Tips for First Timers
Are you ready to start training to run your first half marathon? Are you getting ready to crush your next one? These 10 tips and tricks will help you do just that!
If you are beginning this journey with little to no aerobic fitness, start slow and enjoy the process. Remember, it's okay to walk!
10 Tips to Your First or Best Half Marathon
1. Know where your journey begins - There are many paths and plans that will get you to your first half marathon or even your best half marathon. Are you starting from the couch? Have you been running a few days a week? Are you race ready already? Be mindful and accepting of your starting point!
2. Pick a Training Plan and Trust It - With so many online resources, pick a plan that you think best fits your fitness level and stick to it. If you are new to running, choose a plan that has you running three days a week and if necessary, take walk breaks. If it seems easy, increase your pace. If it seems difficult, slow down.
3. Get good running shoes – Running is a relatively inexpensive sport and great way to stay in shape but you must take care of your feet. Find a good running store, get shoes that fit, (typically ½ to 1 size larger than you normally wear) and try them before you buy them.
4. Find a Friend or a Group - Getting into running shape can be difficult and even hurt. Having a training partner or running with a group can really help keep your mind in a good place.
5. Listen to your body - As you build up mileage, you may feel fatigue, aches or pains that are new to you. Take an extra day off or slow down your pace. Rest and recover!
6. Cross-train - On your off days, you can cross-train with spinning, cycling, swimming or yoga. Recovery is key!
7. Run the Long Run - One of the most important things you can do is your weekly long run. Early in your training, it may only be a 5 miler. Increase each week until your long run is at least 75% - 80% of your race distance. Plan on running an 11 mile run, a minute or two slower than race pace, two weeks before your race. The long run not only builds the endurance that you will need on race day but it also builds your confidence!
8. Learn to Drink/Eat/Fuel on the run- Depending on your fitness level, age, etc, you could be on the course for two to three hours. Carry water or an electrolyte replenishment with you and learn to drink it while you are running/walking. Also, there are many kinds of energy bars and gels that you can carry with you to help give you that boost when you feel the fatigue. Your long run is a great time to see what works well for your body.
9. Nothing New - From shoes and socks, food/drink, and shorts or top, find what your body likes. On race day, stick to what you know. This will minimize distraction, and allow you to focus on the run!
10. Have Fun and Smile- Running is not only physical. Check into the mental side of the sport with a smile. Some ways to stay positive on the course include thanking the volunteers, enjoying others running around you, and being grateful for the experience!
This is not one of the 10 tips but let's call it #11. Choosing a charity and raising money is my bonus tip. Making your miles matter can help give you the additional drive and accountability to lace them up and train when you’d rather be sleeping in.
Good luck, have fun and enjoy your run.