How to Train for a Half Marathon
I have had a lot of people asking me lately how I prepared to run my half marathon, so here are my top 10 tips! I am NOT a professional, but this is what worked for me as I trained for my half in September. I hope these ideas help you too.
10. Set the goal to run your race and officially register! You will be filled with excitement and nerves as soon as you register, but that is what starts making your goal a reality. It will no longer just be “I plan to run a half marathon in June”, but rather “I AM running a half marathon in June.” Be realistic with what you want to accomplish in your first half marathon. What is important is that you complete the race, not the time you do it in. Although I did have a time goal for my first race, I made it something I knew I could accomplish. Completing a half marathon is an incredible thing in and of itself it won’t matter to you at the finish line how quickly you did it. Trust me! It was an added bonus that I did it under my time goal.
9. Find an accountability partner, someone to run with or a running group in your community. This is so important, especially for the long training runs. Get online and search out where local running groups meet in your area. You will find people to help you push forward and make friends along the way. Accountability is so important in anything you do. You will be more successful if you have someone who is aware of your goals and is checking in to make sure you are on track. This has helped me tremendously in so many aspects of life! Try it.
8. Find a training plan that works for you. The work has already been done for you and is online waiting for you to find it. Whether you are a beginning runner or advanced, there is a plan ready to get you started. Here are a few sites you may want to check out to get you started:
Consider adding in shorter races along the way to help prepare you for your half marathon race day. This will also give you a sense of accomplishment as you work towards your goal.
7. Get a good running music list. This was vital for me as I prepared for my first half marathon. I enlisted my younger sister to help me find music that would pump me up and keep me going. We even strategically placed songs in the order of the running list to give me that extra boost I needed at times I thought I may need it. Figure out what kind of music works for you and then compile that list on your ipod or mp3 player. Need ideas? I have a lot of suggestions on my facebook page. Check them out there: http://facebook.com/CoachNichole
6. Have the appropriate gear. (clothes, shoes, running gels or Vaseline) I once read you should dress for 10 degrees warmer than the temperature reads on the thermostat. There is nothing more miserable then running in clothing that isn’t comfortable or appropriate. Ladies, make sure you have a properly fitting sports bra. I had rubbing for a week after wearing a sports bra that wasn’t fitting quite right. A painful lesson I learned. Also, make sure your shoes are in good running condition. Running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. Listen to your body. I knew it was time to replace my running shoes when my legs started going numb on my longer runs. Sure enough, when I invested in new shoes the numbness went away! (Just a side note, if you are experiencing pain while running listen to your body. If it continues have it checked out! You don’t want a lasting injury to prevent you from training or even competing on race day.)
5. Eat right and stay hydrated. This should go without saying, but as your body is being pushed during your half marathon training it is so important to be sure to give it the right fuel. Yes, food is fuel! Here is a link to some great resources you can check out about what you should be eating: http://www.marathonrookie.com/nutrition.html
Don’t forget to stay hydrated as well! Here are a few hydration tips I ran across:
Hydration Before Exercise
- Drink about 15-20 fl oz, 2-3 hours before exercise
- Drink 8-10 fl oz 10-15 min before exercise
Hydration During Exercise
- Drink 8-10 fl oz every 10-15 min during exercise
- If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8-10 fl oz of a sports drink (with no more than 8 percent carbohydrate) every 15 – 30 minutes.
Hydration After Exercise
- Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses.
- Drink 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost.
- Consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within the 2 hours after exercise to replenish glycogen stores.
4. Do what you know and don’t change routines the week or day of your race. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing. I think this is pretty self explanatory!
3. Visualize yourself running your race and completing it successfully. Imagine how you’ll feel at the end. My high school cross country coach used to always tell us that most of running is mental. You have to TELL yourself you can do it and keep telling yourself too! There will be moments during the race you are tired and ready to quit, but if you take time before the race to visualize yourself moving forward then you will! Write down your goals on paper in the present tense to help accomplish your race. Here’s an example: I run a half marathon without walking in under 2.5 hours.
2. Get your rest! Make sure you are taking care of yourself as race day approaches. This is especially key the night before the race. I am sure you may be pretty excited (or nervous like I was), but you will want to wake up refreshed before your race. Get off on the right foot by getting the sleep your body needs!
1. Have fun! This is your day! You have worked for a long time to get to race day. Enjoy every moment of the experience. Talk to others who will be running the race and enjoy the music that is playing before you start. Take pictures ahead of time and even invite your friends and family to be there. Their support will mean so much to you along the way. You might even want them scattered around the course with signs to help give you encouragement. Don’t worry so much about time on race day, just go out and run your race. Savor each moment and get ready for the flood of emotions you will have as the distance you’ve been working towards comes to a close. 13.1 miles is something to be proud of. NO ONE can take that from you. My half marathon was one of my proudest moments to date. I can’t explain how I felt when I crossed the finish line. I know you will get to experience this too!
Ok, so I think that wraps up my tips. I hope you find them helpful. I’d love to hear your feedback and know when you will be racing! You can email me email@example.com! Happy running.