So You Want to Run a Half Marathon

I’m not sure whether it’s the new year or the chilly weather, but I feel like a lot of people are experiencing a renewed motivation to get out there and run.

On the PBF Facebook page alone, I’ve received three different inquires about training for a half marathon and figured it would make a decent blog post topic!

As you know, I am definitely not an expert runner or someone with natural running ability. (You may read my running story here.) I’m not breaking records out there and running is hard for me, plain and simple. But I have completed four half marathons after feeling unsure about whether or not I could run for more than 20 minutes non-stop. I think that puts me in the same boat as a lot of you!

savannah rock n roll marathon

The key is in the training.

I am a firm believer that anyone can run a half marathon (assuming they don’t have any serious injuries) if they put in the time and effort to properly train for the race.

Finding a plan that meets your needs and caters to your current fitness level, allowing you to increase mileage over a time period that is both realistic and safe, is pivotal.

If I were to give advice to a novice runner who is interested in running their first half marathon, these would be my key points:

  • Invest in good running shoes. I started training for my first half marathon in an old pair of Nike Shox and my shins were sore and my feet kept blistering. After following a running friend’s advice, I went to Track Shack, a local running store in Orlando, and had a professional help me select a quality pair of running shoes based on the way I ran. I ended up heading home with a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders and haven’t experienced blisters or issues with my feet since. (I previously posted about my other favorite running gear, in case that’s of interest!)

mizuno waverider

  • Run shorter races first. Make mini goals! My first goal was to run a 5K without stopping. Then a 10K. Then a half marathon. By completing shorter races on my journey to running a half marathon, I didn’t get burnt out on training and I felt like I was achieving mini-milestones as I reached for my main goal.

savannah rock n roll

race for the cure

  • Tell others about your goal. I made sure to let those close to me know about my goal. Sticking with a training plan can be difficult, especially when long runs on the weekends may require you to take it easy on Friday or Saturday nights. By explaining how important this goal is to you to those close to you, they’ll be much more likely to support you rather than make you feel guilty for not drinking a bunch of beer at a birthday get-together or something. They may even want to join you in your training or cheer you on as you run on race day! I’m convinced half marathons are contagious.  

chicago rock n roll

  • Train with fuel. This is something I didn’t do during my first half marathon and now, after running four total races, it’s something I’ve found really, really helpful during long runs. I always carry some kind of fuel with me on long runs. I’ve experimented with different kinds of fuel and found that Gu Chomps work great for me. Having calories to ingest during a run greatly helped me keep my energy up as I conquered longer distances.

gu chomps

  • Pick a FUN race. The first half marathon I ran was rather small and just plain boring. The course itself was dull and that can weigh on a runner! It wasn’t until I ran the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon that I realized how much the quality of a race can impact your experience. Ask around and do some research to select a race that seems fun and exciting to you. You may prefer smaller races or thrive in popular races. Make sure to pick the kind of race that you feel will allow you to have the most enjoyable experience on race day. I personally prefer races with tons of spectators and entertainment to keep me stimulated and energized.

Questions of the Afternoon

  • Runners: If you could offer one piece of advice to someone interested in running their first half marathon, what would you say?
  • Non-Runners: Do you have any desire to one day run a half or full marathon?

Comments

  1. Felicia @ Let's Talk About... says

    I’ve had two knee surgeries in the past year and a half so running even a half marathon is probably out. My goal is to be able to run a 10K and I’ve been working on it, but having trashed knees definitely makes running a challenge.

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  2. says

    1. deodorant between your thighs and under your sports bra band. you’ll thank me later. 😉
    2. buy running clothes you’ll be excited to wear. it’ll get you more into training
    3. sign up with a friend f’sho. you keep each other accountable and long runs are so much more fun!

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  3. says

    My advice would be to take baby steps, and to stay positive – any progress, no matter how small, is great progress! Running is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one, and a positive attitude can make all the difference!

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  4. says

    I’m training for my first half right now =D March 3rd and I just can not wait. I did the same as you though. 5k *check* 10k *check* than I thought alright well I guess a half is next haha. Idk when Ill be ready for a full though.

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  5. Lexie@ This Aussie Eats says

    I love the tips above! I am running my first half this Sunday (the Phoenix Rock n Roll series).

    I have been following Hal Higdon’s novice program also and have really increased my milage. I am a little nervous that the program stopped at 10 miles though, Did you find this was long enough going into the race? I dont want to hit a wall the last 3 miles!!

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  6. says

    My biggest tip: Splurge on high-quality running clothes, even if it’s just a top and a pair of shorts! Not only will you get excited about wearing your new cute clothes, they’ll make a huge difference in how comfortable you are on your runs.

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  7. Geneva says

    I’m training for my first half marathon, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I completed my first 5k this past Saturday, and am signed up for another 5K, a 5 mile race, and 10K all leading up to the half in May. I’m very excited about these races but sometimes I question whether or not I can actually do them and this post provided motivation and tips to help me stick to it.

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  8. says

    Great post! I actually just started training for a half marathon and it will be my first race longer than a 5k! I am going to do a 10k race during my training as well to prepare for the longer race. I don’t consider myself a runner either and I am also following the Hal Higdon’s novice plan. I love it so far and I think it is great for people with some running experience but not too much. Will you be training for another one anytime soon?

