Half Marathon Tips And Tricks: 11 Things To Know Before Running A Half Marathon For The First Time

Running a half marathon is a fantastic way to boost your physical and mental health. It is a huge achievement, but it requires plenty of training and hard work to be possible. 

Half Marathon Tips And Tricks: 11 Things To Know Before Running A Half Marathon For The First Time

Without training or dedication, running a half marathon is made even more difficult. This is especially true if it is your first time partaking in one.

Because of this, running a half marathon can feel daunting and nerve-wracking. However, it does not need to be this way!

In this article, we will tell you all of our tips and tricks to help you prepare for your half marathon, (whether it is your first time or not!)

Follow these tips to make your first half marathon run a breeze! 

What Is The Best Way To Train For A Half Marathon?

Before we can get into our eleven tips and tricks for running a half marathon, we need to cover how to train for one.

Running a half marathon is not easy, even with our tips, so you need to ensure you partake in the proper training in order for you to have a successful run. 

Preparation is key when it comes to a race. So, to prepare for your half marathon, you need a good training plan. 

You should let your running experience dictate your half marathon training plan.

For example, if you don’t run a lot and have never done a half marathon before, then we recommend you partake in a beginner trainer plan.

If you have more experience in running, then you can partake in an intermediate training plan, and so on. 

Beginner half marathon plans can last anytime between twelve to sixteen weeks. They will include: 

  • Easy runs
  • Speed training
  • Long runs 
  • Strength training 

Let’s check these out in more detail below. 

Long Runs 

For beginners, long runs should be completed once a week. The purpose of a long run is to increase your stamina and endurance so you will be able to run 13.1 miles no sweat (okay, a little sweat.) 

Remember to pace yourself when completing your long run. It is not about doing it quickly, but ensuring you have the stamina to move for a long period of time.

You should aim to not feel out of breath while running. 

It is best to complete long runs over the weekend

Easy Runs 

Easy runs should be completed at a pace comfortable for you, much like a long run. With an easy run, you should be able to converse with another person without running out of breath. 

If you are a beginner, then you should complete around one to three easy runs in the week. 

It is best to complete easy runs during the week, as opposed to the weekend. 

Speed Training 

Speed training works to improve your endurance as well as your speed, although they are considered to be optional for a lot of beginner training plans. 

Examples of speed training are: 

  • Tempo running 
  • Interval training 
  • Fartlek training 

Strength Training 

Ideally, you should incorporate one strength training session per week into your routine. Strength training is vital for any runner who wants to improve their stamina.

 Strength training includes the following:

  • Weighted exercise 
  • Bodyweight exercise 

What Is The Best Way To Prepare For A Half Marathon?

So, before running your first half marathon, you need to ensure that you are following the right training plan as a form of preparation.

However, you also need to prepare in other ways. 

Here are some more details on the best ways to prepare for a half marathon, especially if it is your first time running one. 

Wear The Correct Running Shoes 

Even though it may seem like a good idea, wearing your gym shoes to a half marathon is best avoided. 

Running shoes are a must when it comes to half marathons, as the right footwear can make or break your experience.

If you wear shoes that are not appropriate for your feet, this can result in a difficult run, whether you develop painful blisters or accidentally injure yourself. 

It can be helpful to seek out a professional’s advice, such as those who work in specialist running shops, when deciding on your first pair of running shoes.

They will be able to guide you in picking the correct running shoes based on the type of race you will be running, your foot type, and your gait (Find out which running Nike Next Running shoe is better for you here). 

Half Marathon Tips And Tricks: 11 Things To Know Before Running A Half Marathon For The First Time

Here are some examples of good questions you will be asked when at a professional running shop, in order to find the best shoes for you:

  • What shoes do you usually run in and do they work for you?
  • How long have you been running?
  • Are you training for anything in particular?
  • Do you have any problems with your feet?
  • On average, how many miles a week do you run?
  • Where do you run the most?

It can be helpful to take running shoes with you when you visit the store. 

Also, it is important to note that on the day of the race, the last thing you want is to be wearing brand new running shoes.

