How to Train for a Half Marathon Like a Boss

So, you’ve signed up for a half-marathon eh? Congrats! I can only imagine the excitement and nerves. One of my happiest moments in my life was when I completed my first half marathon in Fall 2013. It was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (sad they stopped that race) and it was a magical experience. It’s pretty crazy to think that this Sunday I’m going to run my 7th half marathon, this time in Santa Cruz!

Now I am no expert or certified coach, but I am someone who’s had a fair share of trial and error when preparing for half marathons. Here are some tips I wish I had when I first started training:

Planning

  • Select a race! This part is so exciting and what makes training so much more real! When choosing a race think about what matters to you: is it the cost, the location, the scenery, the course terrain, the date? Then use sites like Running in the USA to help you find the perfect race.
  • Find a training plan: The Nike Run Club app is a great place for a customized plan otherwise the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Guide is a reliable resource. Or maybe you want to do some research and join an in-person training group ( I LOVE this option).
  • Choose your long-run day: it’s important to dedicate one day out of the week for your long-run. I’ve personally prefer Saturday as mine!

Workouts

  1. Run at least 3 times a week: Personally, I usually run no more than 4 times a week because my body does get quite tight from running so I like to cross-train or strength train instead on other days.
  2. Speaking of strength training, Make sure you’re doing. I neglected strength training when I first started running half marathons and it was a big mistake that led to injury. I find it especially important to strengthen your core & glutes because we easily forget about those two when running. I highly recommend POP Pilates videos for core work!
  3. Find a buddy: Running partners are great for accountability and motivation. They are super helpful for long runs.  Ten miles by yourself may sound daunting, but with a friend or two to keep you company, those miles fly by easily.
  4. Foam rolling is your new best friend. Foam roll, stretch, or do yoga on a consistent basis to help relieve muscle tightness for ideal recovery. You should be scheduling time for foam rolling in your training regime.

^ugh I miss these necklaces…

Nutrition

  1. Training for a half marathon isn’t an excuse to eat/drink everything in sight…unfortunately. Eat wholesome, nutrient-dense meals when training for a half marathon. Don’t overdo alcohol, caffeine, and heavy foods.
  2. Be mindful of what you eat the night before and the morning of long-runs and races. For dinner I’ll have a lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbs. For breakfast, I’ll eat a smaller portion of overnight oats, a smoothie or fruit before a run. Then, I like to refuel with some protein and carbs.
  3. For long runs, make sure you are carrying water, enough calories, and possibly electrolytes. I like taking Gu chomps for runs longer than 70-80 minutes and I recently started to hydrate with Nuun after my longer runs.

Mind

  1. Stay relaxed and have fun! Along with physical fitness,  mental fitness is super important when training for a half marathon. Don’t stress if you aren’t following the plan perfectly (here are some tips if you are struggling with motivation). Listen to your body throughout the process. In the end, it’s only a race!

Feeling ready yet? Now go own this race! Please reach out if you’d like any more tips or have any other questions.

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