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    • says

      initially i thought i’d run the st. pete rock ‘n’ roll half, but i’m actually enjoying my little break from running at the moment. it always comes and goes for me though, so i’m sure i’ll want to do another half in a few months. :)

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  9. Kristi says

    Although I am not at the half marathon level yet, I have started to get ready for my first 5k. It’s not until June 2012 though. But, I’m starting from not being a runner at all…so we will see!

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  10. Julia says

    I actually am running my first half marathon in April!!! And thats thanks to you! You’re such an inspiration!!! I will keep you posted how it goes…:-)

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  11. Mandi says

    Julie! I cannot believe you haven’t participated in one of Disney’s marathon events! They are the BEST– just amazing! There are thousands of spectators, a huge race (so you’re running with thousands and thousands of runners in the race itself), the course is incredible and you totally can’t beat running through the parks! The highs and adrenaline is crazy exciting.

    Disney really puts on a great event for each of their races (although the regular “marathon” weekend in January is the biggest). The Wine and Dine Half Marathon (that goes on during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival) is ran at night and has a different course than the Princess and regular half marathon.

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      • Mandi says

        For your first time, I definitely recommend participating in the “Disney World Marathon Weekend” in January (it was just last weekend). It’s the largest event. The half marathon will have you running through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, while the full marathon will have you running through all 4.

        However, if you want to really try something different (and like running at night), the Wine and Dine Half is also fun because it’s a different course and through Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.

        I’m running the princess half next month, which is totally awesome if you are looking for a girly, feel-good race. =) But the “regular” weekend is the bomb!

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      • Mandi says

        Oh, they are also bringing back the Tower of Terror night race, which is a 10 miler. You also get free admission into the park after (like wine and dine) til 3am. They also have fun events such as a 5k obstacle course/scavenger hunt-type thing in May, if you are looking for other distances.

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        • Andrea says

          I’m running the DisneyTinkerbell Half next week in Anaheim, CA! Scared since it’s my first half marathon and I didn’t realize there were going to be sooo many people at it LOL LOL. I’m really glad I ran across your blog/site. I’m feeling more inspired for my last weekend to really push it and get going!

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  12. says

    Definitely DEFINITELY get fitted for good shoes. I made the awful mistake of training for my first half in shoes that offered almost no support, and I did some serious damage to my knees and hips. When I got fitted for shoes AFTER the half, I realized what a crazy difference good shoes make. I’m now training for my second half, and so far–no pain!

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  13. says

    When I first signed up for a half-marathon (the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas one), I hadn’t been exercising at all, so my husband and I walked 12 miles in slightly less than 4 hours… I felt encouraged knowing that I could complete the half marathon even if I only ran a mile of it. :)

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  14. Kate says

    Thanks so much for the info! I’m really wanting to run the Rock ‘n Roll Half in Nashville at the end of April. I’ve done some 5k’s and a 10k, but doing the long runs are definitely intimidating (especially in TN where there are so many hills!).

    Do you wear a belt or something while you run to hold your water/snacks? I haven’t invested in one yet.

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    • beth says

      beware the Nashville RnR!!! that was my first full marathon and it was terrible….the weather is so unpredictable..my year was terribly hot..and it’s a very hilly course, and parts of the first half (that everyone runs together, all 30,000!) are on narrow roads where you are literally elbowing everyone around you….

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      • Kate says

        Thank you so much for the warning! I thought it would be fun with the music and all, but your info makes me a bit wary of it.
        Are there any you would recommend? I live in Northeast TN (5 hrs from Nashville actually), so it is difficult to find a relatively flat race around there. I thought the Virginia Beach RnR looked like fun, but it’s Sept. 2nd and I’m afraid it will still be really hot there.

        Thanks!

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        • beth says

          Honestly, nashville soured me on the big races….because it was so uncomfortably crowded until the half-marathoners left the course. i train on hills all the time, so i don’t mind the hills (unless it’s really hot and crowded!) the air force marathon (and half) in columbus, ohio is a really great one. it’s mid september and the weather was perfect when i was there. they take REALLY good care of the runners there. have you run the knoxville one? i’ve been wanting to try it

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  15. says

    these are great tips, julie. i would emphasize that rest days are extremely important when it comes to running. muscle repair and time for your bones to heal is so important. i got a little carried away with running at first, but you perform so much better with some quality rest in there! you won’t lose fitness by taking a few days off!

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  16. says

    I’m not really a runner anymore, but I’ll probaby get back into it after I have my baby!

    Advice: Follow a plan suited to your ability. If you are a beginner, you shouldn’t be following a plan that has you running 3 miles right off the bat. Slow, steady progress is good. Allow enough time (at least 6 months before a race) and stick to your training plan!

    Here’s a post I wrote a while back about must haves for running :) http://bloghelloworld2012.blogspot.com/2011/08/7-must-haves-for-summer-running.html

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  17. says

    That’s all great advice! I myself am simply not a runner, but I want to be. I would like to run a 5k in April here in New Orleans, but I find motivating myself is one of the hardest parts, simply because I feel like a terrible runner! I prefer yoga and strength training to running, and I tried track in high school but would up quitting simply because i didn’t feel as good as everyone else. It’s important to know that its a PERSONAL race, not competing against anyone but yourself and that’s something I learned over the past couple of years when I slowly took up running very short distances rarely, but got so excited in personal time improvements. I hope that’s something I can focus on and get out there to complete my first 5k, and someday maybe even a half marathon!

