We all have our reasons for running a half marathon, whether it’s on our own or otherwise. Maybe you’ve been persuaded into signing up for your first race, just to have your training buddy bail on you last minute. Maybe running a race has always been on your bucket list. Or maybe you’re ready to finally see what the marathon hype is all about. Whatever the reason, you blinked and suddenly race day is just months away and you can’t believe people willingly pay money to do this. (Or maybe that was just me?)
Well fear not, dear first-timers, I’m happy to report that I recently ran my first half marathon and lived to tell the tale. Now, I’m sharing some personal do’s and don’ts I learned along the way to running 13.1 miles in just over two hours.
DO make a training schedule. Whether your goal is to hit a certain time or to just simply cross the finish line, a training schedule is necessary for any type of marathon. Make one that suits you, your fitness level, and your schedule. Once you get in the groove, it’s smooth sailing to race day!
DO change up your training route. Taking different routes and mixing up the scenery can not only keep you motivated, but it’ll help you test out different terrains and elevation levels. Research local parks, trails, and tracks in your area and start covering ground.
DON’T get discouraged if it doesn’t seem to be getting easier. If it’s getting easy, this probably means you need to be running longer and harder. If not, stick with your pace and believe in yourself. Come race day you’ll be hyped on adrenaline and your fellow runners will keep you energized!
DO track progress. Every time you finish a run, track it on your Fitbit app or mark it off on your calendar. It’s so satisfying seeing race day get closer and closer!
DON’T switch sneakers for race day. Known fact—never run a marathon in sneakers you haven’t trained or broken in. That’s a recipe for blisters, aches, and foot pain.
DO test out your race day outfit before the race. Your race day outfit is more important than you think it is, and it’s even more vital to test it out beforehand. Unsupportive socks, an itchy sports bra or loose shorts is enough to slow anyone down. Test out all your options to make sure you’re race ready. Remember, you only run your first half marathon once!
DON’T do a long run days before your race. The last week before your race should be dedicated to resting, stretching, and conserving energy. Light workouts and short runs are recommended, as you also don’t want to risk an injury when you’re in the home stretch!
DO create a playlist. There’s nothing like some of your favorite tunes to get you totally amped up before and during your marathon. Be sure to create a playlist that has a running time that’s as long or longer than your expected finish time. This way it can play on a loop, you can keep jammin’, and you won’t have to take out your phone to change the song mid-stride.
DON’T get overwhelmed by all the people. Walking up to the starting line with hundreds of people can feel a bit like a game of frogger as you weave your way through other participants. However, once you get going, the crowd breaks up and what seemed so intimidating at first becomes a huge part of what actually keeps you going. Your fellow runners will keep you driven with an inspiring sense of camaraderie. Not to mention, so many of the runners’ families come out to support with clever and witty signs. The one that rang most true, and made me crack a smile even though I felt like my legs might give out, read: “No one made you do this!”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.