I remember when I signed up for my very first half. I was excited, nervous and actually in shock thinking about actually covering 13.1 with my own feet.
It should be know that I was not a “runner” when I signed up for my first half. I had done a few 5k’s and the BolderBoulder 10k every year with my dad, but I had never trained before, let alone run more than a few miles without stopping and thinking I was going to keel over and die.
It takes a lot of courage to sign up for something like a half marathon. But, I have learned that ALL walks of life run half marathons. You don’t have to be in phenomenal shape or a distance runner. I’ve known people who are severely overweight or have some sort of disability participate in a half — and guess what? THEY FINISHED. Talk about inspiring. You can finish too! You just have to believe that you can do it.
Invest in a good pair of running shoes
You will hear this one over & over again.Go to a running store and have your gait tested. Invest in a pair of shoes that work for you. Some people over pronate and need more support, some people prefer zero drop shoes— it’s all about how you pound pavement. There is something to be said for running shoes that actually help you and not hinder you. I learned this lesson the hard way last time by getting tendonitis in my footsies for wearing running shoes a zillion miles longer than you are supposed to. You can check out the post I wrote about running shoes, here.
…. and while you’re at it, buy some running socks to save your feet from half dollar sized blisters. You will thank me later. Thorlo Experia socks are a personal favorite of mine, they are almost always BOGO at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Related Post: The Great Shoe Debate of 2013
You Will Chafe — Find Out How To Prevent It
Test out different running clothes to find something that doesn’t chafe. For example, I realized that I will never be able to run in shorts. Ever. For some reason my legs just don’t get along with shorts and I end up with big ol’ chafe marks (that turn into painful scabs!) afterwards. Power to the people that can run in shorts — I envy you!
This goes for tops, too. Find a top/sports bra that doesn’t rub your armpits, back or traps. My go-to running outfit is my Nike Legendary capri pants, a Nike Sports Bra (I own like 10 of them, they are my favorite) and a tank top.
Find A Training Plan That Fits You Lifestyle
For my first half, I used Hal Higdon’s Novice I plan as a guideline (THIS was the plan that I followed). I switched out a few days for CrossFit, but the long runs were all the same. I encourage you to try out a training plan like Hal’s, Jef Gallaway or find one on Pinterest and tweek it to fit your life. As long as you are MOVING (whether it be running, swimming, biking, CrossFit, etc.) and getting in your long runs, you will be fine.
Experiment With Fuel
I had never experimented with fuel until I ran 8 miles and felt like I hit a wall towards the end. I then decided to give CLIF shot bloks a try and have used them ever since. I prefer to use the bloks, but gels, Gus, gummy candy or even a cut up banana can work. Experiment with what works best for your body, and do so before race day.
Related Post: Fueling Your Long Run
Get Your Head In The Game
Running is SO mental. As soon as you start thinking you are tired, you are going to want to stop. Find a mantra and repeat it. Or, tune out to some awesome music. YOU CAN DO IT.
On the same note, don’t stress if you miss a training day. You shouldn’t feel guilty or stressed if you can’t do a run because life gets in the way. Just make sure you get back on track — one day (or even a week!) won’t define you.
Buy a foam roller. Use it. Take an Epsom salt bath. Eat a 2:1 ration of carbs to protein after you workout. Get enough sleep. Take care of yourself and training will be MUCH easier. It’s a simple formula, really.
Related post: Top 5 Ways To Recover From A Workout
Enjoy The Journey
Looking back on my first half marathon, I really enjoyed training. I remember feeling SO excited when I had a new mileage PR. I would spend the entire day after my long runs feeling extremely proud that my body just ran 8, 9, 10 or 11 miles. It’s a feeling like no other. You will know when you experience a moment like that, and you’ll reach back in those files long after the miles are logged.
You can do this! You are a runner, regardless of how much experience you have had.
If you’d like to read about the journey to my first half marathon, check out these posts:
First Half Marathon EVER
My First Half Marathon Training Plan
Half Marathon Playlist, and another one!
My First 9-miler!
Sickness and Training Don’t Mix
I Just Ran My First Half Marathon!!!