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(For some reason last night, I said, “Stay tuned for a post called So You Want To Run a 5K,” when I really I intended it to be about a Half… no idea why I promised a 5K post.  However, the tips below include information on how to get 5K ready, which of course if the first step to running a half! Sorry for the confusion… my brain is shot due to book-writing.)

 

Four years ago, I felt like a girl without direction.  I started to read healthy living and running blogs at my desk at work and – combined with the urging of BFF Lauren – I started to think about developing a healthy hobby… namely, one that didn’t involve going to work or heading to the bar. ;) Specifically, I wanted to do RACES.  Because what could be cooler?  And how often as adults do we get to participate in a physical competition that involves a congratulatory medal at the end?!

 

Also, even back then, I realized that I was a reward-driven person and having a deadline would help me stay on track.

 

Despite not really considering myself a runner yet (the first time Lauren talked me into a run, I ran 1/4 mile and collapsed on a sidewalk), I decided to sign up for a race.  I ran a 10K in Pittsburgh in the snow all by myself, and it was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with running.  Since that day, I’ve done 32 races, including 3 half marathons and 2 marathons.

 

My halves include:

 

The Marine Corps Half in JAX, Florida: 2:06:30 (October 2008)

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The Gasparilla Half in Tampa, FL: 2:03:00 (May 2009)

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The OUC Half Marathon in Orlando, FL: 1:58:45 in December 2009

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Because race season is nearly upon us in most parts of the country, I’ve been getting a ton of e-mails from newbie runners who are considering running a half marathon.  I thought it would fun to share my advice – but remember, I’m not a professional trainer, just a girl who loves to run, and this is just feedback based on my experiences.  Talk to a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

 

WHY THE HALF MARATHON?

 

  • I think this distance is obtainable for most people of moderate fitness in 3 – 5 months.
  • Half marathon training doesn’t take over your entire existence the way that marathon training consumes you.
  • You’re less likely to get injured training for a half than a full.
  • The distance is long enough to make the race seem ‘worth it.’  Some people, even newer runners, feel like they don’t hit a running groove until 5 miles or so in.  If you were running a 5K or 10K, the race would be over.
  • Most large, popular races are at least a half marathon distance.
  • It’s a great physical challenge.  A half marathon isn’t half of anything!

 

CHOOSE YOUR RACE WISELY

 

  • Choose your race wisely to ensure you’re not setting yourself up for failure (or at least a miserable experience).
  • Select a race that likely to have moderate temperatures (50 – 60’s are great).
  • Look online and try to find a less-hilly course.  If the course is hilly, you’re going to need to train on hills.
  • Read race reviews on a website like RaceVine.com.  Look for a race that is known for being organized.
  • Check out the course map to see how well-staffed it will be.  My second marathon only had 4 – 5 water stops, which was definitely a negative.  A good half should have at least 8 stops, preferably more.  Otherwise, you will need to carry your own liquids.  Not a huge deal, but something to consider.
  • If you’re traveling a long distance for the race, check out this post on Foodie Fresh for details you’ll want to consider.
  • Lastly, consider timing.  Signing up for a race right after busy season at work could mean your training will suffer.

 

FOLLOW THE PLAN

 

  • Although I tinker with training plans, I highly recommend that people follow a training plan for their first half.
  • If you’re truly starting from ground zero, begin with Couch to 5K.  This is a run/walk program that will get you running 3.1 miles in just 9 weeks.
  • Other good novice programs to get you up to a 5K include Hal Hidgon or Runner’s World.
  • Once you can run a 5K, you can graduate to other half plans.  I really love Hal’s plan, which is 12 weeks.  The only thing I personally do not like about Hal’s novice plan is that it maxes out at 10 miles (the race is 13.1).  Although the aderaline will carry you through, I prefer plans that get you a little closer to the distance.  Check out this intermediate plan for end-of-training modifications (add a week or two to the novice if you want to get closer to race distance, don’t skip ahead).

 

WALK THIS WAY

 

  • It’s okay to WALK!  This deserves it’s own section because I know people get really worked up with walking vs. running, and I’m here to tell you that it’s fine.
  • Doing walk/run intervals (see the Couch to 5K plan, linked above) can actually make you faster overall than if you just slowly jogged the entire thing.
  • Walking gives you a mental and physical break.   It can be a huge morale booster if you don’t look at walking as a negative.
  • I walked/ran the last two miles of the half marathon that I set a 4 minute personal record.  I also walk/ran the last several miles of the marathon that I set a 22 minute PR… basically, walking rules!

 

TRAIN SMART

 

  • Cross training is very important to prevent injuries and mental burnout.  I like biking or power yoga for cross training.
  • If you feel a nagging overuse injury coming on, immediately cease all activity until the pain goes away.  If it comes back when you attempt to exercise again, go to a sports medicine doctor ASAP.
  • If you fall off the wagon for more than a few days, don’t fret – training plans build in room for error.  Just start back where you left off.
  • Always do your long runs!!!  They are very important, both physically and mentally.
  • Train with a friend or a local running club to make it seem easier.
  • Supplementing with calories becomes necessary over 9 miles (for me; it varies from person to person).  Consider Gu shots and or a mix of Gatorade/water to provide you with the calories you need.  I take in about 200 – 300 calories during a half marathon.
  • If you feel like you need some extra motivation or advice for running your first half-marathon, don’t be afraid to go and seek out a certified personal trainer (for example, this linked-to HTP sponsor helps find local trainers).

 

LEARN MORE:

 

 

Are you currently training for your first half?  Did you recently run your first half?  What advice do you have to share with other newbies?

{ 183 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate February 1, 2011, 9:23 am

    Great advice. I’m sort of a “newbie” runner when it comes to long distances so I’m working up the courage to go out for a half marathon this summer. :) Thanks!!

    Reply
  • Kathie @ Frugal Fit and Fabulous February 1, 2011, 9:27 am

    What perfect timing!!! I am using the Girls Gotta Move 5k training program (Im on Week 3 of 5) to run my first 5k this year. Ive been thinking the last week i’d love to do a half this year also. I didnt think it would be obtainable but I can see now that it is. :o) Thanks for writing this when you did. I’ll be sure to investigate your links and find a good program and race this year.

    Im also glad you addressed the walking factor. A lot of us are competitive and we feel that if we walk we are failing. Not the case as you’ve reminded us — it’s actually beneficial. Sometimes, we just have to hear it so thank you.

    Reply
  • Marissa C February 1, 2011, 9:28 am

    I am training for my first half! It is the Rock and Roll 1/2 in Dallas in March. I’m also doing walk/run. I enjoy it so much more. I had never run more than 3 miles before starting the class and now I’m doing 10 mile long runs and feeling pretty good! I train with a class sponsored by an awesome local running store–Run on in Dallas. I’m so excited and I think I’m going to sign up for their marathon class that starts in July.

    Yay for running! Just 6 months ago I said maybe “someday” I could force a half-marathon but would never do a marathon. How things change!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:10 am

      OH how fun to do a ‘class’ with a running store – a good way to meet people, too!

