It was an ambitious thought to sign up for my first half marathon years ago and I had no idea what an amazing journey and the impact it would have on me. I am blessed to have my sister-in-law who is a long time marathoner to train me up. We worked on a custom training plan starting at 3 miles, adding a mile per week leading up to the race day. I’d say you should give yourself a good 4-6 months to train up for beginners.
Let me tell you it was quite a journey at the beginning, I still remember how mad I was as I hit my first double-digit mile – the pain, cramps, pure exhaustion and frustration so I started throwing out any colorful words that you can imagine – it was mostly in my head to be honest, but I guarantee you will quickly overcome it to chase after that shiny medal at the finish line.
– Pick the right shoes and the right soles. Hit up places like a specific runner store that can make a custom pair of soles for your running shoes (soles can last you for a good 1000 miles). I like to get half size or full size up on my running shoes since your feet will swell up towards the end of a long race. Don’t skimp on a good pair of running socks either, you want to avoid blisters when running.
– Stick to your custom training plan. It was once a week for us for about 5 months and it worked. You need dedication and commitment to push yourself forward.
– Prepare for rain and hills. Check out the elevation from your race route in advance. In my neck of the woods it can get quite hilly – alternatively, running downhill on a rainy day can be dangerous, so be careful with that and go slow.
– Know your running nutrition strategy to make sure you take in enough energy on race day – that includes energy gel packs, carbohydrate supplements or snacks that work for you during the race. You can’t survive with just water, your body uses two primary sources of fuel to feed the muscles when you’re running – fat and carbohydrates. For me, I would bring a couple packs of GU energy gel packs with me when I run.
– Since you will burn lots of calories during the race, be sure to carb it up the week before. Any high carb high energy food is good to fuel you up to prepare you for the big event.
– The morning of the race, you might need to get up real early depending on your corral. Have a perfect pre-running breakfast like oatmeal/pancake/peanut butter sandwich/eggs that won’t give you cramps but fuel you up. Never try anything new on Race Day!
– Pee before the race and I mean it, especially if you are tracking your time!
– Stay hydrated and pick up that paper water cup every time you see one, or Gatorade, and gel packs.
– Pace yourself in the first half of the race and listen to your body and make necessary adjustment to stay consistent through the race.
– Enjoy yourself! I like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, they are extremely well organized and the setup is consistent from city to city. At various checkpoints, there will be musical bands, cheerleaders, or simply just local residents cheering for you. One year we even created outfits with our name on it, and it was so encouraging hearing people shouting out your name and cheer you on!
“When you cross the finish line, your life will change forever”.
Crossing the finish line is one of the most exhilarating achievements in the world and then each race you do it gets better and better. Family and friends are there cheering you on, taking pictures for you and you want to cross that sucker strong like a boss! Once you put that shiny medal on, all the pain instantly goes away. Now, go grab that ice cold beer that you deserve and let your body chill off and recover.
The whole half marathon journey was so humbling, you see people with various athletic background in different ages, even pregnant ladies and grandparents, everyone come together to give their very best for a really tough distance. Salute to you all!
Seattle-based world traveler living my best life!! I am passionate about seeing the world and experiencing different cultures. Strongly believe the best adventures come from traveling outside of your comfort zone. Follow along this humbling journey of mine that I am very proud of.