10 Tips for a Half Marathon Newbie 

So…. I signed up for a half marathon. I was very hesitant because I thought to myself- “what the hell am Igoing to think about in that 22km??!!”  I  had no idea!  Although I was up for the challenge!

My running adventure started two years ago.  I signed up for a Color Run with a few of my girlfriends.  We trained months in advance.  We were scared.. This was a  5k . It was so much fun!  We went out for lunch and had mimosas afterwards…. looking like we were in a war zone.

Shortly after that a few of us did the Electrodash… which was running at night… and lots of music through an amusment park.  Except it was thundering and lightening….. I don’t think that was the intention… because running through an amusment park, at night, in the rain, thunder, and massive lightening was probably not ideal. Electro-dash it was.  However, I loved running in the rain.  And I loved thunder and lightening.  So it was an adventure for me.

I quickly got bored of straight running. So I started signing up for obstacle runs. I signed up for a 5k Foam run with four girlsfriends.  All but my sister bailed.  My sister and I had a blast.  It was slippery, foamy and muddy.

My addiction to obstacle runs grew, as I signed up for Mud Hero and then Rugged Maniac.   It was a 6km run with challenging obstacles. Something about crawling through mud, and climbling over tunnels, and jumping over fire excited me.

During this time, I mostly did a lot of strength training.  Three to four times a week of deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and core.  My legs were good.  My endurance… not so much. So inbetween that I ran a couple times a week.  Usually a couple kilometers.  I hated running.  I just can not stand listening to myself breath.  My playlists were growing and growing, but I would quickly get bored.

The following year, 2016, January, I signed up for my first half marathon.  Only because that was my next challange.  It is good to have challenges and goals in life.

I spoke to a few half marathon runners and they all give useful tips and advice. They gave me running plans, as what to run and how to run week by week.  Six months was the ideal time frame to start training.

Well….   January was too cold for me to run…so was February … and March … but  I was still strength training.  It was not like I was stagnent .. doing absolutely nothing.

My friend who I was running with suggested we run a 10k…. so it would force us to train… it worked.  We trained a few times togethers.  She was an avid runner.  A lot lighter than myself and probably a lot more motivation.  I always ran for fun.  I lifted for personal records, she ran for personal records.

She was my motivator.  She always pushed me to go the extra mile.  The first time we ran together she was having a full fledged conversation with me.. I could barely listen to her, let alone try to answer her questions.  It is always good to have a friend to run with you for the first time.

We ran the Missisauga 10k.  It was alright.  Nothing to really complain about.  I was not dying.  The most I ran was probably 5 k.  So I thought I would die at 10k for sure.  It was not that bad.  As long you have great music and great scenery, you will be fine.

After the 10 k, which was in May, I did not run for a few weeks.  Soon after, I purchased my house I was renovating and I simply did not have the energy to run.  Running was not my priority any more.  I did not run or work out for two months while renovating the house.  September came fast, and I was in full fledge panic mode.  The kids started school and I tried to dedicate more time to running.  I ran maybe every other day and did weights two or three times a week.  The most I ran straight was 10km.  and on that day, my iphone battery went from 59% to 0% in less than 30 minutes.  That day was the longest run ever!!!

The day of the half marathon came.  I stacked my fanny pack with lots of fuel. My friend gave me Skittles, and M&M’s. The best was the pure syrup fuel.  I wish I remembered what it was called.   It came in a pouch and you just sucked it out of the pouch.   I don’t know if it really worked.. but it was definately a motivation for me to get to a certain point.

The Toronto Scotia run was by far amazing.  It was very scenic.  Very cool and refreshing.  I did not suffer at all.   The first 10 km’s went by quick.  It was at 17k, where my energy was drained.  At 21 km, I just wanted to bolt to the end, buy physically, could not.  I tried…but only lasted only a few steps.  I wanted to run… just to get it over with, but was impossible at the moment.  My body and my mind was no longer connected.

That very last km was the longest and most difficult part of the run.  I wanted so bad… so bad to make it to the finish looking good…  You should seen my finish line photos.  It looked like an angel dragged me across.

My goal was to run it in 2 hours and 30 minutes.  I ran it in 2 hours and 40 some minutes.  I was proud that I lived to tell the story.  I am proud to say I would  do it again.

My friend that I trained with ran by herself.  She was at a totally difference pace than I was.  So,  I ran it solo.  I think if I were to have a partner, I may have made it faster.  Some runners told me that their friends would push them to run, and they would encourage eachother.

Here are things I learned from my first half marathon…

1.  Run for Fun.  Your first should be for fun.  Just so that you know what to expect if you run it again- for serious…

2.  Train!  Some sort of training.  Lifting weights really helped me.  Not only did I lift weights, but we also did some cardio inbetween.  My legs were strong.  Don’t try couch to half marathon overnight.

3.  It is “ok” not to train 6 months in advance.  Unless you are trying to beat a previous goal, or register for a marathon. My goal was to finish… I trained for 30 days to build endurance.  If I would of trained longer, I  would of made better time. I otherwise had months of strength training in my back pocket.

4.  Eat a light, and a lot of carbs the night before… or so they say.  I ate an “all you can eat sushi”.  And Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake…. protein right?  So my meal before the marathon was probably not ideal.   I would probably have ran a little bit faster if  I did not have five pounds of sushi in my belly.  My girlfriend had to stop in the restroom halfway.  She claims that cost her ten minutes!

5.  Try to follow the time bunnies.  They hold up at time goal that people would like to achieve..  I was trying to follow the  2:30 bunny without success.

6.  Have your fuel and snacks in your fanny.  And tell yourself… at certain milemarkers you will give yourself a treat.  Have your liquid fuel.  Those are the best.  You don’t have to focus on chewing, just sucking back the liquid glory.  But make sure you know what it tastes like, and if you like it.  Apparently some things will give you diarrhea… and you dont want to have a snack that makes you want to vomit!  I was fortunate.

7.  Enjoy the scenery!  Take a deep breath in.  Enjoy the adrenalin rush, enjoy the people, the signs, people cheering you on.  Absorb the energy.

8.  If you need a break, take it!!  You don’t want to be one of those vomiting with parmaedics at the finish line!  When I was running and felt  that I could not run anymore, I walked.  But I also counted to ten and then started running again.  Give yourself a limit.

9.  Have your water.  I had my water bottle with coconut water and water mixed.  I stopped at every water station, for brief seconds.  Even if I was not thirsty.

10.  Pat yourself on the back!  You wanted to do this, and you will!

Ya ya..  I got the medal backwards during my selfie, I was quite delirious at the time.. haha!! cheers!

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