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  18. says

    I am a runner but I really don’t have a desire to run a half marathon and I’m starting to feel like that makes me inferior and a failure as a runner! Half marathons/marathons have become the “it” thing and seem to really define a runner these days.

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  19. says

    I 100% believe anyone can run a marathon. Or half marathon. Or whatever. My number one tip would be to invest in a foam roller.
    I think a really common newbie mistake is to get too caught up in the “running” aspect and forget about the recovery, which is just as important (if not more important!!!) and makes a huge difference in making runs more enjoyable.

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  20. says

    Don’t forget you can walk races, too! As someone who has chronic hip pain from a childhood injury, I really cannot run. But, I have walked TONS of races! Not a 1/2 marathon because that distance would be too far for my injury, but there are many others out there who can’t run like me, but could walk that distance or even farther. The Team In Training program even has a walk program for 1/2 and full marathons. So, if you can’t (or don’t want to) run, you can walk!

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  21. says

    This is such a great post! Thanks so much for all the information. My goal is to run my first formal race at the beginning of this summer and perhaps run a half marathon by the end of the summer/fall.

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  22. says

    I took that picture of y’all at the RnR Savannah expo! So glad I didn’t chop your heads off 😉

    Great tips! I also like to remind newbies… run your own race. As a slower runner, I am usually the one of the last ones on our long runs. But it’s ok, it is MY race and MY training! 5ks to marathons… it is my own finish line!

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  23. says

    I would say…definitely stick to a professional training plan as much as you can your first time, so you know what a training plan should be like. I ran a full marathon before I ran any shorter races or half marathons, and I decided I was too busy to stick to the training routine. Because I am naturally athletic and can push myself (especially in that race-adrenaline), I was able to finish the marathon despite having only ever run 11 miles once before the marathon itself. I do not recommend this. I had problems with my left knee after the marathon and, to this day, I experience slight discomfort in that knee when I run a very far distance or too many days in a row–and that marathon was more than a year ago!! That being said, I agree with you in the sense that everyone (assuming no terrible injuries or health issues) can complete a half marathon or even a marathon with proper training and preparation!

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  24. Andria says

    I have two pieces of advice:

    1. Set up a schedule and try to stick with it. For each half marathon I completed, I always started with a weekly schedule of workouts. I ran three times a week and cross-trained with Zumba, yoga, or dance classes. A written schedule is a great way to track your progress. You can also pinpoint when a distance was particularly hard for you to finish. When I encountered these harder sessions, I would alter the following week’s program so I felt good about each distance I conquered.

    2. Change up your routes! With each run I did, I tried to vary the path I took. Changing the scenery can often provide a much needed distraction from the miles you’re covering. It’s also a great way to explore areas near and around you. I learned a lot about surrounding neighborhoods because of my running routes.

    Good luck to everyone racing this year. Simply making the decision to do a half marathon deserves recognition!

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  25. Katie says

    I’m so glad you made a post for this! I am a beginner runner and just started my training plan for my half marathon this week! To keep myself motivated for the race I bought new cute running clothes and invested in a Garmin watch (which really makes me want to keep running farther distances!) I also already registered for the race, so I can’t back out!

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  26. says

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! So many people are signed up- it is so encouraging! I signed up for my first half yesterday. I’ll be running the Nashville Rock & Roll half in April and started training yesterday. There are 15 weeks & 3 days (yes, I’m totally counting) and I’ve run a few 5k races before, but never further than 4 miles. I am following Hal’s novice plan for three weeks and then switching to the novice 2 for the 12 weeks leading up to the race. Here’s hoping it goes well! Thank you for the much needed advice.

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  27. Tracy @ Tracy's Treats says

    I’ve completed 3 half marathons so far, and my biggest tips are be to commit to a training plan that works for your schedule and make it a goal to complete all your long runs before raceday. Not only will you feel physically ready, but knowing you can run 10-12 miles will help you feel more mentally prepared!

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  28. says

    Know when picking a race how far out it is and how long you plan to train for. Nothing worse than planning on running a race then panicking and realizing you only have 6 weeks to train for a half marathon!

    Also, be sure to use nutritional supplements (gu’s chomps, etc) during training to see how they will effect you before race day. Always drink lots of water with those products as they are highly concentrated and can cause stomach issues.

    HAVE FUN!!!

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  29. Amy Szwerluga says

    I DID make my new year’s resolution to run my first half marathon! I thought I was being original (haha). Thanks for the information and links. The marathon is in September so I have lots of time to find smaller races.. I love the idea of mini milestones along the way. Right now I can only run about 3 miles before I start feeling the pain :)

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  30. says

    Nice post with good info. I 2nd the run smaller races first…I used to run the Chicago Marathon every year and the first year I started to train, I’d never even run a 5K. So I spent almost 1 year working my way up: 5k, 8k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon! It worked, I had fun, and remained injury free!

