Monday, August 26, 2013

So You Want to Run a Half Marathon...

Now first things first, I am no expert on running.
I have had several people ask me why I ran a half marathon and how I did it.
This is me telling you how I did it, why I did it, and what I would tell you to do if you ever decide to do it.  But you have to know that everyone is different, everyone's bodies are different, and everyone's mentality is different.  What worked for me, might not work for you.

0.0 to 13.1
In high school I ran track, sprints, not long distance.
I have tried several times to get into running, but I would get side aches really fast and just decided that running long distances was never going to be something I would be able to do.
So why did I decided to do it?
I wanted to feel the sense of accomplishment.  I wanted to set a goal, work for it, and reach it.  Yes, it was hard, it was really hard.  Running just really isn't something I look forward to.  Sounds weird doesn't it?  Since I had to run... A LOT to train to run A LOT.
What I loved was the feeling I felt once I was done. I came home and would think to myself, "I just ran 8 miles.  I just ran 8 miles before most people even got out of bed this morning."
Yes, I started out slow, and I wanted to give up A LOT.  I would start a run around the block and would have to stop because I was out of breath or because I had a side ache.  I kept on thinking, maybe running isn't something everyone can do, maybe you have to have the right body for it and I don't have it.
Never give up

I seriously had to talk myself out of thinking that way.
I can run, I can do it.  It might take me a long time, but I can do it.
1 mile turned into 2 miles.  2 miles turned into 4 miles. 4 miles turned into 5 miles.  5 miles turned into 8 miles.  8 miles turned into 10 miles.  And 10 miles turned into 13.1 miles.
I started training about 7 months before my race.  Thinking I would need that long.  I didn't.  I kept on pushing myself and pushing myself.  I pushed myself a little too hard and got runners knee.  But I was able to run 13.1 miles 9 weeks before my race.  And after that I was burnt out.  It was hard to get me out the door running but I knew I had to if I wanted to keep up my endurance and if I wanted to improve.  The first time I ran 13.1 miles it took me 2 hours 32 minutes.
I got runners knee four weeks before the race and was so mad.  The only way to let it heal is to rest. Rest, when I still had to train! Well... I guess I was a little happy, I didn't have to force myself to run.  But was I going to be in as good of shape for the race if I had to rest for 2 weeks?  Once I rested it and got back into running it did slow me down.  But I wasn't going to let it stop me.  I was going to finish that race even if I had to walk the whole thing.
Then came race day and I was running 9 minutes miles for 9 miles! Then I had to walk every now and then.  But I beat my goal and ran it in 2 hours 17 minutes.  I cut my time off by 14 minutes from the first time I ran it!
Yeah, people can run a half marathon in an hour and a half.  So? It's still the same distance.
I had a hard time convincing myself of that too.  The week before the race I was getting so nervous, thinking I had to run it as fast as I could in order to impress people and to be proud of myself.  My husband had to talk me out of that mentality.  13.1 miles is impressive no matter how long it takes.  And like I said, peoples bodies are different, and that is fine!

So now for the training. I trained for seven months off and on.  But this was the schedule I printed off.
I was thinking that I would do each week on the schedule in two weeks.  So instead of a 10-week training schedule I would do it in 20-weeks.  You are only supposed to increase your mileage by 10% each week or else you can get injured and get runners I did.  I was really slacking on keeping up with the schedule because I knew I had so much time.  Then summer came and there were 3 months until the race that I went from 4 miles to 8 miles to 10 miles to 13.1 miles.  And I still had 9 weeks left! So not a smart move there.  Next time I will start training 3 to 4 months before the race.  For now I am going to keep running to stay in shape, but probably not that long of distances.
I am not an avid stretcher.  When I did my long runs my hips would hurt for a few days after.  So when you train, stretch.  Stretching is always good for your muscles before AND after you run.
Also, drink a lot of water. Always.  
Muffin Top-Less
When you feel thirsty that means you were dehydrated before that.  Keeping yourself hydrated also helps you on your runs.  Drink two glasses of water about 2 hours before you run and 8oz. right before you run.  If it's a long run take some water with you.  I always thought that drinking water right before I ran was what caused me to get side aches but I found out it was because of the way I was breathing.
Study how you breathe.  People told me that if you have a side ache breathe in longer than you breathe out.  And other people told me the opposite, breathe out longer than you breathe in.  So I did some research.  Here is a pretty good article that you should read.  
As well as breathing you should really focus on your posture.
Important tips on proper Running Form. Makes a big difference...
Also, invest in a good pair of running shoes.  Go to a running place that does feet analysis.  They will help you find what kind of shoe works best for you.  Then they will bring out however many pair you need until you find a cute one that you feel comfortable in.

One of the hardest parts is staying motivated.  What I did to keep me motivated was I found a few quotes that I like on pinterest, printed them out and put them in our bedroom.  I also printed off the training schedule and crossed off each checkpoint.  Also, I have a really great husband that would convince me to go running when I really, really didn't want to (which was a lot).
You know what else keeps you motivated? Cute work out clothes, and that's the truth! 
Is it weird that all I want to buy now is new work out clothes?  Not only are they super comfy but you can find some pretty cute stuff out there.  I want one closet for my work out clothes and another for my real life clothes.
And now the hardest part. The mentality.
This is where I struggled and still struggle the most.
If you believe you can, you will.  Every bad thought you have about how you don't think you can do it or you are so tired you want to turn around and go back home just substitute it for another thought.  Think to yourself, I can do this, look how far I come.  If I go home now I'm going to regret it tomorrow.  That seemed to get me through sometimes, other times I just gave up and I did end up regretting it.  And like I said, I still struggle with it.

Now to wrap things up, here are just some quotes for inspiration and motivation.

don't let time pass you by. Yes! Even if you suck!  Eventually it's not going to!

Competing with yourself 
If you have any comments or questions go ahead and ask, I'll do my best to answer.

Up next: Energy Gels - Which One Should I Use?


  1. Thank you so much! I have been trying to find a good article about getting into running and this just really hit the spot. I stumbled upon your blog via pinterest. I seriously am going to go on a run today! Keep up the good work and congrats on your first half marathon! That is quite an accomplishment!

    1. I'm so glad I was able to help! And thank you!