell in love with the surroundings. Running is my meditation and as much as I wanted to sit and stare at the beautiful sunrise, I had to go to work!

I also started with an online personal trainer through Sisters in Shape. Thanks to consistently taking my vitamins (and going to the chiropractor for some neck and back issues), I started feeling better and thought it was time to focus on getting the weight off, not just for aesthetics but because my body can’t handle the extra poundage. This was a good move for several reasons, one of which was to focus more on strength and not on pace.

You may also like:  Love Run Half Marathon Training Week 6 Recap


My pace continued to get slower. I became less concerned and accepted that 10-10:30 is my new normal. And that acceptance was fantastic. I still had to employ the Galloway method. I could still get out there and that’s what mattered. My long runs kept getting longer and, for the most part, I enjoyed them. Most of the time, I felt like a fairy in the forest.


However, three weeks out from the Divas Half Marathon, I was slated to run 12 miles. That run sucked. I could only run 11.12. My legs hurt. I didn’t have my energy gels. It was just one of those runs where I questioned whether I’d even be able to complete a half marathon.

That’s when I thought back to my 10-mile run a couple of weeks before when I felt so good that if I had more time, I could have run 13 miles. And it was that run that helped me believe that I could do it. And then it was time to taper! That was like a reward for the hard work I put in. I noticed that my back would hurt more after a long run exceeding 9 miles, so the taper was relief.

A few days before the Divas 5k and Half Marathon, it was time again to get my B-12 shot. When I signed up for this race in February, I decided to challenge myself by doing a 5k the night before the half marathon. Now, I was seriously concerned.

Would I wear myself out?

I had a plan to limit my activity during the day, but would it be enough to feel good for the half marathon?

Given that it was time for my B-12 shot and I wanted to have the odds be ever in my favor. I did a little research and opted to pay up for a Myer’s Cocktail. It’s a mix of various vitamins that help with energy and recovery. It’s about eight times the cost of my regular B-12 shot. I was going to try it and see what happened.


Run Like a Diva

When I got my race weekend information, I learned that I was in wave one for both the 5k and half marathon. My first thought, “Are you kidding me?” There’s no way I’ll be able to run with that pack. When I went to packet pick-up, I asked about the range for each wave and the information diva told me I should be fine in wave one. So, when it came time to line up, while I contemplated starting in wave two, I decided I would go to the back of wave one and people could just run by me if need be. And you know what the awesome thing was? I was fine.

I ran for about 15 minutes straight…the longest I’ve run since April before my vitamin issues started to make their presence known. I even forgot to use my inhaler! There were hills on the beautiful golf course at Lansdowne, which I mentally cursed. I couldn’t get over how good I felt. The finish was an uphill battle and I finished strong. I got my tiara, boa, and awesome medal. But most importantly, I felt so good. I was tired yet I felt accomplished.

After that, I treated myself to an awesome dinner and a soak in the tub (which side note: a bath is an amazing thing when you don’t have a kiddo or two coming to check on you to make sure everything is okay). Then it was time to turn in for the early morning wake up.

So far, on every HM eve, I haven’t slept well. I was anxious and ready to get going. I had no goals for this race except to enjoy the experience. And for the most part I did. Although we went through a neighborhood of rolling hills and a killer hill around mile 9, I enjoyed the country scenery and the beautiful homes. I felt really good until mile 11 or so and then my feet started to hurt, and I started to get tired.

That’s when runner’s math helped…only a little over two miles to go…that’s not even a 5k. I can do a 5k, so I can do this!

Around mile 12, I thought I was going to cry. I felt so proud that I was running and more importantly, that I felt more like myself.

When I crossed the finish line and saw my time, I was in awe. Rolling hills and all and I finished in 2:18:03! I was completely spent the rest of the day and slept for almost nine hours that night (which is a lot for me).

Learn about Emily's journey with a vitamin deficiency!

While I’m not back to my former self (and who knows if I will ever be), I’m learning to accept where I am now. I’m continuing to make progress and learning to listen to my body. And when it comes to running a race, just be present and enjoy the experience.

Have you had a health issue impact your running?  How did you deal with it?  

You can find Emily at her blog Wannabe Awesome Me, and on Twitter and Instagram @emily1852.

I’m sharing today’s post with Tuesdays on the Run with April, Erika, and Patty!

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