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  31. Stephanie @ afitbliss.com says

    I am training for my second half right now, but I have plans to do many more. Loved this post- learning about fueling was one of the most important things I figured out! I am still fine tuning it, but it definitely improved how I felt running the last half.

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  32. says

    I’ve run exactly ONE Half Marathon and I have to totally agree with TRAINING. Don’t do a Half if you haven’t got time to invest in the training. Just because you can do a 10 Miler doesn’t mean it will be a piece of cake to do the following 3. I didn’t have/make the time and I was absolutely miserable after 5 miles.

    And definitely agree on the supplements! I did NOT train with supplements and I wish I had. By the time I finished my Half, I was so empty that I was physically ill. Not fun.

    Kind of not wanting to do another half EVER really, though sometimes I think when I have the time, I will do it the RIGHT way. I have a killer commute (4+ hours per day) so training more than 2 days a week is just not possible for me right now (and fitting the “rest” of my life in, not just running).

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  33. says

    You nailed all the important stuff Julie – nice summary! I’d say for your first race, don’t worry about a time goal. It is such an accomplishment to have completed the race. If it’s not your first race, shoot for a time goal but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it. I tell my students that no matter how many times you’ve run a half – it’s still a long way, and something to be proud of!

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  34. says

    I’d love to run a half marathon or a 10k but I’d like to go with someone because I’d like to run a race with a partner, even if I run everyday on my own!

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      • Merri says

        Hi Gen – I’m one of Julie’s friends and thought I’d chime in…I’ve trained for all of my long races with a running group. You can search the internet to find one, or go to your local running store and look at there bulletin board or there website. Some groups are free and more liesurely without a distinct running plan but even the full out marathon training groups only cost about $150 for the entire training period. You will meet people of all ages and all skill level (no matter the distance of the race), they provide great course routes each week with water/gatorade stops, cross training suggestions, and interval work. Highly reccomend a group. Also, I have run three marathons with charity groups and have had AWESOME experiences joing those groups and above all would reccomend doing that, it adds a completely new element to the training and the race. Team in Training is a nationally recognized group and they have groups in every major city for all race distances and skill levels. GOOD LUCK!

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  35. says

    Thanks for the tips and motivation, Julie. Last year, my goal was to finish a 5K without stopping and I did it. It was hard but I was able to do it. This year, it’s on to 10Ks and I found a great training plan in Fitness magazine. My goals revolve around just finishing and not so much on fastest time. That would be my advice for non-runners like me. Just finish. That alone is so rewarding.

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  36. says

    My biggest piece of advice would be to stop thinking about it, just do it!!! You’re not trying to win the race (well, probably not), so get a beginner’s training plan, do your best, have fun, and be proud of your accomplishment!

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  37. Rosa - Fitness Food Fulfilled says

    I love running and it truly is a passion of mine (to prove my point: I’m 4.5 months pregnant and still running).
    My advice would be that it’s hard to do, especially in the beginning, but it gets easier the more you do it. When you complete that first race or reach a mileage you’ve been striving to get to, you’ll feel amazing. You’ll have good runs and bad runs, but the high you feel from the goods will get your through the bads. Just keep going.

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  38. Lauren says

    Thanks for putting all these tips together in one post! I’ve been scouring your blog lately for all your half-marathon tips so now I’m bookmarking this entry. :) I’ve always been fit and active but I’ve never been a great runner, until last summer when I completed the Couch to 5K program. I ran two 5Ks in the fall and I FINALLY fell in love with running! I have a history of knee injuries/pain, but by following a training program and increasing mileage in reasonable increments they barely hurt anymore. I’m convinced that is the key. My 2012 resolution is to run a half marathon and I have my eye set on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville in April!

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  39. says

    I ran my first 10K in the Summer of 2011 and my goal is to run my first Half during the Summer of 2012! While training I’m definitely a big advocate for water! Sooo much water…and then a banana. They make me feel so much better.

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  40. says

    Thank you for this great post, this is exactly what I needed. I’ve started running and training towards any race (probably 5K or 10K) last November, and your tips are really helpful. Hope I can run my first race this Spring or Summer!

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  41. says

    Funny – just yesterday I was telling Daniel that I was thinking about signing up for a half marathon! I’m by no means a runner (I don’t think I’ve ever run more than 6 miles at a time), but I know if I set the goal for myself I will do it (competitive, much?). Thanks for the tips!!!

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  42. Laurie says

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m running my first half marathon in May (training starts in a few weeks!) and the refueling thing is so weird to me since I have run only short distances, so thanks for the Gu Chomps recommendation!

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  43. says

    My advice: Test EVERYTHING out before you run a race. Your fuel, your shoes, your clothes, your cute new earbuds, your fuel belt that you think is awesome but might flop around.

    Bascially, don’t try anything new on race day.

    I ran my first half in Nike Shox and I wanted to DIE. Thankfully, I have joined the Mizuno family as well.

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  44. says

    Wear comfortable clothes, you’ll feel better about yourself and your running! Moisture wicking materials are what you want! And for girls, invest in a good sports bra… you really don’t need to wear two cheap, flimsy bras. Oh, do NOT wear cotton socks either! :) It’s really all about the right clothes… then HAVE FUN!