This is a recipe for disaster. So, you will need to purchase your running shoes early on in your training so you have a chance to break them in for the day of the race. 

Wear The Correct Gear 

The correct running gear will differ depending on the place you will be running in. So, you will need to consider the following before investing in gear. 

  • Hot weather: if running in hot weather, then you will need to be wearing shorts and a short sleeve/tank top. 
  • Cold weather: if running during colder months, then you will need thick running tights and a great base layer 
  • Flat terrain: if running on roads or other flat terrains, then road running shoes are best 
  • Other terrains: if the terrain you are running on will be full of hills or off-road, then trail running shoes will be best. 

Of course, your own personal comfort plays a factor here, too. If you do not feel comfortable running in certain types of clothing, like shorts, then you do not need to wear them! 

After all, the last thing you need on the day of the face is uncomfortable clothing chafing or catching your skin.

So, make sure you train in the clothing you will actually wear on the day of the half marathon. 

Remember Body Fuel 

Fueling your body is vital when it comes to preparing for a half marathon. On race day, your body will burn a lot of energy.

So, it will need to correct fuel to help you persevere and maintain energy. 

So, while training for a half marathon, you need to eat more food than you normally would on a normal day.

However, these foods need to be nutritious and good for you.

Before the day of the race, it is a good idea to eat a lot of carbs so you have a lot of energy to keep you pushing throughout the race. This is known as carb loading. 

Carb loading helps you maximize your glycogen store in order to stop fatigue and allow you to perform at your best during the half marathon.

It is a good idea to carb load around two days before the half marathon. 

For you first-time half marathon runners, here are some carb-loading meal plan ideas! 

Breakfast: A low-fiber cereal (3 cups), whatever milk you like, and a banana (medium-sized.)

Snack: Toast with nut butter of your choice (1 piece) and a sports drink of your choice (500 ml.)

Lunch: Two sandwiches with whatever filling you would like and some fruit yogurt (low fat.)

Snack: Banana smoothie with your chosen milk and a cereal bar 

Dinner: Pasta (2 cups) with pasta sauce (1 cup), garlic bread (3 slices) and 2 glasses of water. 

Snack: Jam on toast (1 slice) with a sports drink (500 ml.) 

11 Things To Know Before Running A Half Marathon For The First Time

Half Marathon Tips And Tricks: 11 Things To Know Before Running A Half Marathon For The First Time

Now that you have a training plan and are prepared with the right gear and meal plan, let’s go through the 11 things to know before running a half marathon for the first time!

1. Slow And Steady Wins The Race 

This is a very important half marathon tip. It is important to not focus on anyone else or their run time.

The most important thing is you and how you pace yourself throughout the race in order to finish it. 

It is important to consider yourself to be a failure because you are not running as fast as other people.

After all, they are not in your shoes and only you can set the right running pace for you. 

2. Set A Good Pace 

Similar to the step above, it is wise to decide on a pace before you start the half marathon.

It is best to keep consistent so you can tailor your training to this pace, rather than stop and start and change your speed mid-race.

Consistency is key here. You need to ensure you have enough energy to finish the race, the last thing you want is to burn out too quickly or end up running too slowly. 

The best way to set a pace for yourself is to use a pace calculator.  

3. Don’t Compare Yourself 

It is not wise to compare yourself to other runners, in terms of speed, stamina, body type, perceived fitness, etc.

It may bother you if they overtake you, but do not forget that this is your first run, while they are likely to be experienced runners. 

All the comparison game achieves is killing your confidence and placing unnecessary pressure and stress on you. 

4. Run With Others 

When running a half marathon for the first time, it can be helpful to join a running group. Running with others can be vital for your confidence and motivation.

Other runners will be able to lift you up and keep you going when you are struggling.

They will give you tips to help you improve, and will also hold you accountable for those moments when you lose motivation or do not try as hard during your training sessions. 

5. Run Solo 

If it is your first half marathon but you already run with a group, then we recommend trying to run solo. Here, you will be forced to rely on yourself for discipline and motivation.

This will help improve your performance overall and make you a much better runner than before, 

It is important to note that if you do decide to run solo, you must always inform someone of where you are going to ensure you keep safe.

It is also a good idea to plan the route you will run before you start training. 

It is best to avoid running at night. However, if you do, please ensure you run in well-lit areas. 

6. Prepare Yourself Mentally 

Your training plan and gear prep help you to prepare for a half marathon physically.

However, it is vital that you prepare yourself mentally for the race, so you do not have the urge to, or are able to fight the urge to quit on the day. 

It is important to remember that all runners will experience the urge to quit, no matter how experienced they are or how much they have trained.

Beginner runners may take this as a sign that they have failed or they aren’t good enough. This is not true, and these feelings and thoughts are natural. It is important to push through them. 

7. Make Sure You Stay Hydrated 

Hydration is vital. You will need to drink plenty of water leading up to and during the half marathon. 

During the half marathon, you will burn many calories and lose a lot of water through sweat. So you must ensure you hydrate yourself after the race has ended. 

A great drink of choice is plain water.

However, you may want to consider drinks with slow-releasing sodium and carbs, or drinks that have sugar in them, if your run is going to last for more than an hour. 

As a general rule, it is a good idea to replace 80% of the water that you lost while running.

In other words, aim to drink around 500ml of water after your run has concluded. 

8. Remember The Tapering Period

Tapering is when you reduce the amount of exercise you do in the days leading up to a half marathon or any other endurance race.

This may seem like the opposite of what you need to do, but the aim here is to avoid tiring yourself out before you have even started the race. 

Don’t forget the tapering period while preparing for your race!

9. Don’t Forget About Recovery 

During the half marathon, your body will have been pushed to its limit. So, you will need time to rest and recover. 

Even though you will feel elated when you finish your race, it would be unwise to immediately jump into running for long periods of time.

This will increase your risk of injury because your body will not be ready. 

Also, it is important to note that rest and recovery time is also important while you are training for the half marathon. Rest days are there for a reason – please do not skip them! 

10. Remember To Stretch 

Half Marathon Tips And Tricks: 11 Things To Know Before Running A Half Marathon For The First Time

Stretching is very important. You may feel very sore after the race, so it is a good idea to incorporate stretching into your recovery time. 

11. Don’t Forget To Enjoy Yourself 

While half marathons are difficult, they are also supposed to be fun! Many runners make the mistake of placing too much pressure on themselves while training for the race.

This can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety about the half marathon, and they may feel like it just isn’t worth it. 

While training, getting the right gear, and eating the right food are important, they should not make your experience of the half marathon miserable. 

So, if you find yourself feeling down during the race, try looking up at your surroundings.

Take note of the volunteers, your fellow runners, the spectators who have come to support you, their own families, friends, etc.

Make the most of your experience and enjoy it for what it is. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is The Best Time For A First Half Marathon?

The best running time is you setting your own pace and running the race with your comfort in mind.

Generally, an achievable beginner goal is finishing the race between 2-3 hours. 

How Do I Break In My Running Shoes?

The best way to break in your new running shoes is to wear them around the house initially.

Wear them in short bursts of time so you do not develop blisters or injure your feet. 

Then, it is a good idea to begin wearing your running shoes on the treadmill. 

After this, it is a good idea to wear your running shoes outside and begin training in them for short periods of time, before gradually increasing your training time. 

Final Thoughts 

Running a half marathon is great for your physical and mental well-being. However, that does not mean it will be easy.

Half marathons are challenging, and you need to be extremely prepared in order to run them successfully, especially if you are a beginner. 

To prepare for a half marathon, you first need to ensure that you are on a good training plan.

For beginners, this means a plan that incorporates easy runs, long runs, speed training, and strength training. 

You will also need to ensure you are wearing the correct gear, such as the right running shoes and outfit.

Not only that, but your meal plan must be great, and carb-heavy in the days leading up to the race. 

During the race, it is important that you follow our eleven tips and tricks to ensure you complete the marathon successfully. 

Jessica Knight