Tips & Tools for Half Marathon Training

Before February 2012, I had never run a half marathon – or even more than 6 miles, for that matter. I remember the first time that I ran more than 6 miles; the excitement I felt, in knowing that I was training to run 7.1 miles more. Breaking the 10 mile mark was one of the best milestones I’ve had so far. The achievement oriented side of my personality gleefully celebrated the fact that I could even brag to someone that I had run 10 miles in one day.

 

Running didn’t come completely naturally, but a few factors helped me complete my first half marathon and finish in a decent time:

half-marathon-jen-after-the-race-2012

Exhausted but smiling after my second half marathon in Napa Valley, CA. It was a hot day and I managed to mess up my knee about half way through – though still finished in around 2 hours 25 minutes.

 

* A Hal Higdon training plan [yes – for those people who were like me and didn’t have a clue about how training works, getting into shape means planning to run. If you’re like most people who might not be able to instinctively feel how long you should run each time you go out and want to reach a certain mileage goal, a training plan is essential.]

 

* Journaling my training plan [adding on to simply having a training plan, the next step is keeping track of what you’re doing. By creating a simple Google spreadsheet, you can create a calendar and for each week, separate rows for “Planned Exercise”, “Actual” and “Notes” so you start to track and reflect what is contributing to successes or failures.]

 

* A running buddy [for me, half the battle is getting up on a weekend morning, getting in gear and starting. Having someone else strongly encourage you definitely increases the success that you’ll actually get out there.]

 

* Diet changes [though not necessary, I challenged myself to go 2 months without ingesting caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol. Though it was rough, and I didn’t have 100% success, this temporary challenge helped to guide me to better food choices. Plus, never having the excuse for hangovers means it is a lot harder to miss weekend runs!]

 

Of course, apps are great for tracking distance and pace; RunKeeper is one of my favorites, though I generally like to leave my phone at home at this point in my running career.

 

My Fitbit One keeps me company and is great to be able to see actual distance.

 

To plan runs:

 

* Use Google Maps or USATF.com (USA Track and Field). The USATF website as of now is a bit easier to use; you can type in your zip code and draw out a route of where you want to run to figure out distance and elevation changes.

 

Feel free to comment below if you have any half marathon training tips. I’m contemplating a marathon in my future, but for now, the half marathon is a great challenge to get in shape and feel a sense of accomplishment.

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