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  45. says

    I haven’t always trained, actually I didn’t at all six months ago. I’ve spent the last 5 yrs smoking, drinking (at parties, not in an alcoholic way) and I ate really baldy. I’ve changed a lot, no more smoking and no more alcohol. I actully even realised I don’t like alcohol, funny I didn’t notice before.

    ANYWAYS, I’ve started running amongst other types of training and it’s really hard for me. First time I ran about 30 minutes and stopped every 4 minutes. It’s gotten better (I can now run for about 20 minutes without stopping), but reading that you too find it hard to run is very, very inspiring. It feels like maybe, maybe one day I’ll be able to work out like you do. My dream would be to run a marathon one day!

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  46. Jackie says

    I’ve done a few races, and I agree that the right gear is essential. The one thing I haven’t found that I love is a good sports bra. I’m a B+, so there’s not that much to contain, but I haven’t found a good bra for distance running yet. Do you (or any readers) have favorites?

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  47. Lauren says

    My new year’s resolution is to run my first half marathon in 2012! The furthest I’ve gone is a 5k. Does anyone have suggestions for a fun half in the Denver area or in the mountains other than the Rock and Roll? (my best friend is getting married that weekend) I’d appreciate any suggestions!

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  48. says

    Great tips! I totally agree that almost anyone can run a half-marathon. I would advise new runners to ensure that they incorporate at least one complete rest day a week – your legs need a chance to recover from all the pounding.

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  49. Emma says

    I ran my first 1/2 in November at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Savannah & am running my 2nd in Charleston on Saturday!!! So obviously I had a good experience! I am even considering running the R&R Savannah full next year, this coming from the girl who skipped running practices my entire athletic career.

    My advice? Find a running group or buddies!! It made so much difference on bad run days or when I did not want to get up at the crack of dawn to run 10 miles on my day off. Other big tip is do not compare yourself to others. Being fairly competitive but totally new (and scared) of running I got discouraged comparing my pace to others. But learned that is not what it’s about!! It’s about having fun and running for you!!

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  50. Nathan Miller says

    Great post once again. But I would add two things.

    First, I feel the fueling the one to two days prior are the key to the race. Forgot that saying “Carb” up. Yes, carbs help, but sitting down to a plate of spaghetti the night before the race really does nothing for you. You have a to have a balance of food 48 hours prior. And then a small, power packed breakfast the morning before.

    Also I like you idea about having some fuel on the run. However, EXPERIMENT with fuel before you run. I learned the tough way. I took 4 GU packets on my first Full Marathon and halfway through, I ate/slurped my first one for the first time ever…terrible mistake. It was super sweet, and made me super thirsty.

    Last have something to motivate you though the race. Rather it be promising yourself a supper at a Buffet that you normally wouldn’t go, a shopping trip, or even a beer. My first Half marathon, I knew there would be free at the finish line and just knowing that beer would be ice cold at the end of the race honesty pushed e though mile 9 and 10

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  51. Kaella Carr/Neithercut says

    Hey Julie, I love the post!

    I’m currently training for my first half marathon. Like you, I have to work at running! When I started to run last spring, I could barely run a few minutes without stopping! Training is key!

    I’m signed up for a 6K in March, a 10 K in April and am aiming to run a half in May. I love the tips from everyone else too! :)

    I would agree with you about proper running shoes. I have been using my normal gym shoes for the past year. This past week, I went to a running shoe store and got fitted (got Mizuno Wave Runners as well!) and absolutely love them! They really do make a difference!

    Good luck to everyone with their running goals this year!!!

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  52. says

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve had two foot surgeries in the past year and a half so running a half marathon is far from an option right now. I’ve decided to start with 5ks and who knows where that will lead me!

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  53. says

    I ran one half marathon, the Nationwide Half Marathon in Columbus, OH. I decided to run it my last quarter of college at Ohio State, a goal I had for years. The course took you around the campus and through the city, such a cool experience! My big tip for runners is to dress in layers. It may not be the most convenient thing to do, but I was really happy I had my gloves, hat and running jacket on when it started raining at mile 9. Everyone around me looked so wet and cold, it was nice to feel cozy and dry that’s for sure!

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  54. says

    I have never run a half marathon before, but am thinking about doing one. There is a half marathon this year on my 30th birthday and I thought that would be perfect. But I am so slow! I have been running for years and never get any faster. I like to run but my body doesn’t.

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  55. says

    You are amazing! This post could not have come at a better time. I am about to start training for a half, not that I intend on actually running in one, but I just want to be able to run that far and this post is fantastic for me. I love all your tips and I was looking at the Hal Higdon Novice plan and with your recommendation, I will definitely go ahead with this one.

    As always, I don’t know what I would do without your blog. I always find what I am looking for here at PBF. I especially love all of your tip posts – healthy eating, maintaining weight over the weekend and how to workout in the morning just to name a few. Have a great day or in your case night :)

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  56. MANDY says

    Great info! I will have to plan on the fuel for the longer runs – I’m sure that will help when I feel like dying. I have only ran 5k’s and just started on Monday training for my first half. I want a medal before I die and I know I will never get it for my speed in a 5k :o)

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  57. says

    I’ve only run one, but my advice is to not give yourself an out. I wanted to quit so bad around mile 11, but I had already told myself I would do whatever it takes to finish, running the whole thing. I think the training gives you mental toughness as well as stamina and strength. Some runs are going to suck, but run through the suckiness and you will be more mentally prepared.

