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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tips for a Beginner Half Marathon Runner

If you've been reading my blog since last year, you have been aware that I trained and ran my first half marathon.  I tell people all the time that it was the best thing I could have done for myself: structured, goal achieving workout.  I started training in August and my half was in October.  Let me mention, I was training for a 5k before that so my body was pretty used to running.  

When looking into training programs online, I didn't see anything that I loved so I created my own which you can use as well.  Its a 12 week program that was awesome!  I took Sundays as my rest day but you can definitely rearrange to what your needs are.  Also X-train is cross train meaning you do something other than running.  I would do yoga, Zumba, weight training…just to name a few.

Tip 1: If you haven't signed up for a race, do so now.  Make sure you find one that you know or are familiar with the route.  I ran the Halloween half and trained on the course many times.  Mine was mostly down hill and as a beginner, I would recommend that you find something mostly downhill.  I have only been running for 6 months so going downhill is something that I can manage for 13 miles. 

Tip 2: It's ok to walk.  My good friend Aubrey who I trained with and is a seasoned marathon runner will walk 60 seconds for every mile that she runs.   This prolongs your energy and makes it so you can run longer.  I really liked doing this in the beginning because I knew that after a mile, if I was dying I could walk a little bit and catch my breath.  After a month of training for this, I was able to run 2 miles and walk for a minute.

Tip 3: Be flexible with your schedule.  We all have to follow a schedule leading up to the race, but somedays a run is just not going to happen.  Make sure you make it up especially if its a mile longer than you ran before.  Like if you are used to running 6 miles and have to run a 7 miler, those are important in training.  When I was training, my husband had Saturdays off of work so I made sure those were my long run days.  Long runs are the days you run the most for the week. Every week it gets a greater distance too.  That way I could get up early, go run and not be rushed for time.

Tip 4: You can't push speed and distance at the same time.  I learned this throughout my race over and over.  When half marathon training, its all about building up endurance.  You have to not focus on the time it takes you to run but more the miles you are running. If you are naturally fast that is awesome! However, if you are a slow runner, like me (my mile averages 11-12 minutes) then focus on running miles.  Even though my mile time may be slower than most, I can run 6-7 miles without a problem.  

Tip 5: Don't be scared! I remember being terrified when I signed up for my first half.  I just didn't really comprehend what I was doing.  13.1 miles is soooo long! Well now that I did it, it was amazing.  You always envision that you're going to be the last person finishing the race and they are going to have to pick you up.  It won't happen, I promise! If you train right, you will do really well!

Tip 6: You don't have to run 13 miles before you actually run.  The longest long run I did was 12.  And it wasn't pretty.  I walked the last half mile because I WAS DONE! I have had friends who did 8 as their longest, but I don't recommend that for a beginner.  Your body will build up enough endurance and come race day, adrenaline will kick in! You just have to pace yourself through out the whole race because its so tempting to run as fast as you can at the beginning.  If you run 10-12 during training, you should be fine.

Tip 7: BE PROUD! Every time you finish a run, remember how amazing you are for doing this.  Something like 1% of the population has ran a marathon.  Basically, you are one of very few who set out to do this. This is an incredible goal and looking back, I miss training so much.  I spent so much time learning new things about myself while running.  I am excited to start training again in March.


  1. Thank you for this. I just embarked on training for a half marathon and this was really inspiring.

  2. What I love about this is that these are tips from someone who has been there in the recent past making them seem that much more practical and do-able! I've had a half and full marathon on my bucket list for a while now...maybe it's the year to knock them off!

  3. Looks like a good training plan!

  4. Thank you! Looking to train for my first half (SLC half) and I love all this advice! Love following you on Instagram too!

  5. Thank you! Looking to train for my first half (SLC half) and I love all this advice! Love following you on Instagram too!

  6. I found this post through Pinterest and can I just say that this is AWESOME! I am training for my first half and this is one of the only "tips for running..." posts I have seen that tells you IT IS OK TO WALK! I have been running since March 2013 and I still love the walk 60 seconds for every mile approach. One of my biggest fears when I started was needing to walk and not being able to run the whole thing. Also, I am loving your training plan!

  7. I am so pinning this for when I am ready to start running!

  8. I just signed up for my first half marathon and I'm so nervous. Thanks for posting these tips and training schedule! It still seems so daunting but after reading this, I know I can do it!!
    ps Thanks for being awesome..

  9. The beginner marathon tips above just helped me safely and comfortably train for and compete in my first half marathon event.

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  10. I'm a half marathon beginner and your blog post has helped me a lot :)

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