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Veteran runners provide important tips for beginner half marathoners

People register for half marathons for all sorts of reasons. Some sign up because they want the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing their first finish line. Others because they want to prove something to themselves or others. While the motives to start running may differ, one thing remains true: everyone is a beginner at some point! Completing your first 13.1-miler is an experience you won’t forget. Beginner half marathoners looking for advice have come to the right place. We collected the advice for beginner half marathoners that’s beneficial, thoughtful, insightful, and worth a read! Pro tip: if some terms are unfamiliar then become familiar with them!

Nutrition and hydration

  • Make sure your nutrition/hydration plan accounts for race-day temperatures.
  • Stop drinking about an hour before the start.
  • Stop at the aid stations before you think you need to. Some experienced runners will talk about how getting a little dehydrated is totally fine – and it is. But for your first half marathon, you risk more by letting yourself get behind on hydration than overdoing it.
  • Practice eating nutrition and drinking hydration during training. Experiment to find what works best for you. Make sure your stomach tolerates it. You might deal with some things better than others!

Training

  • Consistency in training.
  • If you trained well, then you’ve done everything that’s within your control. 
  • When running up and down hills, shorten your stride. Study the maps. Run the tangents.

Mentality

  • Start now ignoring that voice in your head that will tell you, this is hard, you can’t do it, you’re too old, it hurts, you can try again another race. You have to push through believing in your training and your determination and perseverance!
  • Bad patches will pass if you just distract yourself for a bit.
  • Don’t get stressed if you are a little boxed in early on.
  • Smile at all the cameras, thank as many volunteers as you can, high five all the people that put their hand out, take in all the scenery and enjoy every bit of it – YOU’RE RUNNING A HALF MARATHON!

Logistics

  • Body-glide, don’t forget it. 
  • Cotton is not your friend. 
  • However long you anticipate your half marathon will take to finish, multiply it by 2.5. Then make sure your playlist is that long, especially if you want warm-up tunes at the start line. There’s something weirdly demoralizing about your playlist starting over again when you thought it was long enough. 
  • If you feel a blister forming look for an aid station and add some vaseline or moleskin (if available).

Pacing

  • If you feel like you need to walk you need to slow down.
  • Run at your target pace, do not get sucked into running faster because of the rush you get from the other runners/crowd. 
  • Don’t go out too fast! The secret to a fast half marathon is a negative split (meaning you run the second half of your race faster than the first half). Patience! 
  • Go slow, start slow, and ignore the pressure to pick up your pace just because you’re doing well. 
  • Do not set a time goal for your first half marathon.
  • If you don’t think you’re going too slow, you’re going too fast.

And the most common advice we heard for beginner half marathoners?

Nothing. New. On. Race. Day!

7 different ways your training can create the healthier lifestyle you want

Half marathons are extremely popular within the running community. Every day, more people start running as a way to create a healthier lifestyle. Consistency is key if half marathon training is to become a factor in reaching your goal of having a healthier lifestyle. Even if you spend 12-18 weeks training, the consistency of your training plan will naturally lead you to a healthier lifestyle. Yes, you have to hydrate, get enough sleep, and eat right. That’s what will fuel your body during training. Doing that effectively will provide you with what you need during your half marathon training and factor into your healthier lifestyle. Below are 7 different ways training for 13.1 miles can create the healthier lifestyle you want.

Improve cardiovascular capacity

Your stamina will improve as your mileage increases.

Your cardiovascular capacity will become more efficient as your miles increase during your training. Cardiovascular capacity is basically your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles. This is vital to your growth as a runner! As your body gets better at this, you’ll be able to cover longer distances. During your build-up, that tough 6-mile run will become just another number during your longer runs down the road. Building up your stamina coincides with your increase in mileage, which will help on race day.

Burn calories

Once you get into the groove and start covering long distances regularly, your body’s metabolism rate will improve. New runners also burn more calories than veteran runners because they’re working harder. Don’t forget to fuel your body with a well-balanced diet and regularly hydrate. Burning calories is directly linked to the next benefit, weight loss. But you have to burn more than you take in! That’s why eating healthy foods and hydrating effectively is the foundation to a healthier lifestyle.

Lose weight

You’ll lose weight during your training if you follow your plan and eat healthily.

If you eat properly, hydrate effectively, and stick to your training plan, weight loss will occur. This could also help you become a better and more efficient runner. The less weight you run with, the easier it will be for your body to run. Some runners actually do the opposite and wear weighted vests. This makes their run or workout more difficult, helping them become stronger. Your metabolism, a balanced diet, and consistent routine are all crucial to losing weight and establishing a healthier lifestyle. 