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  58. Christina says

    I’m so glad you posted this! It could not have come at a better time! I signed up for my first half marathon on New Years Day! The race is April 28, so I’ve started to train this week! Most of the training schedules I saw were only 12-14 weeks and I was afraid that wouldn’t be long enough! Another tip that I have found helpful, is all of the running stores where I live (Tulsa, Okla) offer either training classes you can pay for to get you prepared, or free runs from the store every weekend! If you can’t find a buddy to train with you, that is another way to do it!

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  59. Julie says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! One of my main New Years Resolution this year is to run a half-marathon… But I’m starting off with 5Ks and 10Ks first!

    I have a quick question,
    when you go on long runs, what do you do when you get thirsty????? It’s hard for me to carry a water bottle when running… And I’m really curious to know what other ppl do when they need to re-hydrate.

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  60. says

    Thanks for the advice Julie! :)

    I’m actually currently training for my first ever half-marathon. I’m in week 3 of 10 and it’s going great so far! I just heard about Gu Chomps…literally…this morning – so seeing them on your page makes me want to get them NOW!

    Also, I LOVE Mizuno Waves, I got the Enigmas also from Track Shack. They’re so helpful there! Thanks for the inspiration…always. :)

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  61. says

    I’ve only done a 10 mile race, and I’m training for my first half and then planning on a marathon! Definitely the advice about choosing a fun race is key! My 10 mile race was rather small, there were no spectators, and it was in an area I ran regularly. In other words, I felt like I was just doing a normal long run, not as inspiring!

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  62. Sarah says

    My friend is peer-pressuring me into doing a Half this year! it’s a little daunting, but that’s the goal.

    Where do you keep your fuel? I agree that it’s a great idea, but i’ve always been stumped about exactly where it goes.

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  63. Jen W. says

    Have you ever ran the Disney Marathon in Orlando? Just moved from MI to FL 2 years ago and thinking of making that my first run (next year) – need several months of training though. I’m old (47) but have the desire to do it!

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  64. Bess says

    it’s so funny you posted this because i JUST signed up for my first half…i live in NJ and am running it with a friend. she’s my running buddy and we pressured each other into doing it. i never thought i could run with a pal, but we run at a comfortable pace (9:30 mile or so) and make sure we’re on track with our training.

    my biggest tip so far is the FOAM ROLLER. that thing helps my IT bands like no other. also, getting enough sleep is huge. i just ran 8.5 miles the other day (person distance record!) and getting 8 hours of sleep the night before and the night after made ALL the difference.

    thanks for the post!!

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  65. says

    My biggest piece of advice would be to start slow and listen to your body. Don’t push through pain … let your body rest for a few days, if necessary. And don’t take on mileage too quickly!

    Also, hydrate hydrate hydrate the week before the half. That made a big difference for me!

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  66. Nicole says

    i really want to run a half marathon to raise money for cancer…i’m not a runner, but i see how hard so many fight for their lives (like my dad) and if he can tough it out and make it through the treatment he was forced to endure, then i can run a half marathon! i have a lot of training to do, but i am (eventually) going to make it happen!

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  67. says

    I totally agree with your comment about running a race that’s fun. I’ve ran 2 half marathons and one full, and while the full marathon was still great experience, it was a course that was mostly half marathoners. When it got to the second half, there were a lot of times (like an hour total!) when I was running all by myself and couldn’t even see another person. It was still a nice course, but I’d definitely prefer to do more exciting races from now on.

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  68. says

    My best tips for new runners and especially for those attempting long distances:
    1) Respect the distance! Train, eat well, hydrate, stretch, and listen to your body. It’s not called an “endurance sport” for nothing!
    2) This rule: If you run, you are a runner. No matter how slow or how fast. Don’t feel like you’re not a “real” runner! Enjoy the ride.

    And others have said it, but it bears repeating: Run your own race! In this and in all the aspects of life. :-)

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  69. says

    Great post! This totally applied to me, and I loved reading it. I am planning on doing my first marathon this summer- the Chicago Rock n’ Roll half!!

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  70. Rosalie says

    This post came at a perfect time! I just started training this week for my first half marathon. It’s not until October but I wanted to get start early! I was wondering if you had any tips about training on a treadmill vs. running outside. Right now it’s too cold to run outside in PA so I’ve been running on the treadmill. Figured once it got warmer I could switch to outside… Thoughts?

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  71. says

    Thanks so much for the tips Julie! I am actually running my first half marathon in May and have just started looking into training plans. I run pretty often but have only done shorter races and definitely would not consider myself to have natural running ability…. You give me the hope/confidence that I can do it!

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  72. says

    I started a new running plan this year – before I would always back out of my long runs, but this time I came up with a plan to keep myself motivated! Every time I accomplish a fitness goal (like running 3 miles for the first time under 30 minutes), I reward myself with something from my “wish list” on Pinterest. NONE of these things are food – the first item I bought for myself was a running outfit – a tank and capris! It feels great to look forward to working out in new gear!

