If you haven’t read this post “So You Want To Run A Half Marathon”, stop what you’re doing and read that first. A lot of my advice is prefaced in that post.
It’s the most wonderful time of year! I’ve put together my best practical training advice and tips for you to use! If you’ve committed to running a race, then we’re going to get through this together.
One of the best things I did for myself in training for the half was preparation. So my goal is to help you be as prepared as possible for your race. If you’ve already ran a race before, perhaps some of these tips can help you to improve.
YOU SHOULD BE STARTING NOW.
The Pittsburgh race is in early May, so about 15 weeks from the date of this post. I would highly recommend giving yourself 16 solid weeks to prepare. Especially if this will be your first race.
So in that case, you need to start now. In this post you’ll find answers to;
WHAT DO I NEED
HOW DO I TRAIN
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO
WHAT DO I NEED?
From a ton of research and from my own personal experience, I’ve compiled a list of 6 essentials that you will need to have for training (and race day). It is so important to treat every single training run as if it were the day of the race. Why? Because conditioning your mind for 13.1 miles is equally as important as conditioning your body.
6 Things To Consider Getting:
- Real Running Shoes: I say real because Nike and Adidas and all of the cool brands market shoes as “running shoes.” For some, these stylish shoes don’t present any issues. But for most, the lack of support can cause injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. You want to prevent injury at all costs (and by all costs, I mean like $120 for good shoes). As you’ll see further down in this post, you’ll be running somewhere around 140 miles BEFORE you even step foot behind the starting line. That is no joke. It is crucial that you have supportive, high quality shoes. I recommend going to a professional running store and getting fitted for shoes that will work for your feet and running tendencies. I wear Brookes Transcends and they have worked out really great for me.
- Download yourself a running app: I use Run Keeper. You’re going to want to track your pace and mileage. I set my app to talk to me every half mile (which may be the default now). This has become monumental in my mental game… If I don’t hear that chick’s voice, it throws my entire run off. My body has become in sync with my half-mile-markers. This will also help you to set your pace for race day.
- Something for your phone: My all time favorite solution are those new leggings that have a pocket on your thigh for your phone. Arm bands and waste bands shift and slide as I run, but the legging pocket keeps my phone snug. I can also store my key and ID (you should always run with your ID when running outside).
- Gummies: I’ve tried the running gels and trust me, they leave a funny film on your tongue that will eventually make you nauseous. I really like gummy bears or something similar that I can pop into my mouth easily when I hit mile 4, 6, 8 and 10. You should consider some kind of “quick carb” like candy or mints to give you spurts of energy throughout your run.
- Foam Roller: Praise God for whoever invented these things. You should roll as often as possible to keep your muscles from tightening up. You’re going to be sore… Even if you’re in shape or you run somewhat consistently, you will still feel like your bones ache. I even got a little roller ball for my feet because they tend to cramp up a lot.
- Epsom Salt Baths: I’m becoming the poster child for epsom baths, but they really do come in handy in all sorts of ways! The epsom salts draw toxins out of your body that will be released from your muscles as you train. It’s important to not let those build up. The soaking also helps to relieve muscle and joint pain in general. Follow my story on Instagram @espressoandfit to see my bath tub science projects over the next few weeks (essential oils and epsom salts are life).
HOW DO I TRAIN?
Make a plan and actually follow it. Tape it to your mirror, shower door, car windshield, I don’t care. Wherever you will see it often. Get yourself mentally prepared everyday for what’s coming next. Just finished a three mile run? Okay great, start thinking about the 4 mile run coming up. Trust me, it works. You have to really commit to this race if you want to get through it painlessly.
Here’s my 15 week training plan:
Before you freak out, just remember that you signed up for this with one intention or another. Keep that intention in front of you like a donut on a string. You CAN do this regardless of what shape you are in on week 15.
WEEKS // FIRST RUN // SECOND RUN // LONG RUN
15 WEEKS – 2 MILES, 2 MILES
14 WEEKS – 2 MILES, 2.5 MILES, 2 MILES
13 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, 3.5 MILES
12 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, 4 MILES
11 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, 4 MILES
10 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, 5 MILES
9 WEEKS – 3.5 MILES, 2 MILES, 5 MILES
8 WEEKS – 4 MILES, 2 MILES, 6 MILES
7 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, 6 MILES
6 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2.5 MILES, 7 MILES
5 WEEKS – 4 MILES, 2 MILES, 8 MILES
4 WEEKS – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, 9 MILES
3 WEEKS – 4 MILES, 3 MILES, 10 MILES
2 WEEKS – 4 MILES, 3 MILES, 11 MILES
1 WEEK – 3 MILES, 2 MILES, REST
You should spread your runs out over the course of your week. Most commonly, people run their first run Monday, second run Wednesday and LONG RUNS on Saturday.
I understand that everyone’s schedule is different which is why I didn’t assign days to any of the runs. But if you can, I highly recommend scheduling your long runs on a weekend day (because the race day is going to be a weekend day) and sometime in the morning (because the race will be sometime in the morning). Remember, you want to mimic the race as much as possible.
If this is too much on your body or schedule, lower your SECOND RUNS ONLY. Do not lower your long runs. Those have to happen. But I’m confident that this plan will get you safely to 13.1 miles if you follow it as-is. (PS- you shouldn’t run the full 13.1 before the race, that is why I’ve stopped you at 11)
Also, weeks 8-11 are interchangeable weeks. Here’s the deal; you’re going to have off weeks. Something is going to come up and you’re going to probably miss a long run or two. Or maybe you’ll run into a small injury forcing you to take a week off. ITS OKAY. I’ve planned for that in this schedule. You can afford to miss two long runs if you have to, especially if you stick to my plan as closely as possible.
If you run this entire schedule, you’ll have over 140 miles under your belt before the race even starts. One thing to note here is that you should really make it a goal of yours to never stop to walk. If you start that habit from the get-go, you’ll more than likely do it on race day… Stopping to walk totally throws off your rhythm and focus and it can be hard to get that back.
IN ADDITION TO RUNNING
You need to be in the gym.
If you don’t belong to a gym, invest in some 12-20+ pound free weights for your home. Your leg muscles need to be strong in order to successfully run 13.1 miles. Here are some key exercises you can do in-between runs.
DISCLOSURE: at this point in the post you’re probably thinking, damn… this is a lot. Well, I’m here to tell you that yes… It is really a lot. But lemme spin it to you this way; Most people do not run a half marathon in their lifetime. Actually, most people wouldn’t even consider it. So it must be challenging and out of the norm. Anything that falls into that category requires dedication, time, blood, sweat, tears, etc. But those tend to be the things and experiences that we hold closest to us. Training for a half marathon is a commitment and it’s hard but it is so worth every second when you finally cross the finish line.
You can do this. Don’t let it intimidate you.
EAT TO TRAIN
Diet definitely matters in preparing your body and mind for a race. Make sure you are getting tons of complete nutrients from fruits and veggies. I’ve found that not drinking alcohol two days prior to a long run is really beneficial. Drink plenty of water all of the time. Eat plenty of carbs (yay carbs!) the day before/morning of your runs.
I also take a turmeric supplement and I try to add it into my diet as much as possible to help with inflammation.
You will have inflammation. It’s gonna be great.
I’m going to write another post closer to race day about race day; what you should do to prepare, how to deal with parking, what time you should arrive, etc. But in the meantime, keep up with my Instagram story for continuous tips and advice, meals and exercises that you can add into your training.
If you’ve committed to running a race this year, congratulations! I’m so excited for your journey!
Comment below with feedback, I love to hear from readers 🙂 Thanks for reading!