      Reply
    • Michelle @ the cooking life February 1, 2011, 1:51 pm

      Hi Marissa, I’m doing the Dallas Rock n Roll half as well! Good luck with training!

      Reply
      • Marissa C February 1, 2011, 1:53 pm

        Woohoo!

        Reply
  • Whitney February 1, 2011, 9:30 am

    I have run three halves as well and deem it as my favorite distance for a lot of the reasons you mentioned above. I’m still trying to convince myself to take the leap and sign up for a marathon, maybe after my wedding this summer :)

    Reply
  • Ann @ Day by Day February 1, 2011, 9:34 am

    I’m training for my first half marathon now! This was great information for me. And interesting to read that most runners don’t hit their “groove” until 5 miles in. The longest I’ve run yet is 8 miles and I was so surprised at how much easier the second half was. Way easier than when I do a 4 mile run that seems tough the whole time.

    Reply
    • Amy February 1, 2011, 12:15 pm

      I found this to be true as well! I always huffed and puffed my way through 2-mile runs, but once I started training I was AMAZED by how much I enjoyed running 5+ miles.

      Reply
  • kalin February 1, 2011, 9:37 am

    I just started training for my first half (I actually just posted about it last night! http://wp.me/pB8Kq-MV ). I’m doing a training program through a local running store.
    One of my friends gave me the advice to tell *everyone* about your race-the more people that know, the more you feel like you have to stick with it!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:11 am

      That is good advice and part of the reason why I blog!

      Reply
  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday February 1, 2011, 9:38 am

    Awesome! This was so informative.

    I’m actually doing marathon training right now which is going really well. I’m almost up to 13 miles on my long runs!

    Reply
  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story February 1, 2011, 9:39 am

    Fantastic post! I did my first half in October and for awhile never thought I would do another longer distance run again…but lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing one again. :/ Why does that always happen? haha

    Reply
  • Jessica February 1, 2011, 9:40 am

    My goal for this year is to run a half and I’ve just started looking at races so THANK YOU for this post! It is very helpful :)

    Reply
  • Michelle February 1, 2011, 9:40 am

    I’m training for my first half right now! It’s March 20th and i’m way excited. The best thing i’ve learned so far is to listen to my body. I’m currently on a forced rest day because of some odd outer foot pain. (Oddly, it sounds like the same thing you had Catlin!) I want to push it but i know the end goal of the race is more important then tonight’s scheduled workout.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:11 am

      Rest and ice! I hope you feel better soon!

      Reply
      • Michelle February 1, 2011, 11:47 am

        Thanks! :) (And sorry I spelled your name wrong in the original comment – just caught that!)

        Reply
  • Kaitlin February 1, 2011, 9:41 am

    What a great post! I’m certainly forwarding this on to all of my newbie friends. I’m training for my first full right now, I can’t wait!

    Reply
  • Rachel February 1, 2011, 9:41 am

    How fitting. I just registered for the Boston Run to Remember last Sunday!

    Reply
  • Laura February 1, 2011, 9:42 am

    I’ve given the Couch to 5K program two tries and have only made it five or six weeks before getting bored/frustrated/discouraged and giving up. Part of me still wants to be a runner, but I can’t get over the mental hurdle. I started taking taekwondo classes in December, and really love it for the work out, and mental/emotional rewards (confidence, accountability, stress relief, etc.). There is a woman in my class who I have started to become friends with…maybe she can become my “learn to run” buddy to help me get past the six week hump! Also, my first two attempts at Couch to 5K were in the winter/late fall… cold weather doesn’t exactly entice me to lace up and head outside.

    Maybe this is my year…

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:12 am

      I agree, the cold weather makes it hard to get and stay motivated. I cannot wait til spring!

      Reply
  • Morgan February 1, 2011, 9:43 am

    I am a newbie runner myself. I have only ran in two 5k’s but I have greatly enjoyed getting into running. I signed up for my first half, the Savannah Rock and Roll in November. It gives me a goal to look forward too and for someone who could barely run a mile last year, I am so ready to tackle my training plan! Great post. I think the half is a great distance!

    Reply
  • Ali @ Ali on the Run February 1, 2011, 9:43 am

    Great post! I ran my first 1/2 in 2009 and became addicted. You’re so right that it’s an attainable, yet totally challenging goal. It’s a wonderful distance and I’ll admit, I do it for the medals now! I love my race bling.

    Reply
  • Julianne February 1, 2011, 9:43 am

    I’m running the Pittsburgh half again this year and this post is a reminder that I need to get my booty in gear, thanks!

    And for newbies, follow your plan and trust your training, the rest will fall into place!

    Reply
  • Megan February 1, 2011, 9:43 am

    Thanks so much for sharing that! As I posted on my new years resolution post, I’m definitely thinking about taking up running and getting a 13.1 sticker would be so cool!!

    After all that running talk, how about a recipe? Take a trip to my blog where I may have just posted my best recipe yet!! Sweet, simple, delicious, and only 5 ingredients :)

    Reply
  • LindseyAnn February 1, 2011, 9:50 am

    I ran my first half last September. My biggest piece of advice would be to enjoy the ride. I’ve never had more fun with running than I did training for that half last summer! Every new distance you hit it worth celebrating as much as the actual race day will be.
    Also, if you don’t have any runner friends or a running group to join, you can always have a friend or family member bike with you! My fiance hopped on his bike and rode with me for all my runs above 9 miles, and it felt great to have his support out there :)
    Finally, and I think Caitlin touched on this: your training plan is not written in stone. By that, I mean if you wake up and feel like garbage and you’re supposed to run that day, or you have something come up unexpectedly and can’t get out for the long run, you can swap a rest day or a shorter run out and save the other run for when you feel better or have more time. Make sure you get it in, obviously, but it is OK to tweak the plans a little.

    Thanks for this post!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:13 am

      What a good idea to have your fiance bike along side you! The hubster did that for me once during a 16 miler and it was so nice.

      Reply
  • Abby February 1, 2011, 9:52 am

    I’m running my first half on April 3rd this year! Really in the heat of training right now! I’m a bit nervous because the course is HILLY but I’m doing my best to train on a fair amount of hills so that I’m prepared. Honestly though, I have issues on long runs with mental focus so to keep me on track I do a run15min walk2min pattern for my long runs and I plan to do it during the race. Thanks for the advice Caitlin!

    Reply
  • Janene @ One Run at a Time February 1, 2011, 10:01 am

    I’m training for my first half (the Flying Pig in May!) after getting injured in my first attempt last Fall. I got overzealous and tried to do more than I could, and also followed a training plan to a T without taking into account what my body was telling me. So this time around, I tweaked a training plan to suit me: I extended it, allowing me to build my weekly mileage more slowly to make it work for me and my body. I’m 9 weeks in with 13 weeks to go, and ROCKING it! Woo hoo! So excited to toe the line on race day and rock it out!

    Reply
    • Allison @ Happy Tales February 1, 2011, 5:35 pm

      You go girl!!!!! I’m training for the full Flying Pig marathon! Cincinnati is my hometown, so I’m so excited to run my first full marathon there!!