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  73. says

    I have ALWAYS wanted to be a runner! Half/full marathons, the works! The most I’ve run was a 5K and that was years ago and such a HUGE accomplishment for me! I’ll be motivated for about a week (following a “couch to 5K-type” program) and then just stop…

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  74. says

    Great tips! I am a runner and have been trying to do a race (half marathon) for literally years, and EVERY time I sign up and start training, I end up getting injured half way through. :( I’m hoping I can eventually make it to the finish line, but I’m realizing I may not be meant to be a runner, even though I enjoy it!

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  75. Danni says

    I just ran my first half and here are some of my tips:
    1) like many people said get fun/quality running gear so you are excited to train
    2) make fun playlists to run to… I even had friends make some for me during my training to keep it fresh and exciting
    3) have people cheer you one…I was struggling at mile 8 until I saw my family cheering me on and it gave me the confidence and push I needed
    4) train with people- I had my sister and brother-in-law bike next to me on long runs and it made it fun and supportive
    5) treat yourself after the ran :-)

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  76. says

    I have been running for 4 years with an average of 25 miles a week for that long. All I can really say is that you HAVE to keep up good nutrition. Nutrition is very important, especially for me. I lost a severe amount of weight (unhealthy) because I was unable to keep up with the lost calories. So make sure you’re getting enough! Running burns a lot more than you think!

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  77. WinterSundays says

    Great post! Thanks so much for sharing! I have some race experience (5K, 10K and the Army 10 Miler) and I agree that location/environment is KEY. I’ve found that I prefer large, highly organized and fun-filled races. So for my very first half-marathon I am going to run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half-Marathon. The race starts at 10pm and ends with a Finish Line Party. I love the idea of running my first half in the Happiest Place on Earth and partying afterwards!

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  78. says

    For anyone interested in running a half marathon I would definitely say you are capable of more than you think you are!! Some people think they can’t but don’t really have a good reason why. The human body was made to run and jump and all kinds of crazy stuff! Even if you have to walk part of the run, who cares?? The feeling of accomplishment after your first HM is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had – and it was worth every mile I trained!

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  79. says

    advice: STICK WITH IT! i totally agree with you that ANYONE can do it… find a training plan that works for you and your schedule… there are a billion of them out there and stick with it, so you can join the “club,” cuz it’s pretty damn awesome! :)

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  80. says

    Having a plan and a running partner are my biggest advice! You’re right, with the right training…ANYONE can run a half marathon! Also, picking a good and exciting race is important. I’m running the Rock n’ Roll half marathon in DC this March! I’m pumped!

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  81. Hailey says

    So…I did it. After this post, I finally forced myself to go out and run this morning. I only ran a little less than half a mile but I haven’t even worked out in months so that was a big deal. I didn’t stop at all and I made it home in one huffy-puffy mess but it’s a start!! Thanks, Julie!

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  82. says

    I’m running my first half this Sunday and I also always felt like it was something I would never be able to do and running is incredibly difficult for me. The biggest things that have helped me are training with a friend (although my 2 solo long runs may be my very favorite part of the experience), telling everyone–like you said, it helps hold me accountable and the support I’ve gotten from everyone has been overwhelming, and learning how to fuel my body–I used to never eat before I ran and then the day came where I went to run 8 miles and I had eaten a light and early dinner the night before and by mile 6, I plain ran out of fuel and spent the end of my run feeling super hungry and worn down. The biggest thing that I would tell someone else though is that you can do anything. I believed for so long that this would never be a reality for me even though I always wanted to do it, and this whole process has been more about proving to myself what I’m capable of than anything, and I would love for everyone out there to know just how much they can do (in all areas of life really) if you just decide and don’t look back!

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  83. Karl says

    Julie, I want you to know that I have almost exclusively used your tips for running and nutrition over the past 5 months and I have reached the point where I went from no running to a 5k in just 3 months. I have also lost 46 lbs in those 5 months.
    I feel like I’m the only guy at times besides Ryan that reads your blog. :) I found it because of our love for PB but I just want to say thank you and let any other guys out there know that this will work for them as well.

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  84. says

    Thanks for these tips! I’ve wanted to run forever and am finally focusing on DOING IT this year! I’m also in the middle of the book Born To Run which is about ultrarunners and just what people are actually capable and it’s amazing. Its a pretty interesting read! I think people who already run would find it even more interesting than I do.

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  85. Laura Katherine says

    Hey Julie!!

    I was wondering what kind of watch you use for races/running? I’m wanting to invest in one but don’t know what kind to get… thanks!

    PS love your pinterest :)

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  86. says

    I haven’t fully decided. On the one hand, running to me is about one of the least fun things to do in the entire world. Running a long distance (longer than a block to catch a bus) doesn’t appeal to me. But reading race recaps about swag bags, and the great feeling of accomplishing something with so many other people, does appeal to me. Maybe. One day.

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  87. Josey says

    Hi Julie!
    Love your blog! My husband and I have enjoyed many a meal from your recipe section! =D
    I started as a total non-runner a few months ago and have (slowly, slowly) worked my way up to regularly running 2-3 miles 3-4 times a week on the treadmill at the gym. I know that’s nothing but I never thought I’d get past 1 mile when I started! (I’m more into strength training than cardio.) To celebrate, I’ve signed up for a 5K in mid-March. Was wondering how important you think training regularly outside is for me in preparation, since I’ve been running solely on the treadmill? I’ve heard running outside is generally harder….
    Appreciate any tips! Cheers!

