5 Tips for Training for Your First Full or Half Marathon
Now that the New Year is here, maybe you decided to set some big goals and register for your first marathon or half. Or, did you just watch Brittany Runs a Marathon and get inspired? Or perhaps you’ve decided to get in shape and have signed up for a race to keep you motivated. Whatever the reason, congrats. Now the fun begins - training! I ran my first half marathon nearly 10 years ago and have run at least one almost every year since (minus the two years I was pregnant and due right around Cleveland Marathon time). While I’m not competitive, my goals for my training are always as follows: 1. Do not get injured. 2. Have fun. 3. Finish the race!
In my years of training, here are 5 tips and how I’ve been able to accomplish my goals nearly every year:
1- Get fitted for the RIGHT pair of shoes. The one year I didn’t do this, I ended up finding out a week before my marathon that I had multiple stress fractures. And they hurt! So, please please PLEASE find a place that will watch you run/walk, and help you get the right pair of shoes and/or orthotics for your body. Call your local running store – they often provide this service for free.
2- Find a training schedule that works for you. I’m a fan of Hal Higdon’s schedules because they give you time to build up your mileage (their beginner half marathon schedule is 12 weeks long), come in different levels (starting at beginner) and are somewhat flexible. For example, if you have a long run scheduled for a Saturday but find yourself unable to run, you can switch things up and move it to another day in the week.
3- Find a support system. Training is NOT easy. But, it can be easier with friends who are going through the same thing. Find running buddies - online and off - to ask questions to, talk to about your training and even go for runs with sometimes. If you’re in Cleveland, here are a few great free online ones I’ve found:
- Moms Run This Town: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cleveland.ohio.mrtt/
- Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Training: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CLEMarathonTraining/
If you prefer in-person training groups, check your nearest running store. For example, Fleet Feet offers a variety of training programs and prices.
4- Fuel yourself properly. Make sure you’re eating food that fuels your running and drinking enough to stay hydrated. Runner’s World even offers some tips and a starter grocery list. Find what works for you. For example, I’ve learned I cannot eat peanut butter or bananas before going for a run; however, peanut butter and banana is one of my sister-in-law’s go-to pre-run meals. I also find that during long runs (8+ miles), especially if it’s hot out and I’m losing sweat, I do need some sort of fuel, like gels; whereas some people I know cannot take in gels when running.
5- Have fun! Not every run is going to be easy, good or fast. Some runs will make you question your training in the first place. But, as much as you can, go easy on yourself. Congratulate yourself for coming this far and cut yourself some slack. And remember one of my favorite running quotes: “No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping people on the couch.”