Training For Your First Half Marathon

May 10, 2018

Training For Your First Half Marathon

For those of us that don’t run often, or maybe just run a few miles a day to stay in shape, training for our first half marathon can seem like a daunting task.  Here’s some advice to make your first half marathon run (pun intended) as smoothly as possible!

There are lots of great reasons to go after that first half marathon.  Maybe it’s something your friends do and you’d like to join them, or maybe it’s for a great cause (most races are!).  Whatever your reason, accomplishing a big goal like this will feel great and help you stay in shape.

So what’s the first step?  This may sound crazy, but sign up for the race you want to compete in!  Give yourself 20 weeks of training time unless you’re already in good running shape.  It would also help to sign up for a 5k 4-5 weeks in, and then a 10k around 12 weeks. These will give you a feel for running in a race so you aren’t quite as nervous come race day.

If you’re feeling really inspired and need an even bigger goal, choose a race in a different city or town to up your motivation and make things exciting.  Scroll down for our list of some half marathons you may want to run in.

20 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule

First things first.  You’re going to want to create (or use the link below) a 20 week half marathon training schedule.  This is designed to keep you on track and help you build up to running a full 13.1 miles. Following this schedule closely will get you to where you feel very comfortable with the distance on race day.

You can always adjust the schedule to fit your lifestyle better, but stick to whatever you create!

Here’s the 20 week half marathon training schedule we recommend following:

Sticking with your half marathon training schedule

This is where most people don’t make the cut.  Studies have shown that habits take around 40-60 days to form, and that the toughest time to stick to your new habit is the last few days of this period.  

Running is not an exception to this rule!  Adding accountability whether it’s with your roommates, close friends, wife, husband, etc… will ensure you stick to your training program.  Practice makes perfect and the more you get out there and run, the easier each run will become.

Better yet, find a running partner to train and run the race with, this buddy will be there for you every day and get you out when you don’t want to go…

There are also running groups and clubs that can make running more enjoyable and motivate you to keep going.  Whatever you do, don’t skip days due to lack of motivation, it’s only that much harder to get back after it when you skip one.

Practice Methods

Time your practice runs, and vary your speed and intensity.  Keeping these times in a log will show your improvements and keep you on track.  By varying speed and intensity you begin to understand what works for you and what doesn’t, so you can find your best pace for longer runs.

Pacing is what will get you there come race day.  By knowing what works best and you’re sweet spot for speed and distance, you can make sure you don’t burn out too far into the run.

Try changing up your run to keep it fun and interesting.  When you keep doing the same loop it can grow old quickly which might kill your motivation.  

Another way to stay interested is by listening to some music or podcasts that you really enjoy.  It can be tough running to a podcast but it keeps your mind working and you can actually go further when you aren’t in your own head!

And finally, don’t dodge out on a run due to rain or less desirable weather.  Every run you miss makes it tougher to go again!

Routines and Rituals

Ever notice how a tennis player will bounce a ball 2-3 times before serving?  This is called a ritual and it helps them ease and focus their mind. It’s essentially a quick calibration before serving.  During your half marathon training, you’ll quickly develop these routines / rituals. Take note on what’s working and what isn’t.  These can include things like what you eat during or before a run, your stretching routine, and what you drink for energy.

Energy tablets like PepPods can work great before your run and will help you keep going strong.  If you get in the habit of drinking a PepPod before your run, make sure and do the same thing every time.  This creates balance, and the repetition will make your run feel consistent.

This also applies to your running outfit or shoes.  Whatever you do, don’t change it up race day! Stick with what you’re used to and the race will go smoothly.

Race Day Tips and Techniques

Start your day off with a good healthy meal that works well with your body.  This means not eating a ton of greasy or sugary foods! A banana is a great option because it will help keep you from developing leg cramps during the run.  

You likely will know exactly what you should eat before running from experience over the previous 20 weeks.

Stretch in the morning and think of it as just another one of your training runs.  This helps reduce the pressure and nerves.

Keep in mind that although there’s other people and excitement going on around you, you’re still just out for another run.  Treat it like any run you normally take. If you have a playlist you always listen to or a pre-run routine, stick with it on race day!

The most important part of race day?  Have fun! Sure, you need to keep your focus and techniques, but enjoy the race.  It shouldn’t be too hard because you’ve built up to this moment. Be proud of yourself and how far you’ve come and don’t pressure yourself to set a record time.  20 weeks before you were just hoping to be able to run the whole race!

Here’s a list of some great locations for half marathons you may want to take on:

Berkeley Half Marathon

Yosemite Half Marathon

Cambridge Half Marathon

La Jolla Half Marathon

Yellowstone Half Marathon

Key West Half Marathon

Baltimore Half Marathon

Golden Gate Half Marathon

Grand Canyon Half Marathon

Rock and Roll Half Marathon Chicago

Disney Half Marathon

NYC Half Marathon

Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon

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