Half Marathon Tips

The KC Half Marathon is right around the corner! 2 days!  I’ve completed a handful of half marathons so far, so for today’s Thursday’s Things, I want to share some tips I’ve learned, and some tips I’ve heard that I’m going to utilize this weekend.

Photo Oct 18, 10 18 28 AM

KC Half Marathon, October 2014.  My second half marathon.

My #1 main goal for a half marathon, any half marathon, is to finish! My #2 goal is to run the whole thing without walking.  So far, I’m 5 for 5 on my #1 goal, and 0 for 5 on my #2 goal! I feel like I’m in the best running shape I’ve ever been in, and am going into the KC Half Marathon with high hopes, but I’m not putting pressure on myself.  I want to go out there, have fun, enjoy the beautiful October weather, and run with thousands of my running buddies!

Start slow.  Don’t start out too quickly.  It is nearly impossible to “bank time.” Usually, you run too quickly, positive split, and run out of energy in the tank.  It is hard for me to slow down at the beginning, because the excitement of starting a half marathon and tons of people around makes me want to run faster.  Use that garmin and make sure you start slowly!

Photo Oct 30, 8 44 58 PM

Hydrate before and during the race.  The days and weeks leading up to a half marathon (or any lengthy race) are very important.  I pride myself on drinking lots of water and staying well-hydrated, but in the weeks, and especially in the few days before my race, I up my water intake even more.  And during the race, it is important to drink, and fuel, for that matter, BEFORE you are thirsty, and BEFORE you feel like you need fuel.  In the past several weeks, I’ve been using fuel on long runs to know what my body can handle (more on this in another post later) and to practice my water and fuel intake.

Nothing new on race day. Nothing at all should be new on race day.  No new shoes, no new outfits, no new fuels.  Don’t eat something weird or new before the race, don’t try running with (or without) music if you’re not used to it.  Race morning needs to be as routine and boring as possible.  Race morning is not the time to try out a new sports bra or a new pair of running shoes.

Get some good sleep.  And be nice to your body in the week leading up to and the week (or two) after the race.  Sleep, and being rested, is very important, but really, who sleeps well the night before a race? I sure don’t!  Research has shown that a good night’s rest two nights before the race is more important than the night before.  Be nice to your body, don’t do any crazy new workouts the week before a race.  Respect at least a bit of taper; slow your times down and/or run less mileage the week to 10 days before the race.  This allows your body and legs be rested for race day.

Photo Oct 13, 1 23 19 PM

Always use the bathroom before the race. Always a good idea to use the bathroom or port-a-potty at least once before the race starts.  I have a nervous tummy, and use the bathroom approximately 240957 times before a race.  Don’t pass up that opportunity, because you don’t always know if there will be a spot to stop on the race course when you might need one, and who wants the time to keep ticking while you’re doing your business?

HAVE FUN! Remember, most importantly of all, running is supposed to be fun! You’re racing for fun!  Unless you’re an elite athlete, where running is your career, the rest of us mortals are running for fun!

Now, there are hundreds of tips, tricks, and things to remember for training, racing, fueling, running, etc.  I only highlighted a few that I find very important, and want to remember, going into my sixth half marathon this weekend.  If you have a tip for me or the readers, please leave a comment!

For those running or racing this weekend, GOOD LUCK!

8 thoughts on “Half Marathon Tips

  1. I’ve run 8 half marathons, and on only 3 of them was I able to run the entire distance without walking or stopping. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) those 3 continuous runs were springtime halfs (RTP, Garmin, Vancouver). My first half was Kansas City and I managed to get to mile 8 before my first and only walk break of maybe a quarter mile. But I had hit the wall because of bad fueling about then too. Fortunately, I had a wingman with me who got me through the last 5 miles like a boss.

    My only goals for the KC full this weekend are to beat the two-hour cut-off at mile 7.5 so they let me stay on the full course (should NOT be a problem) and then finish within the 6 hour total time limit (also should not be a problem since I did that at my first full and I’m in better shape now). I’m not going to try to run the entire 26.2 miles, and I have given myself permission to walk up the hills (and anywhere else) if I need to. I’m going to run the race I can, not someone else’s race.

    I’m picking up my packet tonight and doing my last carb loading. Then I’m going to lay out all of my gear just to build my confidence. At least that much will be under my control.

    • I’m beyond inspired that you are doing the full! I’m considering and internally debating trying KC next fall as my first full.

      You said it, run the race you can, not someone else’s race. That’s perfect.

      I’ll be picking my packet up tomorrow after work. If I don’t see you Saturday, best of luck to you!!

      • My “sage” advice is to choose a flat race for your first full. I hear Chicago is flat (but do you have to qualify for it now?) and Wichita is supposed to be flat. I was looking at one in the Cayman Islands that is pancake flat. It’s in December, so you’d have to accommodate yourself to decent temperatures, ocean views, snorkeling, the Caribbean vibe, and other hardships, which counterbalance the flatness of the course I guess.

      • I’ve been thinking about finding a flat race, but I don’t know if I want to travel for my first one. I have a bit of time to think it over. I’ve heard good things about Wichita and Chicago. I think Chicago is a lottery entry system.

  2. Carb loading the day before the day before is better. Trying to carb load at dinner the night before a race means doubling that number of times you use the bathroom before the race 😛 your body needs time to store those carbs and digest all that fiber

    Halfs are long – don’t let a bad mile or two make you think you’ve blown the whole race. It’s a pacing game. I think all of your tips were spot on! Great post 🙂

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