Create structure

Finding the right balance in one’s life isn’t simple these days, especially with work, family, friends, travel, and leading a healthier lifestyle. Once you decide to train for a half marathon, you’ll need to fit that into your busy schedule. Figure out what works best for you, build your routine, and you’ll develop a natural schedule. All you need to do is be smart and tweak your lifestyle around this schedule. If you’re a morning person, knock out your run before work. Skip that happy hour and fast food and eat a healthy meal and go to bed early instead. If you have kids, take them with you. All of these little changes will create your training structure.

Better your mental health

Running can reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

Life, work, kids, unnecessary drama, and uncontrollable external factors can all increase stress and anxiety. This could lead to poor eating, drinking too much, and a lack of sleep. Running helps reduce stress and anxiety which in turn helps you stay on track. Solidifying your routine, strengthening your body, and eating well can make you fit and improve your mental health. Think of it as a cycle

  • you build a routine, eat right, and sleep well so you can train
  • your training can help reduce stress and anxiety
  • you reduce stress and anxiety so you can stay on track
  • repeat!

Join the running community

There are running groups and clubs just about everywhere. Some are free, some charge a monthly fee for coaching and training. Give them a try until you find the one(s) that work best for you. They could help dictate your schedule, introduce you to new people, and get advice from veteran runners. As you get more comfortable, you’ll meet new people and slowly become a part of your running community.

Boost immunity

Better metabolism, improved stamina, and increased lung capacity are health benefits that can lead to an improved immune system. This could help your body recover from runs faster, make you less susceptible to illness, and further your healthier lifestyle. If you’re sick you won’t be able to run or workout until you’re better. Having an immune system that’s in tip-top shape will keep you on track and in your healthier lifestyle routine.

Running has many benefits that can lead to a healthier lifestyle. Settle on your routine and stick with it. Eat right, hydrate effectively, and get enough sleep. All of these actions are connected to your training and can lead to a healthier lifestyle. All of this can benefit your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. 

Expand your knowledge as a runner when you learn about these running terms

Running is a great addition to your life. Not only does it help you get or stay in shape, but it also stimulates your brain and improves your mental health. Every day people discover running through their friends, social media, or curiosity. While running itself is a simple concept, runners have been known to complicate it a bit with science, analytics, and terminology! We introduce you to and break down various running terms all runners should know, especially first-timers.

Expand your running vocabulary

Base Run

Different training runs will prepare you for race day.

This is the short run or maintenance run that you do. This should be done at a moderate speed for a moderate length of time. At this pace, you should be able to hold a conversation easily.

Strides

This is a run of 50-100m. Your stride is purposefully longer as you gain speed and momentum before reaching your top speed. Great for activating and strengthening muscles. Strides can be done as a warm-up, cool down, or specific workout aimed at increasing your speed.

Shakeout 

Extremely easy-paced jog meant to loosen your body and get the blood flowing. Can be a shorter distance (1-2 miles) or time (10-15 minutes).

Progression Run

As the name suggests in this type of run you progressively increase your speed until your pace becomes more difficult to sustain. This helps your body acclimate to different paces and increase your lung capacity.

Intervals 

Runners often run strides or a quick shakeout run before a race.

Intervals are the short, slow runs sandwiched between your longer, fast runs. The longer runs are meant to be more intense with the shorter runs acting as your recovery. Adding intervals is a great way to vary your running routine and grow as a runner.

Turnover Workout

This workout includes short bursts so that your body becomes acclimated to the rotation of the joints. Higher turnover uses less energy and decreases stress on your muscles. 

Threshold Run

This run involves a speed that is slightly faster than your usual pace but a little under your 5K pace. As you grow as a runner you should be able to hold this pace for at least 30 minutes. 

Tempo Run 

Pickup runs prepare you for when you get fatigued at the end of your race.

Tempo refers to a higher speed at which you can maintain momentum for a long time. This type of workout can be uncomfortable, but it’s great for anyone looking to build their stamina or push themselves. 

Pickup Run

Usually done in the middle or end of a workout or run. Increasing your pace in the middle or at the end of a run is perfect for getting used to running while being fatigued. It helps train your mind and body to eventually run longer distances and times.

Recovery Run

As the name suggests, it is there to help you recover. It is a slow-paced run and helps you with your form and improves fatigue resistance. Meant to be extremely relaxed.

Cool Down

A light jog of a mile or two keeps the blood flowing even though you are progressively slowing down. 

Running has multiple benefits, but beginner runners can make mistakes when starting out. Become familiar with these running terms and trust the process. Remember to effectively warm-up before any run to ensure you get the most out of your workout and prevent injury.