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Personal Essay: Preparing for My First Half Marathon

At the start of every new year, my family, like most families, has a tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. One of my goals for 2016 was to run my first half marathon. So in September I decided to finally make my goal a reality and I signed up for the Dallas BMW half marathon. I truly believe anyone can run a half-marathon, if they properly train for it. I had never run more than three miles at a time leading up to training, so every time I finish a long run, I shock myself with how much I have accomplished thus far.  

Honestly my main reason to run a half was FOMO. I have a lot of friends who have run halves in the past, and I felt I was missing out. Yet while training, I have realized how much I am truly doing this for myself. I have always been that kind of girl who enjoyed going to the gym, and grew up playing multiple sports. Now into my senior year of college, I have realized how much I truly missed training towards a goal. My goal during my 12 weeks of training is to run the entire race. In contrast while playing on team sports back in high school, the goals were naturally team oriented. It not only feels great to have a goal again, but to also have a goal that is truly my own.

There are many things to consider before starting to train for a half. Training takes dedication and time. Long runs can last up to two hours. I have to plan out my week of workouts, where in the past I was very willy-nilly about when I would hit up the gym. Now, I’m waking up early before class to run while the sun rises. I sometimes run on a treadmill, yet I find that running outdoors is more consistent with what I will be experiencing on race day.

There are countless half marathon training guides out on the Internet. I did a great amount of research before settling on one that included a long run every week (increasing by a mile each week), three short runs of about three to five miles, and two days of cross training. Hydration and stretching are key to surviving long runs. It is also important to have the right pair of running shoes, proper workout clothes, protein bars and energy gels.

My training guide:

I used to hate running the mile in middle school, so it is extremely bizarre to me that I now look forward to running. I look forward to seeing other runners out on Katy Trail in the morning, hearing my pump up playlist blast through my ear buds, and the runner’s high that lasts all day. I make sure to put my favorite songs on my playlist, and I actively choose not to listen to them unless I am running. That way it brings me even more joy while I am sweating out of every pore in my body.

A selection of songs from my Spotify playlist:

It is crazy how many people I have bonded with about training for the half. Like I said I have many friends who have done it in the past, or have even done a full marathon. They understand the sore legs, finding time for long runs during boulevard weekends and the struggle of making the perfect Spotify playlist. I say if you’re planning on training for a half or full marathon in the future, find a training buddy to keep you honest with your schedule and keep you motivated!


Catherine Lehman is a senior at Southern Methodist University studying Psychology and English. When she is not neftlixing or chilling in her sorority house she can be found at Nekter eating an Acai Bowl.
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