Tips For Running Your First Half Marathon/ Marathon
1. Start With Your Why
Training for a long race takes a lot of time and commitment and having a "why is a good way to keep yourself motivated to train. Your why can be anything that is important to you, whether that be to finish that particular race distance or live a healthier lifestyle. If you need some help developing your own "why" check out my article here!
2. Create a Training Plan or Get Help From a Coach
You'll need to have a proper build up to run a successful and enjoyable race. You can do this a couple of ways! You could use a training plan that is online. These online plans tend to be generic and focus on mileage. These plans will definitely get you to the finish line, but may not work for those with specific time goals. You could also create your own training plan and schedule your own workouts, this would be ideal if you have run a couple races and have some race knowledge under your belt. Creating your own training plan gives you more flexibility and control over your schedule.
Finally, you could get help from a coach. Coaches help runners of all abilities achieve their running goals by personalizing training plans for each athlete and can be a source a motivation as well. If you don't know where to start with your training or are an advanced runner who wants to step up their game a coach might be right for you.
I am currently accepting athletes of all abilities and would love to help you achieve your running goals! If you're interested in working with me, check out my coaching page here.
3. Keep Track of the Mileage on Your Shoes
Running on old shoes that are long past their expiration date may discomfort while running or even cause aches and pains that shouldn't be there. Typically, running shoes last for 300 to 500 miles of wear. If your shoes are getting up there in mileage you may want to consider replacing your shoes.
4. Include a Tune Up Race
I like to have a tune up race about 6 weeks to a month out from the goal race date. For a half marathon a a 10k would be good option for a tune up race and for a full marathon I like to use a half marathon as a tune up race. A tune up race gives you an opportunity to measure your fitness before your goal race. Making sure that your goals are within reason. Tune up races can also break up the monotony of regular training and get you excited for your goal race.
5. Practice Fueling
You will need a fueling plan if you plan on taking longer than 1 and half hours to run your half marathon and you will definitely need a fueling plan for a full marathon, regardless of time. Practice your fueling plan BEFORE your goal race. Whatever your fueling plan is practice it on your long runs. Practicing your fueling plan will let your stomach get used to fueling and test out what fuels work best for you.
6. Don't Neglect Strength Training
Strength training is often overlooked by runners, but strength training can help runners in all sorts of different ways including injury prevention and build lean muscle mass. You can read more about why runners need strength training here.
7. Stretch and Foam Roll
Training can leave your muscles feeling tense and tight. This can be remedied with some stretching and foam rolling. If you find that you're having a hard time incorporating foam rolling or stretching into your routine try just do 5 or 10 minutes of stretching before bed.
8. Build Speed Then Endurance
Use the early weeks of your training to build speed with interval type workouts (e.g. 400's, 800's). This will help you feel more comfortable moving into the more race specific workouts later on into the training cycle. After you've build speed with the first couple weeks of your training, you'll want to focus on building endurance using long tempo workouts.
9. Try Your Race Kit Before the Race!
Try on everything you plan on wearing on race day before the race. Wear your race kit on a easy run to make sure everything is comfortable. Check that everything is comfortable and not too tight or too loose and check that the fabric doesn't cause any chafing. You don't want to run a long race in uncomfortable clothes.
10. Nothing New on Race Day
You've probably noticed a common trend in a couple of these tips and that is nothing new on race day! This means no new brands of fuel, no new foods the night before race day, no new clothes on shoes on race day, no new anything! For long races it is important to stick with tried and true items. New things on race day can lead to race mishaps your didn't expect (e.g. bathroom emergencies, early race blisters/chafing).
11. Prep for Race Day
You want to be as prepared for race day as possible. This means lots of different things including: knowing your race course, packing your race bag, knowing you fueling and pacing plan and much more. If you want to learn more about race prep you can check out the article I wrote here!
12. Keep Moving
Long races are kind of like a roller coaster. You'll have highs and lows during your race, you'll have periods of time where you want to just stop, but keep moving! Don't let the lows of the race overtake you, keep running and you'll be happy that you did!
13. Have Fun!
The most important thing about the race is to have fun! Enjoy all the perks of the race when you get there, enjoy the expo and the race experience. Don't get too anxious or nervous over the race. You're there because you want to be and the race is the celebration of all of the training you have done over the season. Make sure that you make your race fun!