5 tips to train for your first half marathon
If you are new to the running scene you may have already completed a handful of local 5k or 10k’s and now have the bug to tackle a half marathon. The energy of running on a beautiful morning with several thousand people is tremendous inspiration to get the distance done and then enjoy a festive social scene afterwards!
Here are 5 tips that will make your first half marathon training experience a successful and memorable one!
1. Get a training buddy and pick a destination race.
Find a training partner with similar running experience and capabilities that you can take with you on your half marathon training journey. During the weeks and months of preparation you can hold each other accountable to complete all the training runs and improve your diet and overall fitness.
Find a half marathon in a fun, exciting place you both want to visit. There are literally thousands of half marathons to choose from around the world. Here at Live Run Travel we have our eye on the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas this fall. Talk about a fun party! The race is on the strip at night under the neon lights. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right?
If you’re looking for camaraderie, support, and tons of fun, think about joining our group trip. You can see our package option here:
2. Set a realistic goal and execute your training plan.
We all may have visions of emulating fleet-footed Olympians cranking out 5:15 miles, but no. Your first goal is to finish without feeling like you are going to die. Next would be to finish close to your targeted finish time and feel great doing it!
There are so many great resources out there online to find half marathon training plans for beginners. Once you start looking at the plans you will notice that most of the plans build miles incrementally for a few weeks with a week periodically that is for rest and recovery.
3. Have your running form analyzed.
Improper running form can quickly lead to repetitive use injuries that will sideline your training efforts. Many local running stores have certified coaches that can look at your form and help you put your body and stride in the proper place for maximum efficiency.
Everyone’s feet are different as well. Utilize this local expertise to get fitted with the right shoe to help encourage you to engage in proper running form. The right shoe is not the one that matches your outfit! Pairing the appropriate shoe with your stride and foot structure will keep you moving on down the road!
- Bonus training tip:
Utilize a run/walk strategy, especially on your long runs AND on race day. This could be running between each mile marker along the course and then switching to a swift walking mode for 100 yards or so. This is a great time to take in fuel and hydrate. Practice doing this on your long training runs so you will be used to shifting gears on race day.
4. Get enough sleep and rest.
Getting enough sleep and recovery while training is just as important as running all the miles. Overtraining can lead to burnout and injury before you ever get to the starting line. Rest means rest!
Use the off days on your weekly schedule to incorporate stretching and some other gentle body movement to help your muscles recover. Try a yoga class for increased flexibility and core strength training. Tai Chi and Pilates are other practices that are complementary to a running regimen.
5. Practice Fueling/Hydration Strategies
Most half marathon training plans will have you running 3-4 times a week including a progressively longer run each weekend. These long runs will build-up towards the half marathon distance and usually top off at 10-11 miles.
Use these long runs to experiment with your hydration and fuel strategies. As a part of your trailing log, be sure to keep track of what you eat and drink during your runs in addition to the miles you run. They say you can’t outrun a bad diet, so it will also benefit you to keep a complete food journal of everything you consume during the week. This will help you eliminate empty calories and improve your metabolic efficiency and recovery.
Find out in advance what will be offered to eat and drink at aid stations along the course. Most events carry one type of sports drink or brand and flavors of gels at all of their aid stations. Use these exact items during your long training runs to see how your body handles processing them while putting out effort under race conditions.
- Click here for fueling tips from an ultramarathoner who ran Route 66 from Chicago to the Santa Monica Pier!
Have fun of course! Maybe sign-up for a few local 5ks or 10ks during your training and take advantage of the energy and vibe of race day. Celebrate the victories along the way. You got this!
The Live Run Travel Community puts high value on active indulgence. If that sounds like you, connect with us! We’d love to see you on our next adventure.