How to Train For and Run Your 1st Half Marathon

I have recently gotten a lot of questions about what made me want to run a half marathon and how I trained.

Running a half marathon has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I remember seriously considering to start training when I was in college and again after Dax was born. Both times I followed a training plan for a week or two before falling off the bandwagon. This summer something finally clicked for me and I stuck with my training plan.  I have a few pieces of advice for those of you that are wanting to run a half marathon.

1. This is the most important piece of advice: find a training plan that works with YOUR schedule and STICK TO IT. It’s that simple. There are TONS of plans out there. I used Hal Higdons Novice 2 and it worked well for me. I tweaked it a bit to fit my needs by adding yoga and strength training and switching days around.

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2. Make the program work for you. You won’t find a training program that is absolutely perfect (unless you hire a professional to design one for you). Make any changes you see necessary BEFORE you start training. Write the whole program down and print it out. Put it up in an area you use a lot like the bathroom mirror or the fridge. Cross off your workouts as you do them so you can see your progress!

3. DO NOT skip your long runs. In my experience my Saturday long runs were the most beneficial in helping me cross that finish line.

4. Find a race that fits in your timeline and SIGN UP for it.  Once you pay the entry fee, you are committed. I know I was a lot more motivated to keep up with my training when I invested my money into the race. I didn’t want my $70 entry fee to go to waste.

5. Invest in a good pair of running shoes.  Running long distances in shoes that are not meant for running or don’t fit properly is a great way to get injured! Go to a running store where the sales person will give you individual attention to help you find the best pair for your feet. Expect to pay around $100. This is money well spent…I promise!

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6. One thing I was worried about during my training was proper fueling. I used my long runs to experiment with different types of fueling to see what worked best for me. I ended up liking a combination of sports drink throughout my runs and 1 packet of GU around mile 8. Everyone’s stomachs and taste buds are different so make sure to try a few different things before race day.

7. Don’t stress out and make it harder than it actually is. Start slow and make sure you have built up a running base before you start training. You should be able to run 3 miles fairly comfortably before beginning a half marathon training program. If you are completely new to running I suggest finding a couch-5k walk/run program first and follow that with a half marathon program.

8. Most importantly have fun with it. Bring music or listen to podcasts on your long runs and try to get outside whenever possible. The treadmill is SO boring!

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