Everything You Need To Know About Running Your First Half Marathon

Running your first half marathon is terrifying! It just is. Running 13.1 miles may sound impossible today, but anyone can do it! Here is everything you need to know about running your first half marathon.

 

Focus On Today.

How many times have you told yourself that you were going to make a change tomorrow? From eating healthier, getting more sleep, doing your taxes early, to meal prepping for the week, we all do it. But we don’t have control over what happens tomorrow, just today. It’s hard not to get ahead of yourself and start to panic when you see distances on your training plan that seem impossibly far and incredibly scary. Just focus on what you can do today. Not what you’re scheduled to run next week or in a month. Today.

It’s About the Journey, Not the Finish Line.

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Race day is going to come whether you’re ready for it or not. But if you gave your best effort day in and day out in training, you’re going to be ready (regardless of whether you think you’re ready or not). But the hardest part about running for a half marathon is training for a half marathon so fight the urge to get through training to get to race day. The journey of training is supposed to be hard. If it were easy, running a half marathon wouldn’t be an incredible accomplishment! Find the fun wherever you can and focus on how you talk about your training. You never have to run, you are choosing to. Try to replace “have to” with “get to” and see what happens. Do it for three weeks. I guarantee it will make a difference.

It’s Supposed To Suck.

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Some people make running look so damn easy. Don’t panic if you feel like you’re spending the majority of your runs driving the struggle bus. I recently took a pretty significant break after my last marathon and it took me four months to get one amazing run. FOUR MONTHS. That doesn’t mean that every run was terrible, but a vast majority of them weren’t fun. They felt a lot harder than they should. Everyone is different but if you can fight through the discomfort and doubt, eventually, you’ll breakthrough. Attitude is everything. Compare yourself to no one and remember that all the hard work now will pay off.

Foam Roll!

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Go buy a foam roller and use it every day for 10 minutes. Not sure how to use it? CLICK HERE

Get Your Rest.

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GET. ENOUGH. SLEEP. Running a half marathon is really hard on your body and your body repairs and recovers while you sleep. So prioritize sleep. Whenever you can get it, make it happen.

Plan for Success.

Sit down with your training plan every Sunday and write down in your calendar when you’re going to get your runs and workouts in. If you know work is unpredictable, run in the morning.

Tips on morning running: Waking up early when you aren’t a morning person sucks. You aren’t special, everyone struggles. We all hate waking up early to run further than we’d drive for ice cream when we’re PMS’ing.

  • Lay your clothing out the night before.

  • Set an alarm that allows for 5 minutes of snoozing if you’re someone who hits snooze. Don’t waste 30 minutes you could be sleeping hitting snooze.

  • Schedule your coffee maker so coffee is ready when you wake up. (HELL, for a year, I slept with a coffee maker next to my bed.) Do what you have to do to wake up.

  • Find someone you can meet for an AM run. If you know your friend is on a street corner waiting for you, chances of you bailing are lower because that would make you a grade A asshole.

  • Remember, attitude is everything. The more you complain and kick your feet, the harder it will be. Think of it like one of those finger traps. Don’t fight it, just do it.

Get a good sports bra and pair of shoes.

Sports bras are expensive. It sucks but a good sports bra will change your life. Need recommendations? CLICK HERE

Same goes for shoes, shoes can be expensive but it’s really important you find a pair that actually fits.

Tips for sizing:

  • You should be able to fit your thumb between your longest toe and the end of the front of your shoe. Your feet swell when you run so they should be a little bigger than your everyday shoes. (For reference, I wear a women’s size 10 in everyday shoes and a Nike men’s 11 wide.)

  • If you feel like your foot is slipping and sliding when you run, get a more stable shoe.

  • There are so many bells and whistles with running shoes and sometimes, it takes trial and error to find what’s right for you. Try to opt for a company with a good 30 day exchange program.

  • THIS is my go to running shoe. It’s my favorite shoe I’ve ever worn. Simple, not too expensive, lasts a long time and super comfortable. Get what works for you.

Cotton is the Enemy.

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NEVER wear cotton anything.

If You Love It, Lube It.

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Invest in chafe cream and rub it on sports bra hem lines, between your thighs, on your toes, and wear your arms rub against your arm pit.

Treat Your Long Runs Like Dress Rehearsals.

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From the day before with what you eat and how much sleep you get, to breakfast pre-run, to how you fuel when you run, what you say to yourself when you’re struggling, and what you wear, treat your long runs like a race day dress rehearsal.

A note on fueling: As the miles start to build, you’ll want to start incorporating energy gels to make sure your body is getting the energy and glycogen it needs to keep performing. There are many different brands out there for you to choose from, like GU, Clif, Maurten, Huma, Honey Stinger, etc. My personal favorite is Maurten, but the secret is to try them on your long runs to see how they sit with your stomach. What works for some may not work for others. Some people like chews, while others like gels. Some people opt for gummy bears, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or fig newtons. But the rule of thumb with energy gels is that you take them during efforts longer than 90 minutes every 30-45 minutes.

A note on hydration: One to two hours before you work out, drink 10 to 16oz of water. During your workout, go for about 4 to 8oz of fluid or sports drink. 

Sports Drink: If your workout lasts longer than 45 minutes, include a sports drink.

Get An Accountabilibuddy.

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Whether your badass lady gang is connected virtually online or in person, find a badass lady gang and lean on each other. Can you train alone? Absolutely! But it’s so much easier when you have a community who you can turn to for advice, support, motivation, and help.

Your Personal Best is Your Personal Best.

There’s no pace you should be running at. There’s no set finishing time you should shoot for. Your only job when you’re training to run your first half marathon is to give your personal best. Walk if you need to walk. Run the whole thing if that’s your personal best. YOUR personal best is YOUR personal best and that is something to be incredibly proud of.

Do Your Strength Work!

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Go download the Nike Training App and do 2-3 days of body weight strength work. (Think squats, lunges, planks, pushups etc.) STRENGTH WORK IS KEY TO PREVENTING INJURIES.

PREHAB Injuries.

If you have the resources to see a Physical Therapist, DO IT. Don’t wait until you get hurt, go now. If you’re in the New York City area, go to Finish Line Physical Therapy. Find a PT who treats and understands runners. A good PT is hard to find so ask runners who they trust and see.

HAVE FUN.

You have to work to make training fun. Maybe that’s dancing at street lights, smiling through the pain, listening to a podcast you enjoy (might I recommend the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast for inspiration), or call your most chatty friend who will talk at you while you run. (If I had a dollar for every time I took a conference call during a training run, I’d have a billion million dollars. Are conference calls fun? No. But multitasking is.) It’s up to you to find the fun in your training fun. I have the most fun when I’m with my friend Jeanie and we’re screaming along to the Whitney Houston playing on her little portable speaker. Find the fun. It will change your life.

And remember, no one knows what we’re capable of. Not even us. It’s ok to doubt whether you can run a half marathon. There’s only one way to find out! To set the goal, do the work, and see what happens!

Remember, the only way you fail is if you fail to try!

So grab one of my training plans or journals and get training! That half marathon finish line will be yours before you know it!