      Reply
  • Chris February 1, 2011, 10:03 am

    Yep started C25K in late Aug 2010 and then moved to HH Novice. Have a half planned for 2/19 but was sidetracked by flu just after making 9 mile long run history. A little worried about getting back on track! Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  • Martha Lilian February 1, 2011, 10:04 am

    I absolutely love these tips! As someone who is currently in week 4 of C25K and looking to run a half in August, this is really awesome advice. I had been planning on using Hal Higdon’s half training plan and was a little nervous about the shorter length long runs at the end as well.

    Reply
  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair February 1, 2011, 10:09 am

    Those are awesome tips! I am a huge fan of the tip to take walk breaks! I ran my first half and RAN the entire way (though very slowly at the end) and during my 2nd and 3rd half I took walk breaks and ended up cutting huge amounts off of my time!! Walk breaks are super important for me when running.

    Reply
  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) February 1, 2011, 10:10 am

    I am sadly not a runner, but I love that you give advice like this. I think training for anything, including healthy living needs to be thought of as a plan. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  • Lisa February 1, 2011, 10:12 am

    ice advice! Do you have any favorite websites for finding races in your area, other than racevine?

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:14 am

      Active.com is perfect!

      Reply
      • Lisa February 1, 2011, 11:41 am

        OMG Active.com is too perfect – now I’ve found about 5 races I want to do… how to choose?! :)

        Reply
  • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 10:17 am

    I’m really glad you put this post up! Perfect timing! Im currently on the 5k training plan, week 3, and I’ve noticed an ache in the muscles on the inside of my legs, below the knee. Do you think that falls under a potential injury brewing? Did you have a similar ache when you began running? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:17 am

      This *MIGHT* be runner’s knee, there is no way for me to really tell over the Internet (plus I’m not a doctor). But that’s what happens to me and it’s a really common injury.

      Check out:

      http://www.healthytippingpoint.dreamhosters.com/2009/09/knee-pain.html

      My advice is to start with icing and then move to the knee sleeve if you think its runner’s knee. also, do some strength building moves.

      Reply
  • Lauren February 1, 2011, 10:18 am

    I’ve run 3 halfs so far (my first one at age 13), and the best tips I have are follow your schedule and cross-train. I always adjust my training schedule at the beginning of the week if I know I have conflicts one day, so I’ll switch my running days around. I have to cross-train to add variety into my schedule, and spinning and yoga are wonderful to recover and strength for runs. Half marathons are my favorite race because it’s long but doable in a shorter amount of training time. Love your tips!

    Reply
  • Amanda February 1, 2011, 10:21 am

    I also use Hal’s Training Plan for my half marathons! It’s so helpful and really keeps me on track!

    Reply
  • Kara February 1, 2011, 10:22 am

    I actually think training up to 10 is fine for a half, unless you need it mentally. I’m doing my first full in March and my best half marathon advice is to remember that it’s 98% mental. 13 miles doesn’t have to be hard if you don’t frame it that way in your mind. Sure you still need that other 2%, but your mindset is the most important thing.

    To find good races, join your local running club (find it on google) or search Active.com. I get discounts on local races by being a member of the club (and there aren’t any meetings or anything). Also, try to read blogs to find recaps for races you might be interested in doing!

    Get fitted for shoes BEFORE you start training for a half. Don’t wait for pain to motivate you to go. Invest in non cotton socks and non cotton underwear, it’s worth it.

    And lastly, remember to put sunscreen on before every long run :)

    Reply
  • Leanne (For Health's Sake) February 1, 2011, 10:22 am

    This post couldn’t come at a better time! I’ve been weighing in my mind what races I want to “tackle” this upcoming summer and was considering a half marathon. I might move that goal to summer of 2012 because the training would interfere with all the wedding planning/wedding stuff I have going on in August. I think a 5km and a 10km this summer will be good!

    I really want to do a half though, so ill be bookmarking this page & coming back to it for tips!

    Thanks for this :)

    Reply
  • Michelle @ Living Learning Earning February 1, 2011, 10:25 am

    This is such great timing! I’m currently looking for my first half marathon to register for, and I know these tips will come in handy. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Theresa @ActiveEggplant February 1, 2011, 10:25 am

    SO glad you made a separate section for walking. I’ve done 8 half marathons and 1 marathon so far & have run/walked each of them. I’ve gotten faster & have had fewer injuries/pains than when I was focusing on running only (some I’ve done with regular run/walk intervals, some with walk long breaks only at water stops). I’m currently transitioning over to running only and hope to run my first “full running half marathon” in May. I definitely think walking is super beneficial for people that are new to the sport of running – or for people that are increasing to longer distances for the first time.

    Reply
  • Jess (Daly Authenticity) February 1, 2011, 10:28 am

    Caitlyn, I needed this post so badly this morning. (I was one of the ones that asked you for a post like this :) ) I am on the mend from a torn hip muscle, and I am crossing my fingers that I can run my first half on May 15 in DC. I did my first run since being back from the injury this morning and I felt GREAT. I am SO excited to start training! Thanks for this! I will use the tips!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:18 am

      I hope your hip feels better soon!

      Reply
  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape February 1, 2011, 10:30 am

    This post could not have been better timed for me!! I’m not running a half-marathon anytime soon, but I am starting to get interested in race, etc. I just started the Couch to 5k today!

    Reply
  • Krista @ Journey to a Healthy Berg February 1, 2011, 10:33 am

    Great advice Caitlin. I’m running my first 10K in May and I’m really nervous! I’ve only ever run 5Ks. I love your comment about walking because I did better in a race that I ran/walked in than one that I jogged the whole thing!

    Reply
  • Natalie @ Will Jog For Food February 1, 2011, 10:34 am

    Great Post! So far I did a 5k, running the whole time which I couldn’t even believe I did. I was training for a half, but switched to that 5k because my group of friends all switched. Now I kind of regret not doing the half, but you live and learn! When I was training for the half, I was running/walking 3:30/1 which was perfect for me! I was running pretty fast and really looked forward to those 1 minute walk breaks. I want to sign up for a half soon…but I may be moving across the country in a couple months. BUT I’m definitely doing the Disney Half next year!

    Reply
  • SaraRM February 1, 2011, 10:36 am

    This is a great post. I am very glad that you made the statement that the half isnt half of anything. I feel like running races has become such a fad lately and people arent truely taking it serious. Ive known several ppl who decided to run a full bc all their other friends were doing it and had no clue what they were doing and ended up injured. I thought i would build up to a marathon but the more halves I run the less I want to do a full. I LOVE the half distance and think 26.2 would be too hard on my body. I could do yes, but would not enjoy it like 13.1.

    My advice is to do your homework and enjoy the entire experience. My first half was an amazing experience and would not trade it in for the world! Good luck to any first timers out there.

    Reply
  • Camille February 1, 2011, 10:36 am

    I have done 2 marathons and countless other races, but I am doing my first half next month. I am so excited because it really seems like a distance where I can push myself at full speed and now have to worry about burning out!

