I received an email from a reader last week asking me for a few basic tips for running a half marathon.
It’s not an easy question to answer, especially by email because you have to choose your words carefully so that you make sense and don’t ramble.
In order to answer her question, I decided to list the first 5 things that came to my mind as advice for running a half marathon.
I actually liked what I came up with so I turned the topic into a post for today!
While I am not a running coach and don’t consider myself a running expert, I’ve run a decent amount of races and tons of miles in between so I feel that I can speak about running the half marathon from my own experience.
I hope you can use my perspective and 5 basic tips for running your next half marathon to assist you in preparing for your next race!
1. Do not start out too fast.
I think I have run 9 marathons now? It took me several half marathons to fully implement the DO NOT START OUT TOO FAST when running a race. While I do think it’s a tactic that comes with experience, I can only hope to help someone just starting out to avoid this big mistake.
Do your best to start the first two miles 10-15 seconds slower than your goal pace. Let your body adjust to running and to the energy of the race around you.
Starting out too fast often leads to burn out much sooner than you want! Trust me, you will make up the seconds in the later miles while feeling much stronger than if you jump out like a cannon at the starting line.
I also think that including warm up miles in your daily runs will help you get in the habit of not starting out too fast in a race. So, if you aren’t already incorporating warm up miles in your workouts, please consider adding them in!
2. Make sure to stop for water at the first water stop.
Even if you think you aren’t thirsty, do not skip that first water stop, especially during a warm weather race. I made this mistake once and I will never do it again!
By the time you are thirsty, it’s too late. Even if you don’t drink the full cup, grab one and get some water into your mouth.
3. Miles 10 – 13.1 are going to be hard, no matter what!
No matter how well-trained you are or how fast you run, the last 3.1 miles are hard. You are tired, your legs are fatigued and you just want to be finished.
Know this, prepare for it and accept it. Then mentally, you will push your body through it.
4. Draw from experience.
I mean a few things when I say draw from experience.
Maybe you ran a specific half marathon in the past and plan to run it again. Think about the race course as you experienced it prior – were there specific parts that were easier or more challenging? Knowing this can help you devise a mental plan of attack for race day.
For me, I know that the portion of the Long Island Half Marathon that runs on the Wantagh Parkway is tough. It’s around mile 9, I am already tired and the open stretch of road can be boring and brutal. Each year after my first race, I did my best to mentally prepare for that portion of the race by thinking about during training and preparing myself with race day tactics to get through as best as possible.
If you are planning to run a new to you race, do some research. Look up blogs that have reviewed the race before and speak to people you know who may have run the race for any pointers they can offer.
Draw from the experience of your training runs too. The clothing that feels the best is what you should wear on race day. The food that sits best in your stomach is what you need to eat before and after the race.
Being prepared definitely makes things easier!
5. Showing up and running your best race for that day is beyond good enough.
I don’t know why people are so hard on themselves. We are not machines. If you miss your PR but did the best you could on race day, what more could you really ask for?
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Any tips you wish to add that you have learned from your own race experiences?
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