I got into this half-marathon business when three of my housemates decided to run a marathon. I thought, “I can at least run a half.” So I signed up, and then there was no turning back. But I say in all honesty, if I can do this, anyone can.
I never had a dream or a goal to do a half-marathon. My thinking was more, “That would be a cool thing to do before I graduate.” But if you do have that goal, or if you even think it would just be cool to do – go for it. You can do it. I promise. With just a little determination and a lot of perseverance – you can do it.
I have a few things I’ve picked up along the way. You can take them or leave them. They might help.
1) Find a training schedule
Now, these do not work for everyone, as one of my housemates would attest, but I believe they do work for the majority of people. The individuals who make these are usually runners or marathoners themselves and so they have a good idea of how to slowly build muscle, when to relax, when to cross-train, etc. If you merely say, “I’m going to run for 3 miles everyday and then run a half marathon,” that is not likely to end well. You have to slowly build the muscle in your leg in order to build the endurance for a half marathon. So, I suggest a running schedule – the authors know what they’re talking about.
Some training schedules require cross training, some do not. Below are a couple examples of training schedules to give you some idea of the commitment. They are not overwhelming, but will require some of your time. (Most schedules are 10-12 weeks)
|10||Rest||4.5||3 or CT||5||Rest||9||CT|
|11||Rest||5||3 or CT||5||Rest||10||CT|
|12||Rest||4||3 or CT||2||Rest||13.1||Rest|
(CT = Cross Train – this includes swimming, biking, elliptical, or anything less impactful and focusing on different muscles than running)
(Does not have peak of training)
(These are not the “peak” or most intense weeks, those will usually cap at 10 – 12 miles on Sat)
2) Find a running partner
Once again, this is not necessary, but by week 4 or 5, it is incredibly helpful. Running partners aren’t so much about the socializing as they are about the accountability. It is even harder to bail on your schedule when that also entails bailing on another person.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Take care of your shoes, and take note of your shoes! If your shoes seem worn out – buy new ones. If you’ve had your shoes for more two years – buy new ones. Pay attention to how much you are running on those shoes – maybe even log the miles. No shoe is supposed to be worn past 300-400 miles. If they are old, track to maybe half of that. If they are new, track the miles (even if it is only loosely). Running is not an expensive hobby, but when the money needs to be spent, it’s vital.
4) Make a pre-run/post-run routine
Stretching is vital – especially in preventing no. 3. Always set aside at least 5 minutes before and after each run to stretch things out. Also find what areas you have that need stretching the most – what areas are most likely to be tight or sore for you and make sure you stretch those areas extra well.
5-10 minutes of leg stretches
5 minutes of heel and hip stretches
10 – 15 minutes of leg stretches
5-10 minutes heel and hip stretches
5) If something is hurting, look into it
I learned this one the hard way. Injuries happen, so don’t just ignore them. Before writing this article I sprained my ankle and figured it would just “go away.” Unsurprisingly, it didn’t. The quicker you get something checked out, the quicker you can start running again. I missed two weeks cause of this and I would NOT suggest that. You can go to the campus trainer if you get hurt and they are very helpful. Figure out what it is and then get back on that schedule.
Make sure you drink lots of water. Your run will feel much better if you do.
7) Just keep running
Finally, just don’t give up. If you want to do this, you can. Don’t hold yourself back. Everyday you’re supposed to run, just go run – and as long as possible just keep actually running. Even when you want to quit and walk, keep it at a light jog. On the days you don’t feel like it, at least plan to do a mile. Persevere. (As a side note, don’t continue running if you have actually injured yourself).
I hope these help and I hope this inspires some of you. Don’t let your mind get in the way of your goals.
There is a possibility I will be dragging myself across the finish line in April or I may be jogging with the walkers – or even being passed by the walkers. But I know I will be at a half marathon and hopefully will be able to say – I did that. I hope you can too!