    Reply
  • Sarah February 1, 2011, 10:39 am

    I think it’s important to know that you can get out there and run (even race!) when you’re “not a runner”.

    Reply
  • Jennie February 1, 2011, 10:39 am

    I’m in the middle of the couch to 5K right now, which is the beginning of training for a 10K the middle of May. I’ve done 5 & 6K fun runs/walks before, but never an actual race.
    It started as a way to get in shape and lose weight for my upcoming wedding (!) but a friend and I have decided to do the Disney Princess Half next year!! I’m from Saskatchewan (hello -41 windchill!), so it’s a long way, but who wouldn’t want to do their first half dressed as a princes!?!

    Reply
  • Marci February 1, 2011, 10:46 am

    I just ran my first half in December in Dallas. I liked that it was a giant race, cool weather, and my hometown. I would suggest using a training plan but allowing flexibility. They don’t know your body so don’t be hard on yourself if you alter it.

    Reply
  • Jamie February 1, 2011, 10:48 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I am run/walking my first half on Sunday (eeekk!) I’ve been a bit nervous about the fact that I’ve incorporated walking into my training plan, but after reading your thoughts on walking, I am pumped and ready to go!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:19 am

      Good luck on your half!!

      Reply
  • Katy (The Singing Runner) February 1, 2011, 10:50 am

    I recently ran my first half on January 8th at Disney (1:56:20). I did a 13 week training plan and I had 2 weeks of injury. I definitely learned a LOT from that training (like listening to your body!) and I am now training for my second half marathon (and 15K and 5K) at the end of this month (Gasparilla!) I also have a third half in Clearwater (IronGirl) in April.

    All this is preparation for Chicago 2011, which I signed up for last night! Can’t wait for my first full marathon! :D

    Reply
  • Casey February 1, 2011, 10:50 am

    Thanks for this post! I’ve never done a half and I’m just starting to train for the Run to Remember in Boston this Spring :) :) :)

    I’ve been running short distances, never more than a 5k, for a while now. One of the biggest things that kept me from pushing myself further was that I was constantly comparing myself to other runners and never thought I could be as good. My roommate has run the Boston Marathon 4 times and finished in 2:40:00 last year! My boyfriend also runs half marathons and usually finishes in the 1:40:00 race time range. Because of this, I have always been very intimidated to put myself out there. I always looked running 10 minute miles as being a failure and walking was cheating. I felt like no matter how much I trained, I would never be as good as them so there really was no point.

    About a year ago I started reading your blog and it has totally changed my mind about running. I now wake up every morning excited to run at my own pace and my training is coming along great :) See you in boston in may! wooooooo!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:19 am

      Yay!

      I’m running the Run to Remember tooo!!!

      Reply
  • Jeni @ stepping out February 1, 2011, 10:53 am

    I ran my first half marathon back in October. I followed the Hal Higdon plan and definitely decided to change things up for my second one on Feb 12. My longest run before Spinx was 10.4 and I knew almost when I had reached that point during the Spinx 1/2 because it was like jogging through molasses.
    I pushed through and managed a sub 2 (1:59:56) for my first half!
    I’m not sure how the Hilton Head half will go because various things have gotten in the way of my training but I’ve tried to be consistent.
    Thanks for the awesome post!

    Reply
  • Charlie February 1, 2011, 11:03 am

    Great tips! I want to run my first race this year :). I started running outside in January but after 10-15 minutes I didn’t see anything (glasses fogging up) so I am waiting until it warms up a little (or until I buy contact lenses…).

    Reply
  • Heather February 1, 2011, 11:05 am

    Thanks for the post Caitlin! I’ve never really been a runner, but I’ve started training the past several weeks for the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Half Marathon in Columbus, OH. The race isn’t until October, but I’m already excited! I’m learning to enjoy running and not viewing it as a chore. It is nice to have a goal and a plan in place!

    Reply
  • Anna @ Doing Good & Living Well February 1, 2011, 11:06 am

    Hooray! Thank you for this! I’ve got my sites set on the VA Beach Rock N Roll Half in September. This just made me even more excited about running the race!!

    Reply
  • Dorry February 1, 2011, 11:07 am

    Great info here! I ran my 1st half last December and I’m training to run my 2nd in March. I learned to trust my training plan and it helped keep me injury-free and ready for race day. I also learned a lot about eating for fuel and recovery, something I’m focusing on more this time around. My tips for a 1st time racer would be to have fun and take in the race environment and don’t underestimate the power of the spectators and race energy that will push you through the tough parts.

    Reply
  • Kelly February 1, 2011, 11:08 am

    I ran my first half in November and lovedddd it. I’m basically using the same training plan I used for that for my 10 mile race in April.

    Reply
  • Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl February 1, 2011, 11:11 am

    I’m with you on not being ashamed of walking! I love having one race that is the same every year – it gives me something to look forward to and I love becoming familiar with the course!

    Reply
  • Sarah for Real February 1, 2011, 11:11 am

    Great post! I’m training for a 12k but it’s in May so if I don’t die, I might consider a half marathon in the early summer or fall. I don’t want to lessen the importance (longest distance for me!) and excitement of Bloomsday by signing up for a Half right away though, so I’m waiting.

    Reply
  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) February 1, 2011, 11:11 am

    I screamed when I saw this headline! I’m training for my first half coming up in March, and this is a post I will be coming back to over the next four weeks.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:07 pm

      You’re going to do sooo great, Carly.

      Reply
  • Kristen February 1, 2011, 11:11 am

    This is a perfect post for me – I’ll be running my first 1/2 in May and just started training at the beginning of January. The race is in Oklahoma City, about 3 hours from me, and I’m running it with one of my best friends (who will also be doing it for the first time). I’m doing Hal Higdon, as well, and a little worried about the miles after 10… but I guess I’m going to have to wait and see how training is going when I get to that point. I ran my first 10K with only training up to 4 miles, however, that’s clearly a very different story! Taking my training for the 1/2 MUCH more seriously. So excited to push myself and achieve this goal!

    Reply
  • Jake February 1, 2011, 11:16 am

    Nice post! I just started week 2 of couch25k..Have my first 5k at the end of April..

    Reply
  • Jaclyn February 1, 2011, 11:17 am

    I love this post – such perfect timing! I am training for the Virginia Wine Country 1/2 Marathon in June and that will be my first half. I’m doing Hal Higdon’s plan and modifying it to include probably an 11 and 12 mile run at least, if not longer, before the race. As much as I trust Hal, I’m not sure if I will feel ready standing at the start line knowing that there would be a 5K between my longest run to date and the finish line!

    Reply
    • Allison February 1, 2011, 1:37 pm

      Jaclyn – I’m looking to run my first half this May/June in the Loudoun area as well! i’m trying to figure out whether I want to do the (alleged) Loudoun County half in May or the Wine country half. My big worry about the Wine Country one is that Juen will be so hot! What made you decide on that one?

