How to Prepare for a Half Marathon

So, you made that leap. You decided that you were going to sign up for a half marathon. But what’s next? How do you prepare? Where do you start? In today’s health conscious society, more and more people are becoming interested in not only eating healthier but also becoming more active. Many of these people have begun running half marathons. I have run five half marathons, one 10-miler race and two 8k races. This November, I will be running in Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon with my dad, who is also an avid runner. I love running and I enjoy talking to others about running. So, I’m here to tell you the steps you should take to run your first half marathon.

Choose Your Race

This is the fun first step into preparing for your first half marathon. This is a big deal for you. You’ll be running 13.1 miles for the first time and receiving a medal at the finish of the race. Choose a race that fits your personality well. There are races all over the country in every state. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon series is a favorite of many. Walt Disney World also does a series of races including the Disney Princess Half Marathon, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the Half Marathon weekend that takes place every January. You’ll need to look at the sign- up dates for these races well ahead of time too because the Disney ones can fill up in under an hour.

Develop a Training Schedule

Next, you should develop your training schedule months ahead of time. Whether you want to begin training six months out, three months out or just one month out. You can find sample training schedules on running magazine websites such as The website for the race you are signing up for may also have training schedules available, so you should check those out. It’s important to train for a race and not go into it blind. The 13.1 running course is a long way, and you want your muscles to be able to stay active throughout this time and not get fatigued quickly. Training also helps with deciding how you should pace yourself throughout the run.

Buy the Right Equipment

It can be dangerous to run long distances in shoes that aren’t meant for running. Even if they are sneakers, they may not be running shoes. It’s important to get the correct type of running shoe because of the fit, support and the traction that the shoe provides. You don’t want to trip and twist an ankle while training for your run. You’ll also want to find lightweight running clothes if you are interested in training like a pro. Lightweight clothes are important because you’ll be less likely to overheat on hot sunny days, and you can cut seconds or even minutes off of your long distance runs compared to heavier clothing.


Now, with your schedule and equipment in tow, you will want to train, train and train some more. This is the time for you to learn about your own endurance as well as how far and how fast you can run in the beginning. You will build on this to work your way up to the longer distances as you follow the training schedules up to the week of the race.

The Night Before

There are quite a few things you will need to take care of the night before. You will want to eat a carb filled diet, such as pasta. You won’t want the meal to be necessarily heavy, so choose a red sauce over a white sauce. It’s important to have this build-up of carbs for the following morning when you will be running such a long distance. You will need to set an alarm for the next morning. Many races involve closed off roads, so they start very early. You may even need to be at the start of the race by 4 a.m. in some locations. You’ll also want to lay out your clothing for the morning, so that when you are drowsy and half-asleep, you’ll be sure that everything you need is already laid out.

The Race

Today’s the day! You’ll be ready to take on your first half marathon. Take a deep breath, and make sure you do lots of stretching before the run begins. Eat a banana before it starts for that boost of energy. Throughout the run there will be water stands and sometimes Gatorade or PowerAde stands. You’ll need to stay hydrated throughout the race, so make sure to grab a cup on the way by.

Enjoy your run, and have fun collegiettes!


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