How to Run a Half-Marathon: Your First Steps

By Laurie Fanelli in Healthy Feeling

If you’ve ever wondered how to run a half-marathon, the answer may be easier than you think. Don’t get me wrong—it’s going to take a good amount of work (especially if you don’t really run), but with preparation, planning, and commitment, anyone and everyone can achieve the goal of completing 13.1 miles.

Training for a half-marathon involves both physical and mental strength. In this piece, we will discuss the ways to get started on a program that will make the process as rewarding as possible. In future posts, we will get into the ways to stay motivated throughout the running regimen, as well as the logistics involved with having a successful race day experience.

To begin, here are a few steps to take when preparing to run your first half-marathon!

Gear Up

It’s intimidating to take on a lofty goal like running a half-marathon, but having the proper gear to get the job done can make a world of difference. High-quality socks and sports bras will prevent blisters and/or chafing, and they will continue to hold up throughout the training process. Breathable shirts, comfortable shorts, and a good hat will keep you cool, especially if you’re planning on training for a summer event.

Picking out the perfect shoe is a key to successful training.

Above all else, a good running shoe is a key element when figuring out how to run a half-marathon. This is not the time to be a bargain shopper because all shoes aren’t created equal. My advice is to go to a running specialty store to purchase the best shoe for your foot and stride. Runners World Magazine is a great resource for finding more information on shoe shopping. Their step-by-step guide is specifically designed to help you make this pivotal purchase.

Pick a Plan

Before starting to train for a half-marathon, find out which type of running plan works best for you. Most cities offer running clubs, which are recommended if you’re a social runner, while gyms are a great place to log in some miles if you don’t want to worry about the weather. Typically, half-marathon training programs involve about 10 to 12 weeks of running various distances, so plan ahead to make sure you’ve allotted enough time to have a wonderful—and successful—race day.

Personally, I love the solitude of running throughout my neighborhood. I use Hal Higdon’s 12-week training program to make sure I’m running the proper amount each day, as well as taking the recommended rest periods, to prepare for race day. I also use an online mapmaker to create a custom course near my home. This makes it easy for me to ensure I’m meeting my daily, weekly, and monthly goals before getting to the starting line.

If a plan doesn’t work for you, don’t get discouraged! I’ve joined a number of running organizations, gyms, and training clubs before finding my perfect running routine. Nowadays, most gyms and running groups will let you try before you buy, so take a week to explore your options; you’ll be sure to find a program that works for you.

Focus on FlexibilityFlexibility in half marathon training is beneficial when it comes to crossing the finish line.

Now that you’re armed with quality gear and have your plan in place, forget about it!

Well, not completely, but don’t bog yourself down with so many rules and regulations that the training process becomes a cumbersome second career. Remember—you decided to train for a half-marathon to feel happy, healthy, and strong, so enjoy the journey.

If you’re supposed to run eight miles on Saturday morning, but your kids have a soccer game, simply move the long run to Sunday morning or whatever time works for you that week. Training programs are designed to give you guidelines to succeed in your goal, not to stress you out. By following a training program as best you can, and adjusting when necessary, you’ll find yourself one step closer to crossing that finish line after running 13.1 miles. Mission accomplished!

Now that we have a plan in place, next time we can explore tips and techniques for staying motivated (like running for charity and keeping your muscles loose with stretching) throughout the half-marathon training process. Do you have any suggestions on taking the first steps to begin distance running? Let us know with a #GoodMatters tweet @TomsofMaine! Happy running!

Image sources: Laurie Fanelli

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Running a half-marathon is a big accomplishment, and anyone can do it. By arming yourself with the proper gear and committing to a training program, you can go from sitting on the couch to running 13.1 miles in a few short months.