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Run Your First Half: 5 tips for running your first half marathon

Running your first half marathon can be really intimidating if you don't know where to start. With race season just around the corner now is the time to get your training schedule down! The city of Austin has some incredible half and full marathon races this fall and winter don't let these pass you up just because you're a novice racer.

Check out these 5 tips for running your first half marathon!

Tip 1: Wear the right shoes

Having the right shoes for any race is extremely important, but sometimes finding the right shoes can be difficult if you don't know what you need. Here are my suggestions for running shoe shopping:

  • Look for a shoe with a large toe box so that your feet have room to expand while you run. You can also buy a half size up from what your normal shoe size is. This will help to avoid annoying injuries like bunions and blisters.

  • Make sure it's a running shoe built for the distance you're going. This may seem like a given, but big name brands like Nike and Adidas make a lot of sneakers that are NOT made for running.

  • Go try them on. Unless you know the exact shoe make and model you run well in I always suggest going to your local running shoe store (not just the closest Academy Sports) to get a gait analysis and quality suggestions from people who really know running shoes.

I used to be a big Nike and New Balance girl until I found On. I'm a big fan of On. I've completely switched all of my road, trail and hiking shoes to on because they're high quality, and they're extremely light weight. For the longest time the Swiss company exclusively made running shoes and have only recently started testing out other sports shoes. They've got running shoes for every distance and even different paces.

My On road shoe of choice is the Cloudstratus.

I like how sturdy, yet soft they are. They're not overly cushioned and my feet feel incredible in them. While I was training for my last half I was having some serious pain in the tops of my feet. When I switched to the Cloudstratus the pain went away within 3 days. You can check them out by clicking this link: CLOUDSTRATUS

Tip 2: Warm up before every run Even the short ones

You've likely heard that a proper warm up will help you combat injury, but a quality warm up does so much more than that. Tell me if this sounds familiar, you typically do about 5 minutes of quad, hamstring and calf stretches, and then take off for a very slow and creaky mile run to warm up before continuing to run. And it's not until the middle of your 3rd mile that you really feel warm and ready to push the pace. Be honest. Is this you?

Team, I'm here to tell you that you are wasting miles. It's not wrong too warm up that way just inefficient, and maybe a little painful. If instead, you spent 15 minutes doing some dynamic movements like skips, pogo hops, hip circles, walking high kicks and lunges your body would be ready to run on your first mile instead of the middle of your third. You will have a much more quality and likely faster run this way.

I've previously written an entire blog post on warming up before your run which includes a 12 minute warm up video that you can follow along with HERE

TIP 3: train with a friend

Training for a half marathon takes many hours of dedicated running. It's a slow and steady process that requires months of prep work which can get daunting at times. It's easy to fall out of motivation if you're going at it alone.

When you have a friend or a group to train with it makes staying consistent and accountable not only easier but also fun! You're much more likely to stick out something hard when you have a team who's running with you every step of the way.

If you're looking for a training group I suggest looking for a local running club and checking out Delta Performance. Delta Performance is a running program that I spent years creating to give runners of all levels the tools they need to successfully run whatever distance they desire. The program is completely virtual so it can be done anywhere! It has guided runs, runner strength and yoga classes and built in recovery. The program also includes 1-1 coaching consultations, a motivational facebook community and group training conversations so that athletes can learn from one another.

We're a tight knit group of runners and many of us are running the Austin Half and Full this year. Some of our teammates from out of state are even flying in for the race! We're getting a big Airbnb the weekend of the race so we can all shake out, carb load and prepare together!

And if you're an Austin local we have running meet ups on Thursdays at 6:30p and will be starting long run training at the beginning of October! If you have questions about how to join shoot me a message here or on Instagram!

Tip 4: Give yourself plenty of time to train and prepare

It never fails. I always get calls from runners wanting to run their first half or full marathon a month maybe two before the race. They usually haven't done any sort of training other than the occasional 5k and they're asking me if I can get them to the point where they can run the whole thing without stopping and staying injury free.

The answer is no. That's a lot of mileage that needs to be crammed into a very short amount of time. You are very likely to get an injury from training like that and it's not nearly enough time to train your cardiovascular and muscular endurance to be ready to run that far without stopping.

I highly recommend giving yourself anywhere from 4-6 months to train for your first half marathon. If you're fairly comfortable running 4-6 miles you can likely get ready for a half in 4 months. If you're new to running definitely give yourself close 6 months of slow progressive training to get your body prepared for the race.

If you're an Austinite (or want to fly in for the race) who is contemplating running the Austin Half or Full this February now is the time to commit and get a training plan in order!

Tip 5: Follow a training plan

There are thousands of running programs out there to follow. There's Couch to 5k, Hal Higdon, Delta Performance and countless more. Do a quick search on Google and you'll get bombarded with all kinds of programs from hundreds of running coaches across the globe. It may be a little overwhelming to sort through them all. Here what I suggest to look for in a program:

  1. Does the program actually give you strength work to do? Or does it just say STRENGTH DAY on the calendar and leave you to figure it out yourself.

  2. Do you get to talk to the coach who wrote the program and ask questions/receive feedback? If you're running your first half you're probably going to have tons of questions as you train. Does the coach give you the opportunity to get your questions answered or is it just a cheap PDF calendar that you have to figure out yourself? AVOID!

  3. Make sure the program gives you specific recovery work to do during your training. Some programs will literally run you into the ground.

  4. Check the credentials of the coach who wrote your program. Do they have credible certifications or are they just a running enthusiast?

  5. Last and most important, make sure it's something you will stick with. There's no point in paying for a program if you're not going follow it.

Are you ready to start training for your first half?

I hope you're feeling confident in signing up for your first half! There is something so addicting about running a half marathon. The months of training that lead up to the big day, the crowds cheering you on and encouraging you along the route, the emotions that fill your body when you cross the finish line. It's truly something special to experience.

There's nothing quite like completing a half marathon and if this blog has given you the nudge you needed to sign up for your first race please leave me a message below! As a coach, nothing brings me more joy than knowing that I've had a hand in helping someone accomplish something new.

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