10 Tips For Your First Half Marathon

This post is part of my “Saturday Morning (or in this case evening) Musings” series and has nothing to do with photography. Don’t worry, more photography-related posts will be back next week.

Running The Colorado Half-MarathonThe subtitle of this post should read, “From One Amateur to Another.”  I ran my first half marathon last May (the Colorado Half Marathon), and am currently training for my second one (Horsetooth Half Marathon). While one race doesn’t make me an expert, it does give me enough experience to provide suggestions for newbies. Below are some tips I was given by others, plus some I made up all on my own.

  1. Get Fit For Running Shoes By An Expert
    And no, I’m not talking about the teenage sales associate at your local Foot Locker. What you put on your feet is extremely important, especially when you start adding significant distance to your runs. A few years ago, I made the mistake of wearing a pair of running shoes way beyond their life cycle and ended up with a case of sesamoiditis. To help limit the pain from this condition before my half marathon, I went to Boulder Running Company and was given some inserts to put in my running shoes. These inserts align my legs and hips to prevent added stress on the balls of my feet. The difference in running was pretty significant for me. Some running stores will even have you get on a treadmill to see what kind of support you need based on your running style. It’s well worth it. Trust me.
  2. Create A Training Schedule And Use It For Motivation
    My cousin (who runs full marathons) was nice enough to provide me with a training schedule for my first half. I ended up adjusting it to fit with the amount of time I had to train before my race. Prior to last year, I would run for fun, but could never get past the 6 mile mark. Maybe it was a mental block, or maybe I just needed the extra motivation from somewhere. You Type-A people will understand this…Crossing off a run from the schedule is extremely motivating for me. It’s like checking something off your to-do list. I ran 6 miles today and can’t wait to highlight it. There’s something about a training schedule that gets me to push the extra mile each week.
    {To see my current training schedule, click here.}

  3. Know The Race Course And Train Appropriately
    I didn’t really do this last year. The race course for the Colorado Marathon is mostly a slight downhill. I didn’t adjust my training accordingly and ended up with some extremely sore quadriceps after last year’s race. The race I’m running this year has some pretty major inclines in the first 5 miles, appropriately titled “Monster Mountain” and “Dam Hill”. Most race websites will have the course profile for you to view prior to race day. The best thing you can do to prepare is mimic the course in your training. Whether you use a treadmill (inclined to the appropriate grade) or you run the course itself, your body will thank you for preparing it.

  4. Run Outside
    I love to run outside. The idea of doing a long run on a treadmill makes me want to cry. (I had to do my 6 miles on a treadmill today due to the weather, and no…I didn’t really cry). This tip goes along with #3, but running outside can help keep you motivated. When you’re actually going somewhere, you tend to run faster. There are also more things to look at to keep you interested in your run.
  5. Stretch After Each Run
    There is much debate about the effectiveness of stretching. This article on About.com discusses this topic in more detail if you’re interested in reading about it. From my personal experience, I have found that stretching after each run, especially my IT band, helps me recover better for my next run. My favorite stretch is similar to a knee crossover stretch.
  6. Refuel Your Body Post-Run
    Last year after each run I would eat something like cereal or maybe some rice with avocado, but I didn’t put too much thought into my post-run fuel. This year, I have been trying to pay more attention to refueling to help me recover quicker, so I can train harder. According to this article by the Oregon Health & Science University, runners should refuel within 30 minutes of finishing a run. I’ve been doing a protein shake along with some sort of quick carb (like fruit).

  7. Drink More Water Before and After Runs
    I know you have heard this a thousand times. And you probably already know that about 70% of our bodies are made up of water. However, when you’re training it is especially important to keep well hydrated before and after your runs. Last year, one of my clients (who is a triathlete) gave me the great advice of sipping water frequently for the few days leading up to my race. Note I did not say gulp multiple glasses of water. During your training period, take a bottle with you everywhere and sip from it throughout the day. In your car, at your desk, at home after dinner on the couch. Staying hydrated will make you feel better on your runs, especially the long runs.

Quick Tips for Race Day

  1. Eat A Typical Breakfast – Don’t try something new on race day! Stay with your tried and true. My favorite is a bagel with peanut butter.
  2. Bring The Appropriate Pre-Race Clothing – You will be allowed to check a bag at the start line. If you’re running in colder climates (like Colorado) make sure you bring warm clothes (sweatpants, coat/sweatshirt, hat, gloves), because there is a lot of standing around waiting before the race starts.
  3. Slow And Steady Wins The Race – Start slow and let your body warm up. Don’t worry about the other participants who race past you at the start.

Have other tips to add? Comment below.

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About Wendy from Suburban Misfit

Social Media Manager by day; blogger and amateur photographer by night.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 10 Tips For Your First Half Marathon

  1. Vicky says:

    Thanks for the tips! My goal is to run a 5K this Spring. (I can run / speed walk 5K, but not RUN the entire distance) It is a new sport for me, so I appreciate any insight. And BTW, as my current distances are relatively short, I LIKE the immediate feedback on the treadmill. I get to see that I ran that extra tenth of a mile in the LED screen! And way to go, Wendy. Impressive running!

  2. Thanks for reading my post Vicky! Interesting insight on the treadmill…I can see how for shorter distances it can be rewarding seeing the extra distance. Good luck on your 5K this Spring. Maybe next year it will be a half marathon. 😉

  3. Robin says:

    A half marathon is on my list of goals this year. I got sidetracked by illness for the one I’d hope to do in May, but there’s another one in October I might be able to make. Thanks for the tips. 🙂

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