      Reply
      • Jaclyn February 1, 2011, 2:55 pm

        It was kind of a spur of the moment decision, to be honest. I was planning to go for my first half in the fall sometime, but I just happened across the posting for the VA Wine Country Half on active.com and I was signed up before I even realized it! It may have something to do with the fact that the course begins at my favorite VA winery and ends at my second favorite VA winery – I spend a lot of time out there and I have opinions! I’m a little worried about the heat too, to be honest, and I don’t believe the course will have much shade. But with preparation and proper hydration and sunscreen I think I will be okay. I think it’s just an extra variable to take into account and as long as you are smart about it, you should be fine. I’ve raced in everything from heat (4th of July in northern VA.. hotttttt) to freezing rain (Buffalo-Niagara turkey trot). I think weather conditions make a huge difference but they shouldn’t stop anyone from racing, as long as we are smart about gear, hydration and pace.

        Reply
  • Tracy February 1, 2011, 11:18 am

    I am currently training for my first half marathon in Virginia Beach on March 20th. While I have been running for years, never have I been on a training plan like the one I am on now. At the beginning it was hard to stick to it, but I followed suit week by week. Here I am 7 weeks away and I feel great and have improved so much as a runner.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:21 am

      Have fun at the half! I’ve heard its a good one.

      Reply
  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat February 1, 2011, 11:28 am

    I definitely prefer the half distance now over the full because it’s easier to gear up for (physically and psychologically!) and the recovery time is shorter. My advice is to make sure you’ve got the right gear to run in (because you don’t want to worry about anything but running during the race!) and to enjoy it! :)

    Reply
  • Ashley February 1, 2011, 11:31 am

    Hi Caitlin,
    This post seems like the appropriate time to tell you that I think I’m becoming a runner, and it’s all your fault! I have always vehemently hated running, had no interest, no thanks, not for me. Asking me to go for a run would have been more ridiculous than asking me cut off my own arm. I have made some significant healthy changes over the past year regarding my eating and activity-level, and I was totally content with other forms of exercise. Then you posted about the Rugged Maniac. The second I saw all that mud, those people climbing, jumping, splashing, challenging themselves and having so much fun – I knew I was doomed! I could not stop thinking about it and how much fun it would be (a socially appropriate reason to play in the mud!). So I recruited two of my friends to form a team with me, and signed up for the Rugged Maniac in September (in MA). I started the Couch 2 5k last week, and I must say that running is much more bearable now that I am a non-smoker (6 mo. and counting) and have this event to work toward. Even though I’m a total beginner, I can already tell that this will likely be the first of many races I participate in. You are working miracles Caitlin, when I become one of those obsessed runners I will remember that I have you to blame! ;)

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:39 am

      Heheh I hope you have fun at RM!!! We are going to have a blast, I wish we were doing the same race.

      Reply
  • Tina February 1, 2011, 11:34 am

    This is a great post! I will definitely refer back to this when the time comes!

    Reply
  • Caitlin @ TPL February 1, 2011, 11:34 am

    Thanks so much, this is all great advice! I’m running my first half in May and hopefully using it as a midpoint for my first full in October (either Chicago or Columbus)!
    Have a great day!

    Reply
  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) February 1, 2011, 11:36 am

    As someone who’s done 17 halfs and 7 fulls, I agree that halfs are more fun. But I do disagree w/one thing… halfs ARE a half of something… they are half of a FULL. They are completely different races (think 10K vs. half or 10K vs. 5K) that require very different strategies.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 11:40 am

      By saying a half isn’t half of anything, I mean it’s a challenge in it’s itself and worthy of respect, so I completely agree with you!

      Reply
  • Laura @ Starting Out Fit February 1, 2011, 11:40 am

    This post came at the perfect time for me! :) I started running via the C25K program this time last year. I am now getting organized to start a 12week training program all gearing up towards my first Half Marathon on May 22! I can’t wait!

    Reply
  • Sarah (Sarah Learns) February 1, 2011, 11:50 am

    thanks for the great advice as always, caitlin! i’ve been run/walking on the treadmill for a while, but i think it’s about time i sign up for a race and follow a training plan! :)

    Reply
  • julie (etsy stalkers) February 1, 2011, 11:50 am

    I ran my first (and only) half a couple of years ago. It was seriously one of the best days of my life. I’ve been on a running hiatus due to time limits (work, two young kids, and once in a while i enjoy sleeping). But I miss it and can’t wait to do another one.

    Reply
  • megan @ blackberries for jam February 1, 2011, 11:53 am

    I LOVE the half marathon distance. I ran my first half last fall and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m thinking of running a full marathon in May (the Vermont City Marathon), so I’ve maintained my half base and I may like running 13.1 miles just for kicks even better than an actual race. My neighbors probably think of me as “that crazy runner girl.”

    Reply
    • Emily February 1, 2011, 11:55 am

      DO IT! Vermont City Marathon is the BEST marathon ever. And I promise I don’t work for them…

      Reply
  • Emily February 1, 2011, 11:54 am

    finding someone else to train and race with you. my mom ran my first marathon with me and it made it so much more fun and special to share the experience with her.

    Reply
  • Amanda (Eating Up) February 1, 2011, 11:59 am

    I really want to run my first half this fall! I can’t wait to start training.

    Reply
  • Carrie (Moves 'N Munchies) February 1, 2011, 12:01 pm

    THANK YOU!! i want to run a half in october.. i know its a long way away, but i need to get in shape since im injured right now… so i have time!

    Reply
  • Kacy February 1, 2011, 12:01 pm

    I’m currently training for my 3rd half. It really is such a fun distance to train for. I love it!

    Reply
  • Brianna O. February 1, 2011, 12:03 pm

    I ran my fist half last December and now I’m training for a June marathon.

    My suggestion is to find a training plan and stick with it. I used one from Nike. Also, find a group to do your long runs with. It’s harder to stop when you have a pack of people to keep up with!

    Reply
  • Stephanie @ The Travelling Tastebuds February 1, 2011, 12:09 pm

    Oh my gosh… thank you for this post! I am participating in my first marathon this year and I was searching around for some tips and advice. Thanks you!

    Reply
  • Sara February 1, 2011, 12:12 pm

    Great tips! Train with a friend is my favorite/biggest. You just can’t get that kind of motivation ANYWHERE else!!
    xoxo
    s

    Reply
  • Marisa E February 1, 2011, 12:18 pm

    I emailed you right after Christmas asking your advice about starting to run. My goal is to run a 10 mile race in Philadelphia called the Broad Street Run. I started a couch to 10K program- an app that I downloaded to my ipod and love- and although I have been dealing with shin/calf pain things are going great. I have signed up for two 5K’s and will sign up for an 11K in Atlantic City before the big 10 miler in May. If I can get through that then I will go for a half in the fall. Reading your blog and the encouragement from my husband is really getting me through this. I still have a long way to go but I know I can accomplish this. So- thank you.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:08 pm

      Thank YOU!

      Reply
  • Teacherwoman February 1, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Amanda-The Nutritionist Reviews February 1, 2011, 12:25 pm

    Great post! Very encouraging. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Annie@stronghealthyfit February 1, 2011, 12:25 pm

    I ran my first half in November and my advice would be to go for it! It’s totally an attainable distance for a lot of moderate-level runners. I love that distance!

    Reply
  • nicole February 1, 2011, 12:27 pm

    I ran my second half two weeks ago in 1:43:40, which is great for me and a major PR! I’ve been running consistently for a little over a year now, so I’m not a newbie nor a seasoned vet. I would advise new runners to
    1. Research and sign up for a race! It’ll serve as major motivation and print and hang the confirmation somewhere visible.
    2. Find a training plan that suits you and follow it to the best of you abilities. Try to have at least 2 days of cross training because it’ll help your fitness and you won’t get burned out on running.
    3. Reward yourself along the way with new gear or by purchasing new songs for playlists.
    4. Have fun! You should be challenging yourself physically and maybe mentally, but you should also enjoy it most of the time. If you get injured or feel something is wrong it’s ok to take a few days off (or more if you need). It’s also ok to walk! I think that when training for your first race of any distance it’s most important to complete the distance first, and the second time around you can have a focused timed goal.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:09 pm

      Great tips, thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  • Ashley @ Thefitacademic February 1, 2011, 12:36 pm

    I love this advice post!Is there really a “racing season”??? I had no idea – I’ve just kinda done races whenever I’ve felt like it : )

    Reply
  • Ashley @ Ashley's Adventures in Alaska February 1, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I’m running my first 1/2 this summer, so this post is perfectly timed! I’ve run 2 5ks in the past year and really want to step it up and do something bigger- hence the 1/2 marathon. :) I’m excited!!

    Reply
  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 1, 2011, 12:42 pm

    I ran two halves last year, and love them! They were challenging, but not so challenging that I thought I was going to die. :) Love the tips Caitlin!!

    Reply
  • Stephanie February 1, 2011, 12:44 pm

    I LOVE that you mentioned that about walking. It so easy to feel defeatest when you need to run…but sometimes that mental boost is all you need to GO!

    Reply
  • Cate February 1, 2011, 12:47 pm

    These are some great tips! I recently completed my first half marathon in January at Disney and really enjoyed it. In fact I have signed up to do the IronGirl 1/2 in Clearwater this April and I am excited!
    I think finding the right training plan is really important. I
    read and used the run/walk plan from the book Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham & Jenny Hadfield. There is TONS of great information in the book and I thought it was a great read!
    Cross training is definitely important to prevent burnout and injury.
    I defintely agree with having your longest run be a bit more
    than 10. I completed my half with that, but I plan on running at least 12 before this next half.
    And lastly rest days are important! :)

    Reply
  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) February 1, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I’ve only done one half but I loved it. It felt glorious to finish, and I could actually walk after- as opposed to finishing a full, where I limped for days!

    Reply
  • Heather February 1, 2011, 12:51 pm

    I would def say in running your first half to not put a time goal on yourself. it is too much added pressure! let your goal be to finish, and then you have an automatic PR!

    Reply
  • Heather February 1, 2011, 12:51 pm

    I would def say in running your first half to not put a time goal on yourself. it is too much added pressure! let your goal be to finish, and then you have an automatic PR!

    Reply
  • Heather February 1, 2011, 12:51 pm

    I would def say in running your first half to not put a time goal on yourself. it is too much added pressure! let your goal be to finish, and then you have an automatic PR!

    Reply
  • Alison February 1, 2011, 1:06 pm

    I’m running the National Half Marathon in March. It’s my first half, but I did things backwards and ran a full marathon (Disney) a few weeks ago. I don’t really have a training plan for the half; I’m just going to do my usual monday and wednesday runs and throw a few long runs in on fridays. With the weather being cold, icy, snowy (I live in northern virginia) and the possiblity of my daughter’s school being canceled for said weather, my training is at the mercy of mother nature.

    I’m running with my sister and we’re just going to have a good time.

    Reply
    • Allison February 1, 2011, 1:54 pm

      I’m in NOVA too and I know exactly how you feel! I’m so sick of this snow/ice. long runs on the treadmill take all the fun out of a long run!

      Reply
  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun February 1, 2011, 1:07 pm

    thank you so much for this post. I’m really considering doing a half at the end of the year as a fitness goal for post baby…especially since I know I dont want to do another fitness comp.

    Reply
  • Lindsay February 1, 2011, 1:08 pm

    Ah I e-mailed you yesterday about this. I have 21 weeks until my half marathon in Connecticut (I live in New York though) and I am very excited. I can’t wait to e-mail you after the race and let you know how it went! For me the idea of run/walk helps the goal of 13.1 miles seem more attainable. I feel that I’ve been walking most of my life.. if the running gets so hard then I can walk a bit and ease up.

    Reply
  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans February 1, 2011, 1:12 pm

    Great tips! I want to run a marathon early next year but I think 13.1 will always be the distance for me!!

    Reply
  • sarah February 1, 2011, 1:19 pm

    Another tip- experiment with fueling during long runs….You can try different gels (about one each 50 minutes of running), cut up granola bars, pretzels, etc.

    Reply
  • Lindsey February 1, 2011, 1:20 pm

    These are really great tips! Your blog was one of the ones to motivate me to start running two years ago in the first place, so thank you for that!!

    Reply
  • Lisa February 1, 2011, 1:21 pm

    I like the “pros” of the half as opposed to a full. My goal was to run a half this year but my rehabbing from the ITB injury is very slow. :(

    Reply
  • Lauren February 1, 2011, 1:28 pm

    I’m beginning training for my first half in 2 weeks! It’s the Cherry Blossom Half Marathon in RI. I was going to start the Hal Higdon beginner plan on the 20th, but with your advice I’m going to add an extra week to run a bit further than 10 miles. I’m thinking about the Rock and Roll half in August, but the idea of a half in August is a bit scary to me. It gets hot here!

    Reply
  • lisa February 1, 2011, 1:52 pm

    I am planning on signing up for my first half this May (Boston’s Run to Remember)..but it says there is a new time restriction: that at any runner not at the 2 mile mark in 28 minutes will be diverted to the 5k course…I am not worried about doing my first two miles in that time..but does that mean you have to maintain a faster than 14-min-mile pace for the entire thing??

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:13 pm

      I’m running that race too!

      I checked out the website but I couldn’t tell if they are requiring 14-minutes per mile the entire way or not. You should email them!

      Reply
      • lisa February 1, 2011, 7:47 pm

        I emailed, here is the response:

        “if you can maintain a 14 minute mile – you would be fine. This 2 mile mark is a compromise with the city – if it goes well this year – there might be more flexibility next year. Their main goal is to discourage walkers. so they have stated they are fine with 14 minute mile”

        I usually run a 10-ish minute mile, so I am guessing I should be OK even if I have to slow it down for a few miles!

        I guess I’ll see ya at the race then ;) haha

        Reply
        • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 8:43 pm

          Yay!!!

          Reply
  • Kami February 1, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I’m training for the Publix Half Marathon in Atlanta; it’ll be my first. I built a training program using Smartcoach on Runners World and I love it because it’s customized to my fitness level. I totally agree that cross training is an integral part of training. PS, Maggie is beyond adorable.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:13 pm

      Maggie says thank you!

