(For some reason last night, I said, â€œStay tuned for a post called So You Want To Run a 5K,â€ when I really I intended it to be about a Halfâ€¦ no idea why I promised a 5K post.Â 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 confusionâ€¦ my brain is shot due to book-writing.)
Four years ago, I felt like a girl without direction.Â I started to read healthy living and running blogs at my desk at work and â€“ combined with the urging of BFF Lauren â€“ I started to think about developing a healthy hobbyâ€¦ namely, one that didnâ€™t involve going to work or heading to the bar. 😉 Specifically, I wanted to do RACES.Â Because what could be cooler?Â 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.Â I ran a 10K in Pittsburgh in the snow all by myself, and it was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with running.Â Since that day, Iâ€™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)
The Gasparilla Half in Tampa, FL: 2:03:00 (May 2009)
The OUC Half Marathon in Orlando, FL: 1:58:45 in December 2009
Because race season is nearly upon us in most parts of the country, Iâ€™ve been getting a ton of e-mails from newbie runners who are considering running a half marathon.Â I thought it would fun to share my advice â€“ but remember, Iâ€™m not a professional trainer, just a girl who loves to run, and this is just feedback based on my experiences.Â 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 â€“ 5 months.
- Half marathon training doesnâ€™t take over your entire existence the way that marathon training consumes you.
- Youâ€™re less likely to get injured training for a half than a full.
- The distance is long enough to make the race seem â€˜worth it.â€™Â Some people, even newer runners, feel like they donâ€™t hit a running groove until 5 miles or so in.Â If you were running a 5K or 10K, the race would be over.
- Most large, popular races are at least a half marathon distance.
- Itâ€™s a great physical challenge.Â A half marathon isnâ€™t half of anything!
CHOOSE YOUR RACE WISELY
- Choose your race wisely to ensure youâ€™re not setting yourself up for failure (or at least a miserable experience).
- Select a race that likely to have moderate temperatures (50 â€“ 60â€™s are great).
- Look online and try to find a less-hilly course.Â If the course is hilly, youâ€™re going to need to train on hills.
- Read race reviews on a website like RaceVine.com.Â Look for a race that is known for being organized.
- Check out the course map to see how well-staffed it will be.Â My second marathon only had 4 â€“ 5 water stops, which was definitely a negative.Â A good half should have at least 8 stops, preferably more.Â Otherwise, you will need to carry your own liquids.Â Not a huge deal, but something to consider.
- If youâ€™re traveling a long distance for the race, check out this post on Foodie Fresh for details youâ€™ll want to consider.
- Lastly, consider timing.Â 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 youâ€™re truly starting from ground zero, begin with Couch to 5K.Â 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 Runnerâ€™s World.
- Once you can run a 5K, you can graduate to other half plans.Â I really love Halâ€™s plan, which is 12 weeks.Â The only thing I personally do not like about Halâ€™s novice plan is that it maxes out at 10 miles (the race is 13.1).Â Although the aderaline will carry you through, I prefer plans that get you a little closer to the distance.Â 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, donâ€™t skip ahead).
WALK THIS WAY
- Itâ€™s okay to WALK!Â This deserves itâ€™s own section because I know people get really worked up with walking vs. running, and Iâ€™m here to tell you that itâ€™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.Â Â It can be a huge morale booster if you donâ€™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.Â I also walk/ran the last several miles of the marathon that I set a 22 minute PRâ€¦ basically, walking rules!
- Cross training is very important to prevent injuries and mental burnout.Â 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.Â 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, donâ€™t fret â€“ training plans build in room for error.Â Just start back where you left off.
- Always do your long runs!!!Â 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).Â Consider Gu shots and or a mix of Gatorade/water to provide you with the calories you need.Â 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 andÂ seek out a certified personal trainerÂ (for example, this linked-to HTP sponsor helps find local trainers).
- Tips for Runners
- Breaking Out of a Slump Part I and Part II
- Get Faster
- How I Create Training Plans
- Coping with â€œBad Runsâ€ During Training for a Race
- Buying Running Shoes
- Cures for Sluggish Runs
- Get Your Game Face On:Â What to Do the Days Leading Up to a Race
- Running in Hot Weather
- Running in the Rain
- How to Set Race Goals (and Not Drive Yourself Crazy) Part I and Part II
Are you currently training for your first half?Â Did you recently run your first half?Â What advice do you have to share with other newbies?