After running for 17+ years, it’s easy for me to jump ahead when talking about training or sharing my weekly workouts. I dive in to things like try matching your breathing to alternating feet or why you have to rotate shoes.
But I remember when I was starting and needed some basic advice on how to get started and really how to keep going even when I was sucking wind so hard it hurt.
The biggest questions you email me about are usually injuries, shoes and what to eat before/after running. You’ll find a ton of those answered throughout this blog.
Today I wanted to step back and reach out to some of the other FABULOUS running coaches I’ve come to know and ask what their best piece of advice would be for someone tackling their first half marathon.I reached out to 8 coaches for one piece of advice and there is definitely a theme that you need to enjoy the experience!! After they all said that, I asked them to dive in to some additional areas.
First Half Marathon Tips
“Respect the distance but do not fear it. Trust in your training and in yourself, believing that you can and WILL finish, and learn a lot about yourself in the process. But above all else, don’t forget to soak it all in, have some fun and be darn proud of yourself!”
Coach Christina of Strength to Run.
“Give yourself plenty of time to train. Take the time to build your base mileage before even starting a training plan. Depending on your running experience that could be a few weeks or a few months.
Once you can run about 5-6 miles for your long run, and are running around 15 miles per week, then start your actual half marathon training. If you jump right into it before your body is ready, you are much more likely to get injured.”
Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs
NO MAKE UPS
“If you miss a training day, don’t freak out and try to add the miles on tomorrow… shrug your shoulders and stay on your plan for both your body and mind.”
Taylorr Lifting Revolution
“Don’t go out too fast. It’s so easy to get swept up in the adrenaline at the start of a race but you will pay the price later for going out too fast.
The best way to avoid doing this is to find your goal pace bunny or pace group and stick with them. That way your pacing will stay consistent and you won’t fade by the end. If you feel like you still have some energy left with 2-3km left, then by all means pick it up.”
Phaedra of PK Performance Coaching NUTRITION TESTING
“Pay attention to nutrition during training runs to see what works best for you – this is probably the first distance race where some sort of calories (gel, chomps, gu, etc) needs to be consumed in order to finish comfortably. “
Michele NYC Running Mama
BREAK IT DOWN
When training for your first half marathon, the thought of running double digit mileage in training and in race day can be wildly overwhelming. Many of my clients start at the beginning and think “there is no way I can run thirteen miles, I’m currently struggling with only 5 miles!” Remember that the training process is designed to gradually get you to where you need to be, and put a little trust into that process.
During training, instead of thinking about how far you have to go and letting it overwhelm you, remind yourself instead that each long run is “just a little further than what I did last week.” You can think of it in time (just another 10 minutes or so!) in songs (three more songs than last week!”), or whatever other shorter increment that makes the goal seem more attainable.
On race day, break your race up into aid stations. Think to yourself “OK, I am going to run to the first water stop”. When you get there, think “Great! Now I’m going to run to the next water stop!” Breaking your race into smaller, seemingly more attainable shorter goals can be far less overwhelming than thinking solely about the big picture!
Heather Relentless Forward Motion
“Focus on building distance and speed on alternate weeks, so you don’t overtax your body and risk injury (or skip the speed work altogether for the first one.)”
Laura Mommy Run Fast
Trust your training
“That phrase is used often in endurance sports for a good reason. If you did all that training, you really can do this!
Think about all those times you set those early alarms to get the miles in, and think about specific runs that you powered through when the going got tough. Trust that those days prepared you for race day. You are strong and capable, and you’ve got this!”
Ashley of A Happy Pace
Now that you’re feeling more motivated and hopefully a little less stressed, it’s time to keep training and keep learning!
Part of this process is simply overcoming your belief that it’s a crazy distance to run…after that there are some logistical things that will help keep you mentally sane:
- Download a half marathon checklist to print out to pack and prep for race day
- Checkout the 18 things I wish I’d known before my first race!
- Review my top tips for managing race day nerves
What’s the best advice you received before your first half marathon?
Haven’t done one yet, what information would help you?
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