Your First Half Marathon: 8 Tips to Survive

June 14, 2017

You’ve reached that time in your life where you have a calling to attempt the half marathon.  Maybe you have been running 3 miles a day for years but never push past that distance.  Maybe you haven’t run a mile in years  and you just feel the need to try something that seems unattainable at the moment.  Whatever the reason is, once you’ve decided to run a half marathon, and actually signed up for one, you are going to feel excited, hopeful, and possibly a bit nervous and unprepared.  Having participated in my fair share of half marathons now, here are 8 tips to help you survive your first half marathon!

1.  Give yourself enough time to prepare (8-12 weeks to train would be ideal).

There are many different training plans and schedules available, just search pinterest and you will find tons!  In the past I have used training plans as guidelines and fit in the training as best as I could around my busy life.  A breakdown of a typical training week could include:

4-5 days of short running workouts.  3-6 miles at a time or 30 minutes- 1 hour of running.

1 day per week for a long run.

Complete one long run each week at your “marathon pace”

If you are completely new to running and this will be your first half marathon, I recommend you complete your long runs at an easy pace.  There is a whole of science behind this.

Let me make it simple.  Find the pace at which you could still carry on a conversation if necessary.  Your half marathon pace is not likely to be the same as your fastest 10k pace.  It is probably a bit slower than your 5k pace as well.

You will need to build up the stamina to run 13.1 miles. Start at 4-5 miles and then add another mile each week.  You ought to run at a pace that you can sustain for your whole long run.  Your marathon pace is typically slower than your 5k or “fastest mile” pace.  It is the rate your body can run continuously for a long duration of time without bringing your muscles and system to a crashing halt.

 2.  Plan your race day gear a few weeks before.


Through your training take stock of the clothing that and accessories that are most comfortable and the least distracting. “Nothing new on race day” is always a good plan to stick to.

 3.  Proper running shoes are essential!

Early on in your training Avoid changing to brand new shoes any less than 4 weeks out from race day. You want shoes that are somewhat “broken in” but not worn out either.

Definitely hit up a running store to get fitted for your shoes.  Ordering the cutest pair of Nikes you have seen plastered all over your Instagram feed is not a smart move.  Unless they happen to be the same ones recommended by your running specialist.



4.  Don’t let the excitement of the crowd at the start of the race affect your pace.


It’s all good if they are passing you left and right during miles 1-5. You don’t want to push your pace so hard early on that you lose steam and slow way down in the second half.


 5.  Create the perfect playlist.

Assuming you even run to music of course.  You’re probably going to need at least 2 or more hours of music.  Try to align the bpm (beats per minute) to your goal pace.  There are many wonderful websites to such as this one to help you.

Personally, I try to save my favorite 5-7 songs for the end of the race, to give me something else to focus on when the going is getting rough.

 6.  Eat a light breakfast and plan your energy sources for the race.

Eating a light breakfast an hour or so before the event will give you time to digest a bit before the race starts and keep you from feeling too full.

Energy gels, gummies, and beans (my personal favorite) are a quick source of carbohydrate energy to sustain you during your run.  Try out different types of energy sources during your training to find what works best for you.

My typical energy plan is half of a Cliff Barr an hour before the race, half a packet of Jelly Belly Energy Beans before the race starts, then half a serving (sometimes less) of the beans about every 5 miles or so.

 7.  Have fun and make connections with other runners at the “after party.”

Most running events will have snacks and drinks at the finish line.  While you are waiting for you breakfast tacos, pizza, fruit snacks, and of course bananas, strike up a conversation with someone about how they felt about the race.  Ask them about their favorite races and what they have coming up on their running schedule.

If they have a photo background to take your picture, stand in line and the understanding person behind you will likely be willing to snap your pic.

Often times they have massage tables out, take advantage of that if you can stand waiting in the line.

8.  Wear your medal home and bask in your glory

Once everything is said an done on your first half marathon, find a special spot for that medal and then, sign up for your next event!



Have you run a half marathon before?  What tips would you add?






I am a runner and fitness fanatic who is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle 80% of the time. I live in Texas and divide my time between raising 3 children, teaching, and living a fit life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge