Training for and completing a half marathon is an incredibly rewarding and surprisingly attainable goal for everyone from the most novice of runners to jogging veterans looking to push the limits of distance and commitment a bit further. Although many popular half marathon training programsare widely available, there is nothing quite like the valuable advice of someone who has completed a half marathon and can help you avoid making the same mistakes that they encountered along the way. Follow my advice to avoid making the same six mistakes I did and be better prepared for your first half marathon.
Not Slowing Down Enough
Although it is definitely understandable to be excited about your upcoming half marathon, it is also incredibly important to remember to slow down, especially on those weekly long runs. Aside from helping you avoid a dreadful injury that can set back your training or cause you to drop out of your target race, running at a slow, conversational pace will help you locate your proper training pace for the “easy” miles required in half marathon training. Remember, the goal of your first half marathon is to simply cross the finish line.
Not Entering a Practice Race
The first half marathon I ever completed was also my first road race. Running through the streets of a major city with over 13,000 other runners was somewhat overwhelming, to say the least. Consider the size of the half marathon you plan on running and seek out a shorter race of the same size to run as a “practice race.” This early race can also serve as a valuable training run and help gauge where your goal time for that upcoming half marathon.
Too Many Afternoon and Evening Runs
Not being much of a morning person, the vast majority of my training runs for my first half marathon were down in the late afternoon or evening when the temperature had lowered from the midday heat. Considering the starting time for my half marathon was at 7:00 AM, I was disoriented and slightly under prepared for the gun to go off. While the adrenaline of a big race can give you a race day boost, try to match your last few long training runs with the start time of your half marathon to get your biological clock in sync with the routine of the big day.
Not Enough Hills
Regardless of the terrain of your half marathon course, be sure to hammer out some hilly training runs or do some hill repeats. Practicing on hills will boost your strength and confidence when conquering inclines and declines during the race. “Picking off” other runners while running uphills will also give you a great mental boost.
The Art of Drinking and Running
Be sure to practice drinking water out of small paper cups while running during some of your training runs. This seemingly simple art form is a lot more difficult than the elite runners on television make it look. You should also scout out your particular race to see what kind of sports drinks will be on hand during the race to see how your body reacts to them during a training run.
The Importance of Proper Footwear
Before you even begin training for a half marathon, be sure to visit a proper running footwear store and get fitted for proper shoes. A store employee will analyze your gait and running form to monitor exactly which kind of running shoes are best for you. The proper footwear can prevent injury and help you maximize your body’s mechanical efficiency.