My friend Abbey and I are planning to run a half marathon in October. I have run two half marathons before but this will be Abbey’s first! Now, I am by no means a running professional, but I wanted to offer a little bit of advice that I wish I’d gotten before signing up for my first half.
- Find a Race
This seems obvious, but it’s important to find a good race for your first one. There are a ton of different races out there, but I would personally recommend finding one that happens yearly. There are a couple reasons for this. First, there will be more people to push your pace and pump you up. Two, races that are annual tend to have less “kinks.” They tend to be more organized than one time races. Smaller races are by no means bad, they can be super fun! If it’s your first half, however, I’d recommend something that happens often. Just a quick note- some races can be expensive, so prepare for that if you’re looking for a big race like the Rock and Roll Marathon. The bigger the race, the higher the cost, generally, and , most of the time, it’s for good reason. The swag is better, there is more offered (the Rock ‘N Roll usually has a concert at the end of the race- the 2015 one in Savannah had Rascal Flatts as their headliner), and more people means more medical crews and what not. Don’t let it deter you, just be aware! A lot of those races also offer special discounts on certain days so just research around.
- Find a Plan
Free training plans are available online basically anywhere, but Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway tend to be very popular. Plans are generally about 12 weeks long for beginners, but you can always adjust it as you need to.
- Get New Shoes
I don’t mean any shoe. Get fitted for a running shoe. You can go to most running stores to get fitted for a shoe that fits your arch and stride the best. If the price is too steep, get their recommendations and look to Amazon. However you get them, make sure you are wearing proper footwear. This may be the most important part of running since improper footwear can lead to injuries. If you’re looking for recommendations, I’m a huge fan of the Asic GT-2000 (my previous show), Nike Downshifter 7 (my current shoe), and the Nike Frees.
- Train Smart
Cross train, cross train, cross train. Did I mention that you should cross train? You obviously need to work on running and endurance when training for a half marathon, but it is SUPER important that you are also doing other exercises to strengthen your muscles. This can be yoga, stairmaster, spin class, weight lifting, whatever, just make sure you are working ALL of your muscles to avoid injury. Training smart also includes stretching adequately before and after your workouts. Do some dynamic stretching before a run to get your muscles warm (lunges, skipping, jumping jacks, butt kicks, etc) and some static stretching (calf stretches, quad stretched, pigeon pose, etc) and rolling after to loosen up lactic acid. Not only will you avoid injury, but you will recover faster.It’s also important to pay attention to the weather. I don’t mean in the sense of not running in rain or snow, but make sure you’re training in similar weather to the race as best you can. For example, if you sign up for a December half, don’t focus your training to be in the middle of the afternoon in the summer time. Weather isn’t always exact, but if you know the general temperature of the season you’ll be running in, you’ll know when you can train that will be a similar environment. We are running our half in October, so we train in the mornings since, as things warm up, early morning runs will most reflect the temperature of our half in October.
- Have fun
At the end of the day, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, it won’t work out. It’s hard to stick to a 12 week program when you dread the activity! Make sure you’re enjoying the process. You don’t have to set a time goal. You don’t HAVE to run the whole time. Create a goal, and just do your best to stick to it while ENJOYING yourself!
Questions for you:
- Have you ever run a half marathon?
- If not, would you ever run one?