Monday, May 12, 2014

Lessons from Half Marathon Training (the hard way)

I am less than a week away from a half marathon and I don't feel like I should be the person you go to for advice for half marathon training, since I broke all of these rules at least once, but probably much more. But, I've always been the type of person that had to learn lessons the hard way, so I'm going to share my lessons with you, and hopefully if you are training for a race or want to start running, you can take my word for these things.

1. Figure out your fuel-its quite the balance, figuring out what to eat and drink before a run and when. I learned the hard way that eating peanut butter at any point before a run does not end well for me. I also figured out what I like to eat (toast and fruit) with my coffee, and that I need to give myself two hours between breakfast and my run.

2. If you buy new shoes, break them in. I would suggest NOT buying a new pair of shoes 3 weeks before your race and only running in them three times before your last long run. In fact, I probably won't be running in my new shoes this weekend because my shoes definitely don't feel right just yet. Buy your new shoes early enough to get a lot of running in them, but dont try breaking them in on a twelve miler one week before your race. If you want to learn this lesson the hard way, your knees and ankles and hips and back probably will not be thanking you.

3. Do not experiment with workout supplements before a long run. I definitely wouldn't recommend trying a new pre-workout for the first time (especially if you dont usually use pre-workouts) before your last long run before your race. It is not ideal to have your heart beating rapidly and being unable to catch your breath. Figure this stuff out early, my friends, not late in the game. Every supplement, every food, every drink affects people differently and you definitely want to know this before race day.

4. Invest in running socks-cotton is not your friend. I spent weeks dealing with terrible blisters before I broke down and finally tried socks specifically for running. They are worth the investment. Trust me.

5. Find a running buddy to hold you accountable. If I hadn't had my friend Molly running with me week after week, I would've skipped far more runs than I did. If she hadn't been by my side each week, I would've taken walk breaks whenever it felt hard and shortened my miles. Even if we have our headphones in the whole time and rarely speak, having someone next to me is really helpful when I am trying to push through a tough run.

6. Don't skip your long runs-especially not two weeks before the race. Speaking of skipping runs, just don't. Its a terrible idea, and if you have to do it, make it up within a few days.

7. Do not let a bad run get inside your head. I've had some awesome runs during this training, and some terrible ones. But, one bad day doesn't mean you have a bad life right? One bad run doesn't mean you're a bad runner. Running is largely mental, so if you have a bad run, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back out there as soon as you can and know that runners have bad days too, but they are usually followed by AWESOME runs. Its like science or something.

8. Charge your electronics the night before your run. I don't know why I still am having to learn this lesson, but I run with my garmin and my phone and I seem to be scrambling the morning I am going running to find the chargers and hope that 25 minutes is going to give me enough juice. Its much simpler when I just put them on the chargers the night before, but this proves to be much too hard for me often.

9. Hydrate well, especially the days before a long run. I've read somewhere that staying hydrated during a long wrong is dependent on what you drank the day BEFORE your run-so fueling up on water a few hours before your run might help, but its best to drink up the days upcoming your long run/races. Half of my performance when I am running is dependent on being properly hydrated-I usually can tell when I didn't drink enough water because I feel like crap.

10. Be consistent. Running gets better the more you do it. YOU get better as a runner the more you run, so the best thing you can do is be consistent. Schedule out your runs and don't skip them. This is crucial!


  1. Yep, I have made all of these mistakes! You run and you learn haha

  2. I need to bookmark this and remember these if I ever actually get myself into training. GIRL I'm so proud. I can't believe you're that close to your half. You're going to rock it, I have no doubt. Can't wait to read your success story :)

  3. great tips, I have heard don't try new underwear out before your long run. My friend learned that the hard way

  4. Do you feel good after you run? Does it feel like it's hard on your body ( knee's,etc..?). The only reason I ask is because I've been hearing a heck of a lot about how sprinting is so much better for you than long distance running, because you're not constantly beating up your knee's. So, I'm just curious as to how you feel with all this long distance running. I used to run long distance and it didn't make my body feel good at all, and so I stopped, and now I just do sprint intervals. I'm just curious, because I know everyone's body is different and can handle different things better than others.

  5. Great info! I am struggling to get past a 5k but I am going to keep on pushing through! :)

  6. The bad runs always make you appreciate the good ones! These lessons are so true, so important to figure out your fuel before race day.

  7. What half are you doing? I'm starting to train for one in November. I need to get back on track.

  8. Mmm this is just what I needed to hear today! I am doing a 5K at the end of May and I have been slacking lately. I've never been a runner so a 5K is a big deal for me!