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  88. Beth says

    one of my favorite tips for new runners who want to do long distances is to run your favorite route in loops – two loops of a familiar route means you can stash water/chomps in places you know well (or your front porch, a friend’s yard, etc.)

    as for treadmill training for outdoor running – living in the snowy North, i’ve completed many 10+ mile runs on a treadmill, including two 20-milers. the key there is to jazz it up with inclines/speed work and find a movie or a Kardashian marathon to keep you entertained :) the treadmill is handy for holding water and energy needed for your run

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  89. Meisha says

    I love all of the advice! Esp buying new running clothes. Sometimes I ‘treat’ myself to things like that as a reward for staying on track. I am training for a half marathon in October. I have run a few 5K’s and I plan on running a 10K in April. My boyfriend enjoys running too, but he thinks that anything more than a 10K can be damaging to your body, so I am alone on the desire to run a half, but I am hoping to win him over eventually.

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  90. MegT says

    I am a little late to this post, but I think you gave some great advice. I did my first half the first weekend in may and then my second memorial day week. The quality of the race makes a huge different. My first half had 17000 participants. There were spectators cheering you on from start to finish. Overall it was a great experience. My second half had maybe 900 racers. It was a very difficult course with hardly any spectator. If you did see a spectator they rarely were cheering. Even the racers were not as motivating to each other. To have that motivation from the crowd and other racers makes a big difference.

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  91. says

    hello, my name is Ricardo and I am Brazilian. I found your blog and saw that you ran an edition of the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I am interested in participating in one of the issues but I do not know what is the best to run. I would like if possible an indication of which one goes.
    Thanks

    Ricardo Sinesio

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  92. says

    Runners: If you could offer one piece of advice to someone interested in running their first half marathon, what would you say?

    –> don’t give up and stay cool 😉 just have fun and run as fast, as often, as far you can….. we are not for running, running is for us 😉 if you know what I mean (sorry for my English, I’m Polish ;))

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  93. Katie T says

    I just signed up for my first half-marathon! I have run 4 5k’s, 2 Warrior Dashes (5k’s with obstacles) and a Muddy Buddy (6 miles with obstacles), and have been running for about a year and a half. I am by no means a typical runner, I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis among other joint problems, but running keeps me loose and has become, dare I say, fun? :) Julie, you are very inspiring! Thanks for this post!

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  94. dan b says

    just decided to do a half 2 days ago. i discharged from the military 3 weeks ago so running isnt new to me but i despise it.. however iv just had my second shoulder op in 18 months with a 12month rehab time. that limits my options to running and cycling.. tossed a coin and running it is. never run more than 10km but im jus gonna take it slow and steady. fingers crossed the old shins make it uninjured through to race day. considering how much i hate running im pretty excited about the challnge. cant wait!

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  95. Kate C says

    I love your blog !! I really wanted to achieve a half marathon this year but have been swamped and havent been able to run as much as I would like i run only once or twice a week doing 4 or 5 miles. My question is do you think if I REALLY start pushing the next 4 1/2 weeks I would be able to achieve a half marathon? I am a little scared that I wont bc I havent been training for 4 months like some people, what do you think?? Nervous and excited !! :) thank you

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  96. Alex says

    I love your post! I just found your blog and it’s so inspirational! I’ve wanted to start running and training for the longest time but it feels like I can never get enough time or motivation to follow through with it, so I just told one of my friend about it and we are planning to start training together :)
    I do have one big question though! I’m in college right now with a tight budget so obviously it’s easy to slack of on eating well, but how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle on a small budget? I feel like buying a lot of ingredients to prep stuff makes it more expensive but I really want to do better. Thanks for you time :)

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  97. says

    I was googling things about half marathons and found your blog! I love it. I love that you say you aren’t naturally a runner, because that is how I feel.

    When you trained on your treadmill, what speed did you set it at?

    I’m thinking about running one in August and don’t know what pace to start at.

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  99. Jordan M says

    I just wanted to say I love your blog and this post about running halfs! I am currently about to start training for my second half marathon! I ran the Rock and Roll in San Antonio last year and will run the same one again. One of the things that help is finding someone you are comfortable with to be your running buddy. I am not a runner at all, so I was kind of embarrassed to run with someone else. But a buddy does help! Another thing that helped me was running in different places. I made sure I was familiar with the area, but changing the scenery really helps keep you from getting bored! The other thing I learned is that you have to train for the incline! I live in Midland Tx, and it is as flat as possible here, my race was in downtown San Antonio and the mini hills killed me! Thanks for all the helpful tips as I start to get ready for race two!!!

    Any tips for nondairy pre run snacks?

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  100. Melissa says

    Thank you so much for this post. I am signed up for my first EVER half marathon, Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Half in November and I am NOT a runner! I never run, i’ve tried to start a couple of times but I just can’t keep it up as a lifestyle so I’m hoping that having a deadline, a goal will help me stay committed to becoming a runner. The marathon is 13 weeks away and with no weekly mileage under my belt I am not trying to finish in a certain amount of time, I just want to finish.

    If you have any advice on what kind of a training plan I should use, please let me know!

    Thanks so much!

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