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!
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!)
- 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.
- Follow a quality plan. I followed Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon Training Plan for my first half marathon and would highly recommend it. For my second half, I followed a plan I made up for myself, using several different plans to create a personalized plan that worked well for me. I’ve also heard great things about the plans you can find on RunnersWorld.com and Jeff Galloway’s training plans that utilize a run/walk style of training.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?