Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Steps to Run Your First Half Marathon

Now that I have one (very slow) half marathon under my belt I am pretty much an expert. Being the nice person that I am I would love to impart my wisdom on you all. If you have ever though about running a half, or even a 10k, my biggest advice is do it. Seriously. Just put on your big girl panties and do it. You won't be disappointed.
You will be disappointed if you never do it and look back and wonder why.
If you are really, really not sure, make a list of your reasons NOT  to do it.
If any where on that list is "I will die" then you probably shouldn't but every other reason you can work around!
No time? Make the time. Wake up at 5 am. It's nicer running that early anyway.
Can't run that long/far? Well that's what training is for.
No money? Running is free. Don't get all caught up in the gimmicks of running products. I was just as happy with my $10 ear buds from Wal-Mart, and a friend of mine uses oranges for fuel. You DO NOT need to spend a million dollars on running equipment (my favorite compression capri's were 12 bucks).

Okay so do I have you convinced yet? If I do keep reading, if not start reading from the top again until I do.
Now where do go from here?

Step one: Find a race.
There are a lot of different things to consider when picking your first race. I suggest you take a look at these factors.
Traveling distance from you- you may need to find a place to stay the night before, or if you are planning on driving down remember parking, and traffic. You are going to be nervous and the last thing you need to worry about is getting stuck in traffic.
Starting time- some races are held in downtown districts so the start times are a little early to get everything cleaned up before major traffic times. This also plays into whether or not you will want to drive down the day of or stay somewhere the night before.
Course- Where I live this is very important because of that dreaded thing we call HILLS. Hills are hard no matter what. I do my best to train for them but they can be mentally defeating. I choose a fairly flat course for my first half because I didn't want to get beat up mentally and not be able to beast it!
Cut off times- some races have this and some don't. It's another mental battle knowing that if for some reason you need to walk a little more than normal, or your poop cramp holds you up in the middle that you may be asked to step aside.
Support- In this case I mean support through bystanders. This one is big for me. I like people cheering me on. I like feeling like I am a celebrity and everyone wants a high five from me. For me PERSONALLY running long distance is 80% mental. Some races have trail portions that don't have room on the sides for spectators. If I am running by myself and there is no one around me cheering me on or my mental game kicks in and I don't push myself as much.

Okay so now you have a race, next comes the fun part.. running.

Step Two: Find a Training Program
There are a million and one different ways to train for races out there. The biggest thing is to find one that works for you and STICK WITH IT. If you change it up in the middle you run the risk of injury or just getting burnt out. Don't think that just because the training program you printed out has the long runs on Sunday you HAVE to do them on Sunday. This is YOUR world remember. Run on your time, just don't skip long runs!!

Step Three: Go Shopping. 
Okay so this part does require spending a little money but it's well worth it. Believe me. Go get yourself fitted for some running shoes. You do NOT need to spend $200 bucks on shoes, just go get fitted. You don't have to buy the ones you they tell you to buy (or the special running socks they give you to "get a better feel"), just go get fitted. Don't be afraid to try on a million pairs and do weird running skipping hops around the store. Find the ones you like, and by like I mean the ones that FEEL GOOD running shoes aren't always about looks and then shop around. Look on Amazon, look in other stores, look on Ebay shop for a deal my friend.

Step Four: Trial and Error
Your first few runs are smaller ones so these are the best runs to try out some fuel and hydration options. For your long runs plain water doesn't always cut it, but hey it might for you. This is where things get gimmicky. I preach Nuun and Shot blocks but that is ME. Like I said before a friend of mine does oranges. You have to try a few things out until you find what works for you. Once you get into your longer runs, try to stick with the same thing so you get used to it.
You can also check out what fuel and hydration will be offered at your race and choose to train with those knowing you can get them the day of! Warning... some taste like straight up vomit.

Step Five: Enjoy it. 
If you hate every second of your run, or you find yourself skipping long runs. Step back and re-evaluate. Take a day off. Switch up the time of day or grab a friend and go for a short run. TALK TO PEOPLE. Find someone else who runs long distances and vent vent vent. I can't tell you how many texts I have sent saying "I can't do this". There are good runs and there are bad runs, but all you do is keep going. Put one foot in front of the other.
I'm here. I will snap your ass back into it, because I've been there. Many a time. The only person you are doing this for is you, and the only person that can do it for you , is YOU.

Now go run. Run like the wind.


  1. They cancelled the half I was going to do in October, but Im still working on going further. I was running 2.5 miles every morning and now I have worked my way up to 5 in only a week. I think I can probably find another race to train for.

  2. Loved this and needed! Thanks! Hoping to do a Half-Marathon in October! Just praying I am able to RUN the whole freaking thing! Good luck to you on your next one! And yes on the shoes, I have already injured myself by having crap shoes! Love your blog by the way! Keep up the good work!

  3. Well, you make it all sound so doable. I just need to make the first step... Find a race. Great post!!!

  4. Awesome- I did a 10k a month ago and now I am thinking about doing a half marathon for my next challenge.

  5. This just gave me all the warm fuzzies! I start training for my 2nd half this month and I'm on the hunt for good fuel! I had a killer charlie horse after my last half because of poor hydration/fueling soooo yea I need to try some thangs.

  6. Great way to put it all! I did a half marathon and the scariest day was the day I registered! It was one of the best days I've ever had. Since then injuries have stopped my running but I still remember the sense of empowerment I had from doing that half and to this day I can still say yeah I've done a half marathon and shock the heck out of people!