Hi fellow COTHers, I could use some tips or words of encouragement!
I've signed up for my first half marathon at the end of September. The course is supposed to be flat and the temps that time of year in NH should be moderate.
I've been running just over a year now, but the longest race I've run is a 5K. I did too much too soon at first and ended up with some nasty shin splints. I worked with a sports doctor to figure out how much rest I needed as well as a rehab plan. So far so good. I have minimal shin pain that goes away quickly with just a little ice.
I have a pretty good training plan that I've been sticking to religiously, but I still get nervous about running that long. I also could use help in figuring out a good diet, I feel a little lost there.
Any tips, tricks, or things you can't live without? I'm super excited but want to make sure I'm covering all my bases.
I did 2 halfs this spring. Never ran before & started running in October. I trained 3 days per week and lifted weights 3 days. My weekday runs were only 3-4 miles, and I added hill sprints to my Tuesday runs. I also tried to run faster mile paces in my shorter runs. My long slow runs were on Sundays. Once I was able to run 3 miles, I added a mile every other week to my Sunday run. My longest run prior to my first half was 10 miles. I did a 2nd half 6 weeks later & trained to 12 miles for that one. My next half is in November.
Good luck! I did one last October and it was super-fun!
One of my suggestions would be to fit in a longer race, if possible, like a 10K or 10 Miler. It will help you "train" a bit, and you get more practice with your pace (since you typically don't run a 5K at the same pace as a half-marathon). Also, HONOR THE LONG RUNS. Do them every week, religiously. It's okay if you don't push yourself as hard during the week (or even skimp a bit here and there), but your long runs are very important to building up (and keeping) endurance.
Health-wise, I started getting acupuncture which helped tremendously! I adore (and trust) my acupunturist who knows way more about me than my MD. I got acupuncture right before my first half-marathon, and I finished my half-marathon and the next weekend I PR-ed my 5K. I also treat my body right (no wheat and very little sugar) and I try to eat correctly. I do notice a huge change when I'm eating well vs when I start to splurge. Running longer distances will make you more in-tune with your body. If you really listen to it, it will tell you lots! Best of luck
You'll get a lot of differing opinions regarding nutrition, but carbs are your friend if you're running longer distances. Your body needs those carbs, which are more easily converted into ATP which is what your body needs for energy.
I found that during my long Sunday runs, I would start to run out of gas around the 7 mile mark. I started using the Gu gels during my training runs at mile 6 (I simply stashed a water bottle and a gu gel at my mailbox and made a loop past the house at that time). I'm not a big fan of sugar (I do make a conscious effort to limit my simple sugar intake), but they really do help, don't taste awful, are easily packable into a pocket (I tucked one into the front of my sports bra during my last half), and can quickly be gulped at a water station.
Finally...remember that you're going to have some runs along the way that just suck. You'll question your training plan and say, "There's no way I'll be ready." You'll be surprised. I got sick 2 weeks before the first half I ran and I didn't do anything but cough and hack for the 10 days prior. I didn't run because I figured my body needed the rest more than it really needed to train. I simply had to trust that my training plan had been good enough. I felt great during the first 10 miles of the half, but struggled the last 3. Not suprising...I hadn't ever run past 10 miles and I had only been running for 5 months. The 2nd run was SO much easier and I took 10 minutes off my time.
Congrats! I just did my first half in February and it was awesome! I'd been a casual runner for years but never anything longer than a 5k race-wise. The big thing for me was to take it step-wise. I'd be out for a 5 miler and feeling like crap, thinking there was NO way I was going to be able to do 8 more miles, but you build slowly and before you know it 13+ seems doable! I finished my first half thinking maybe I'd try for a full, which is something I'd never dreamed of when I first started training. Good luck!
If your 1/2 marathon isn't until september, you'll have plenty of time to prepare. For this length, you will want to think about having Gu or some other energy gel while you run. That and liquids too. Practice eating and drinking the same stuff in training runs so your body is used to it and that it also becomes a mental habit.
Some people wear belts with small water bottles on them so they don't have to stop. That's a nice option for avoiding busy drink stations on the course. It also gives you the option for mixing your own concoction whether it be Gatoraid, Cytomax or other thing. Just be absolutely sure you are used to it, as in no new foods or drinks during the run. Use only what you've spent 3-4 weeks getting used to. There are certain sports drink mixes that my body tolerates well and some that upset my tummy. Something to watch out for as you are experimenting with different things. you may also want to considering watching what you eat during normal meals a few days before the race. Don't try anything new if you don't have a stomach made of Iron.
Out of all the races I've done, I think 5k's and 1/2's are the easiest. In the 5k, I just run hard from the get-go and figure the suffering will be over soon enough. The 1/2's are a bit longer than what I typically do (or did) so I *knew* I had to pace myself or I'd burn out and feel like crap. The 10k's were the most challenging because I had to work really hard to pace myself because I felt like I could go faster, but if I tried to start off at a 5k pace (my tendency) I'd burn out way too quickly.
I would focus on maintaining a steady pace and having a fun time. if you do get new shoes, also make sure you've used them for at least a few weeks before the race.
Other things: stay really well hydrated in advance of the race. One of the things that made a HUGE difference for me when I expanded to more intense stuff like 200+ mile cycling events, was to make sure I was getting an adequate amount of water and electrolytes the week leading up to the event.