The First-Timers Guide to a Half Marathon!

Long distance running is a battle of highs and lows. Some miles are better than others and some really make you second guess what you are doing. However, its those highs that keep you coming back for more!

I just ran my very first half marathon last week in San Francisco. Holy Guacamoley- it was hard, emotional and incredible!  When I crossed the finish line, I felt an emotion  I have never experienced before.  I imminently called my mom crying…. in the tears of joy way…. I just didn’t know what else to do!

I learned there are two parts to preparing for your first half marathon: Physical and Mental. Below I have a super clear training program to help you prep the physical. If you can force yourself to follow this bad boy, you’ll be just fine. If in the beginning you can’t run straight through the miles, its all good! Just walk it out, you’ll get there!

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Week
1
off 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles off 3 miles 4 miles
Week
2
off 3 miles 4 miles 3 miles off 3 miles 4 miles
Week
3
off 3 miles 4 miles 3 miles off 3 miles 5 miles
Week
4
off 3 miles 5 miles 3 miles off 4 miles 6 miles
Week
5
off 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles off 3 miles 7 miles
Week
6
off 4 miles 4 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 8 miles
Week
7
off 4 miles 6 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 9 miles
Week
8
off 4 miles 6 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 10 miles
Week
9
off 4 miles 6 miles 4 miles off 3 miles 11 miles
Week
10
off 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 12 miles
Week
11
off 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles off 3 miles 6 miles
Week
12
off 3 miles 5 miles 3 miles off 2 miles 13.1
miles!

 

Now for the mental preparation:

Before leaving Denver to head to SF, my mentor told me something that stuck with me the entire race. She said to embrace my surroundings and run from within my heart, not in my head. She was right- the moment I began to over think my run I started to lag. If this happens to you take a deep breath. Really feel the air enter through your nose, fill your chest and stomach, and then slowly exit through your mouth. And go!

The hills were a challenge, that won’t change. However, with a little strategy you can easily make it a little less challenging! On your way up keep your weight forward, driving the hill using only the ball of your foot rather than your heal. For me, I found a breathing pattern that worked really well; right foot inhale, left foot exhale.

Going back down is another story. Give your knees a break by really opening your stride and allowing your momentum to take you all the way. This is a great chance to take in deep breaths and allow oxygen to get back into your blood and cut some time!

During your training find what other strategies work for you. Some people like endurance jells, others like chocolate. For me, my body rejects everything so I just take advantage of the water stations along the way!

Most importantly, never forget why you started and let yourself feel the roller coaster of emotions! Its a blast!

 


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