      Reply
  • Michelle @ the cooking life February 1, 2011, 1:56 pm

    I remember training for my first half marathon several years ago and a friend of mine said, are you sure you can do that? I was slightly offended, because I thought, who is she to tell me what my limits are? I alone know how far to push myself. Anyways, I trained for it using the Galloway method (run 4 min/walk 1 min), doing a total of 9 miles for my longest run. I undertrained and ended up hurting my right knee in the process, but I finished it! Last year, I did my second half marathon, this time with a friend who’d never done one and we did the run/walk method again (run 5 min/walk 1 min). I ended up finishing the same time as my first half (2 hrs 45 min) because we had to walk quite a bit for my friend whose asthma acted up. Nevertheless we both finished! And now, I’ve been training solidly since June for my 3rd half marathon, with a running class in town, and I’ve been able to run over 11 miles without stopping. I’m really proud of myself but I know that there is no shame in walking. I’m just glad that I could push myself with running, as I didn’t think it was possible before. Granted I’m still nowhere near as fast as you, Caitlin :) But for new runners, I recommend running 3-4 times a week, with a rest day in between, and just doing 1 long run a week. Also, strength train (I do kettlebells) throughout the week. And most importantly, know your body well and listen to it! :) Good luck, everyone!

    Reply
  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss February 1, 2011, 2:01 pm

    This is great. I want to run a marathon sometime this year but have been training for a half since I know the marathon won’t be for a while. Even though the only half in a relatively close time is Feb 12th and I won’t be able to make it, training as if I am going to run has really helped out. Thanks for this. :)

    Reply
  • emily February 1, 2011, 2:02 pm

    Yay, I’m about to sign up for my 2nd half and this is all so helpful! I didn’t train for my 1st one so it’s basically all new :)

    Reply
  • Nancy K @ NancysPerfect10 February 1, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Love, love, love this! I am running my first grown up 5k in March. I say grown up because I was a running buddy for the GOTR 5k in December and it made me want to do one for me :)

    Reply
  • Jazz February 1, 2011, 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m starting my training for a half and just discovered how much of a difference gatorade makes around mile 9! … I don’t know why it took me this long to realize I need more than water…

    Reply
  • Natalia - a side of simple February 1, 2011, 2:12 pm

    I think you just convinced me to start searching for my first half-marathon to run… :)

    Reply
  • Zulkey February 1, 2011, 2:13 pm

    I’m doing my first half this summer (I did a 10 mile last summer). I really like the Hal Higdon routines and my long-term plan has been to train for a 10K two times, then a 10 mile and then eventually the half-marathon. I was worried about backsliding to shorter distances after I completed the races but I’ve been finding so far that after training for and running the first 10K, I feel comfortable with increasing my pace now, so I’m happy to say I’m below a 10 minute mile right now (which is the speed of light as far as I’m concerned!)

    Reply
  • Tania (RunToRadiance) February 1, 2011, 2:21 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! This is a really timely blog post for me since I will be starting my training for my first half marathon as soon as the slushy ice storm melts. Sadly that will be almost 4 days from now boo. :(

    Reply
  • Emily February 1, 2011, 2:26 pm

    So…what is a good number of total miles for a beginning to run during training? Assuming one is doing a 12-week plan?

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:15 pm

      I would say you want to be at least doing a 5K and running a total of 12 miles or so a week before you begin training!

      Reply
  • Jamie February 1, 2011, 2:32 pm

    I really like that you included walk/run in your post. I recently ran my first half (Disney) and used this method. I ran with 4 friends and they told me I was “cheating” by walking and that they would run the entire way. Not only did I beat ALL of them, but I finished 32 minutes faster than my predicted time based on training runs!

    I also logged negative splits for each 5k mark. My friends got progressively slower but I got speedier. At mile 12 I felt like I had left everything on the course but was still able to sprint the last mile. Unfortunately I did get a stress fracture that’s been plaguing me the last 3 weeks but I think that’s more due to racing in worn out shoes :(

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:15 pm

      hahahah i love that you beat your friends. You rule.

      Reply
  • Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! February 1, 2011, 2:46 pm

    These are all GREAT tips and pieces of advice. I’m about to run my second half marathon on Sunday, and I have some other suggestions:

    –don’t start out too fast! This really hurt me in my first half marathon. Like others have said, aim for negative splits. I recommend starting out 10-15 seconds SLOWER than your goal race pace for the first few miles. If you’re feeling good around the halfway point, you can definitely pick it up from there.
    –practice an eating and drinking plan ahead of time! On your long training runs, figure out what works best for you. Do you prefer Gu, Shot Blocks, Sports Beans, etc.? I use a hydration belt and I eat a Gu between miles 7 and 8. Figure out what works best for you!

    Good luck to all the runners, walkers, racers out there!

    Reply
  • Susan February 1, 2011, 2:50 pm

    I ran my first half in January, plan on a second in September, plus a 5K in about a month and 10 miles the month after. I’m going to train for the September 1/2 with Team in Training, so I can get company for the race as well as raising money for a good cause.

    I started to train with the Galloway method, but ended up training to do straight running. For my first half I ran the first 7 miles straight, and then ran/walked the last half. But even that mental boost of running the first 7 miles has given me incredible confidence, and I know that my current training for my 10 mile run is so much better!

    Training schedules are awesome. I had a couple weeks between my half and starting training for the 10 mile run, and I was completely lost with nothing telling me what to do! =)

    And I guess I’m a freak, but I love being outside in the cold. I ran 6 miles this past Saturday in Boston, and although it was cold, I was so happy to be away from the treadmill. Only downside was the sloshing of water into my shoes.

    Reply
  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition February 1, 2011, 3:00 pm

    I ran my fist half last october. it was an incredible experience. I used Hal’s plan as well, but I pushed my final long run to 11 miles. I think knowing I had already run that distance gave me an edge come race day. I noticed people starting to walk all around me around mile 10, but since I had already finished that distance, I was able to keep going.

    So, in an effort to not be long winded, I agree with your advice to train to a higher mileage.

    Reply
  • Kim February 1, 2011, 3:07 pm

    This is a great post! I am thinking about a half in October. I’m new to running but totally inspired by your blog! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Meg February 1, 2011, 3:21 pm

    A question for you, Caitlin…I always love that you say it’s okay to walk. Sometimes I think you just HAVE to. However, I’ve noticed that when I go from run to walk mid-run, I often end up feeling almost immediately nauseated, so I try not to start walking. Does this ever happen to you or anyone else? I know my husband says he feels the say thing. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 3:40 pm

      I have never experienced this, but it’s interesting… I wonder if your tummy is being jostled or its a blood pressure thing.

      Reply
  • Shannon February 1, 2011, 3:22 pm

    This is such a great post! I ran my first half almost two weeks ago (yes, in JANUARY in NEW YORK CITY – what was I thinking?!). It was the most difficult race I’ve ever done, and not just because it was the longest to date. The course consisted of two extremely hilly laps through Central Park, and even though that’s where I had trained, race day kicked my butt. It also “felt like” 4 degrees – picking up cups of ice instead of water was no fun. I ended up walking a lot more than I wanted (and I usually always walk at least a little bit, walking definitely does rule), but hitting that finish line was amazing.

