Running is one of my favorite ways to test my limits and challenge myself. I have learned more about myself through running than I have in any other aspect of my life. The opportunities for improvement are limitless in this sport, and I love the fact that more and more people seem to be taking advantage of this as time passes. One of the most popular race distances now is the half marathon, and I can definitely see why.
Training to run a half marathon is a challenging feat. Completing 13.1 miles on race day seems nearly impossible the first time, but yet so many beginner runners are able to conquer the distance. Half marathon training takes a goal that feels slightly out of reach, breaking it down into smaller sections that just might feel attainable. This distance will teach you lessons about yourself and make you stronger each and every time you complete it.
When runners sign up for a half marathon, beginning a training plan feels awfully intimidating. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just beginning, looking ahead at your long runs feels like a far stretch from when you are now. If you feel like you don’t know where to start, or are just wanting some extra half marathon motivation – here are some half marathon tips to ensure that this next one is your best yet.
13.1 Tips to Make Your Next Half Marathon Awesome
1: Give yourself enough time to train.
Running 13.1 miles is quite an accomplishment, and it can’t happen overnight. I know so many runners who get excited, sign up for their first half marathon, and then don’t train. Sometimes the race they signed up for is in just a few weeks, and sometimes they get started only to be surprised by how much time training actually takes. Either way, by failing to train they are setting themselves up for an incredibly miserable race. If running a half marathon is something that you want to do, find a plan, give yourself enough time, and commit to it. Don’t set yourself up for failure by forgetting to take the time to prepare. Anything is possible with a little preparation!
Looking for a training plan? Download my half marathon training plan for FREE!
2: Focus on distance before speed.
When running a half marathon – especially your first half marathon – it’s important not to do too much at once. 13.1 miles is a long way to go, whether or not you’ve run it before. Your long runs are the most important part of your training plan, and they should be your priority throughout. Focus on increasing your distance first. Don’t get discouraged by slower splits during your long runs – that is perfectly normal. Allowing your body to focus on the distance first will set you up for greater success when you are ready to aim for a time goal.
3: Incorporate strength training moves into your cool down.
Strength training is so often neglected by runners. Who wants to spend an extra 30 minutes completing strength moves when you’ve already run for an hour?! It’s hard to make time for both, especially when you are training for the first time. Incorporating a few strength moves as part of your recovery helps get those moves in each week without adding too much time to your workout. Mix it up each day; complete a few squats, lunges, bridges, and planks at some point throughout the week. Adding just one strength move to the end of each run only takes 1 or 2 minutes, but will pay off big time on race day.
Check out this 30 Day Strength Training Challenge to stay motivated to complete 10 minutes of strength training after each run.
4: Don’t blow off your rest days.
While your long runs are the key aspect of the training plan, rest days come in a close second. If you want to get to the starting line on race day injury free, make sure to prioritize your rest days. Don’t skip them. Rest days allow your body a chance to recover and prepare for the upcoming week of training. Skipping a rest day can often lead to burnout, or even worse – injury. Reward your body for all of the hard work it is doing by giving it a day or two or complete rest each week.
5: Practice your race day fueling.
Adequate fueling is crucial over 13.1 miles! No matter how experienced you are, it will be tough to run an entire half marathon without taking in any fuel. Practice your fueling during your long runs each week. Experiment with different types of fuel, and when you find one that works well for your body – stick with it. This helps to minimize surprises on race day and trains your digestive system for the long run.
6: Consistency is key.
If you want to truly enjoy your first half marathon, consistency during training is the golden ticket. Keeping up with your training plan will help you feel confident and strong on race day. Skipping one or two runs isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but skipping a run usually leads to skipping another. Avoid getting caught in the trap of low motivation and tell yourself that you are going to complete them all. Missing a few runs because life gets in the way is one thing, but skipping runs because you are feeling lazy will lead to a miserable half marathon.
7: Increase your water intake.
Whether or not you can feel it, you will be losing much more water than usual during training. All the sweat you lose throughout runs and workouts needs to be replaced in order to keep running well. Increase your water intake each day and get in the habit of hydrating consistently. Dehydration will make you feel miserable and sluggish on long runs. Checkout this surprisingly easy way to drink more water.
8: Slow down.
If you are finding that every run feels hard, slow down. Long distance running is challenging, sure, but finding a comfortable pace is key to success. 13.1 miles is not a distance that you can sprint with success, so prepare for that during training. Focus on completing the miles and enjoying them. If you are too tired to talk to your running partner during easy runs, you are probably running too fast.
9: Don’t forget about your mid-week runs.
While long runs are the key to half marathon training, mid-week miles are still important. They are on your training plan for a reason – don’t skip them! Sure, you could probably manage to complete the 13.1 miles on race day having only run long runs during training, but I guarantee it won’t feel easy. Running a half marathon is meant to be an enjoyable experience, so in order to get the most out of it you need to commit to your training plan. Those mid-week miles help your body adapt to increased distance, and mentally prepare you for the race ahead.
10: Take training one day at a time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking through your training plan for the first time. Looking ahead at a 12 mile long run may seem impossible when you can barely run three. Taking training one day at a time is crucial to success in a half marathon. Focus on the very next workout and forget about everything up ahead. Know that bad runs are bound to happen, and experiencing one set back along the way will not set you up for failure.
11: Taper IS important.
As you get closer to race day, remember that taper is very important. Set aside the week or two before training to decrease your mileage and give your body some extra rest. This is the time to prepare your body for the upcoming race – mentally and physically. While it is hard to run less when you know the longest run is just a few days away, it is actually the best thing you can do. Tapering before race day helps you feel fresh and eager to run come race day.
Here are the best 5 things about taper time to help you stay motivated!
12: Plan race day ahead of time.
There is nothing worse than stressing out the night before a race, not knowing if you’ll have enough time to pick up your bib or trying to figure out how you’ll get there. Use the extra time you have during taper week to read through race day logistics and plan the morning ahead of time. Where will you stay? What will you wear? When will you pick up your bib? Walking yourself through the logistics ahead of time will greatly ease the stress leading up to race day.
Download this free Race Day Checklist to make sure you have everything you need!
13: Trust your training and don’t overdo it.
Training plans are structured a certain way for a reason. Trust in all your hard work and resist the temptation to add in extra miles or workouts. Believe that the work you have put in is enough to set you up for success.
.1: You CAN do this.
Standing at the starting line for a half marathon feels incredibly intimidating, regardless of how many times you have done it. No matter how impossible it feels, remember that you CAN do this. You’ve got this.
Each time you run a half marathon, you learn something new about yourself. Challenging your body to a long run pushes your limits and tests your endurance. It is through times of adversity that we experience the most growth, and running a half marathon will do no less. These half marathon tips are only the beginning: enjoy the journey and remember that anything is possible with a little dedication and perseverance.
Want more half marathon tips? Check these out.