    I ended up taking a week or so off running because I was experiencing some pain on the outside of my knee, but tonight marks my first run as I jump back into training for the National Half. Now that I’ve completed the distance once, I think my second half will be much better. Plus it will be flatter and warmer!

    Reply
  • Ashley February 1, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Great advice! I don’t think I’m pushing myself hard enough. I’ve been running for almost a year but I still can’t push myself past a mile or two.

    Reply
  • Leila @ spinach and skittles February 1, 2011, 3:50 pm

    Perfect post for me this week. I just started training to fun my first race ever (a 12k). I just wish it was light in the morning…treadmill running is a must at 5:45 in the morning :(

    Reply
  • Allison February 1, 2011, 3:54 pm

    I’m currently using Hal Higdon’s training schedule for my half on 2/27 (Disney Princess). This morning when I realized it was February 1st I said to my coworkers “It’s race month!” I’m so excited! My mom (who’s 60) is doing it with me..she walks super fast and I run pretty slow so it should work out!

    Thanks for all of your wisdom! It is very timely!

    Reply
  • Kayla February 1, 2011, 4:24 pm

    Thanks for this post! One of my goals this year is to run a half marathon. I can’t wait to get back to training after I recover from my knee injury:)

    Reply
  • Allison @ Happy Tales February 1, 2011, 5:38 pm

    I was nodding my head through this whole entire post. You are spot on, Caitlin! (at least, in my opinion!)

    I’m so glad you talked about walking. I am a HUGE advocate of walking… have PRed twice by doing this in my half marathon times! I PRed in my third half marathon by 12 minutes utilzing walking, and in my fourth half marathon, I knocked off yet another 6 minutes! And these races were just a month apart from eachother! So yes, walking for sure can give you the mental/physical break needed to make ya faster…

    Love all of your cross training tips, too!

    Reply
  • Laurel February 1, 2011, 5:43 pm

    This post came at the perfect time for me. Thanks! I’m running my first half on May 15th and can’t wait. Hal’s novice plan is perfect for me and I can add a couple weeks to get closer to 11 or 12 miles. :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 1, 2011, 5:45 pm

      Good luck on your upcoming race!

      Reply
  • ashley@quasichick February 1, 2011, 6:13 pm

    I love this post! Adding it to my favorites! You are inspiring!

    Reply
  • Lee February 1, 2011, 6:15 pm

    Great advice! I actually wrote a guest post on this topic here – http://afoodiestaysfit.com/2010/12/top-10-tips-for-your-first-half-marathon/

    Reply
  • Samantha @ Mama Notes February 1, 2011, 6:57 pm

    I am SO GLAD you are encouraging/promoting walking with running. WHy do people think it’s bad?! I’ve heard so many people say’/think you must run the whole time.. no way! Walking is totally fine and it still means you are a runner! :)

    Thanks for spreading this good message. :)

    Reply
  • Raya February 1, 2011, 7:23 pm

    I am definitely a promoter of the run/walk combo too. I can’t wait to run another half! But right now, my goals are speed-related. Story of my life!

    Reply
  • Kristin February 1, 2011, 7:27 pm

    Hi I’m training for my first 25k and then shortly after a marathon and i’ve always had difficulty fueling before, while and after working out. If i eat any sooner than 2 hours before i get massive sideaches. So fueling during is way out of the question. I also have the embarrassing problem of getting massive upset stomach while running any further than 8 miles….lets just say there has to be a bathroom close by lol sorry tmi. Anyways do you have any advice for fueling or anything that’ll work to control the upset stomach factor of running long miles? Thanks I appreciate any help:)

    Reply
  • Michelle February 1, 2011, 7:49 pm

    I ran my first half in October of ’09 and had no idea what an IT Band was… but I sure did when I finished. I thought the pain that I had on the outside of my right knee after my long runs was just regular training pain and threw a bag of frozen peas on it. At the end of the race, I couldn’t even walk, and the next day I couldn’t bend my leg at all. I know that I trained improperly, and I didn’t pay enough attention to what my body was telling me. If you’re training for your first big race (or any race), LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and educate yourself about common injuries/issues to runners!

    Reply
  • maria @ Chasing the Now February 1, 2011, 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I am hoping to run a half this year if body cooperates. I would love to run a full sometime, but I’ve found I’m pretty injury prone and I’m not sure if that will ever work out for me or not. A half seems obtainable and if I enjoy that I will build from there.

    Reply
  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good February 1, 2011, 10:18 pm

    I am training for my first half-marathon this spring and am excited! :) My Jeff Galloway training schedule does have me running 14 miles during training. The Galloway approach is so different from how I’ve gone at in the past, and I plan to post updates on my blog (one such update thus far). My hope is that his conservative approach will allow me to complete a half marathon injury-free.

    Reply
  • Jessica February 1, 2011, 10:50 pm

    I’m currently training for my first half marathon, this post just makes me more excited! My longest run so far has been 9 miles, and I’m debating whether I want to start training with walk breaks as I increase my mileage. My only issue with it is that after I stop to walk, when I start to run again, my legs feel heavy and I find it’s difficult to pick up the pace again. Any advice for dealing with heavy legs?

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 2, 2011, 10:34 am

      Check out the cures for sluggish runs post that I linked to at the end of this post – it should help!

      Reply
  • Keren February 2, 2011, 12:31 am

    thank you for this!!! I signed up for my FIRST 1/2 last night! It is the Breast cancer 1/2 in November. The farthest i have run is a 5k, i am excited to challenge myself though!!!

    Question– What kind of running watch do you use? Also, how do you not get sick of the music you listen to? I feel after a couple weeks i get tired of my playlists!!!

    Reply
  • kristin February 2, 2011, 9:38 am

    this is awesome because i JUST signed up for my first half :)

    Reply
  • Melissa February 2, 2011, 2:59 pm

    I completed my first half in November (San Antonio Rock & ROll 1/2). I was amazed at how well organized the race was and how much the cheering crowds can motivate you to keep going. I am by no means a runner and had only ever competed in a 10K prior to this but with adrenaline and the crowds support I finished in 2:23. Your post has definitely pushed me to consider what my next race will be. I proudly display my 13.1 sticker on my car and hope to keep getting stronger!
    :)

    Reply
  • Kristie February 3, 2011, 1:29 pm

    This is THE exact post I needed at the EXACT right time. I’m doing my first half in 3 weeks and I really need to get over the mental block that walking is “bad” during a race. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Joy February 4, 2011, 9:01 am

    I am really looking forward to the half relay I am doing in march! I feel like running with others will be fun, I think I will try the run walk to up my speed

    Reply
  • Kelly March 21, 2011, 9:02 pm

    I’m so glad to hear you set a PR by walking. I’m scared but doing my first half in the fall!

    Reply
  • kim April 10, 2011, 12:23 am

    im getting ready for my first marathon (ever!) this summer and super excited..thanks for all the great posts..given me some great ideas and tips…

    Reply