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13 Life Lessons I Learned from My First Half Marathon

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UW Stout chapter.

This past weekend I ran my first half marathon. After months of training (which mostly consisted of a lot of running, eating, and sleeping), here are 13 lessons I learned from completing my first half marathon!

1. You can always go further than you think you can

There was a period of my life when I couldn’t run two miles without feeling close to death. If you would have told me then that I would be running 13.1 miles in a row, I would have thought you were crazy. As I built up my mileage, I always doubted if I could add an extra mile or two to my long runs. I had to push myself and had some “off” days, but I could usually up my mileage with extra training. Running is a mental sport and your legs can carry you a lot further and faster than you think they can.

2. Runger is real

All that extra running is going to burn a lot of extra calories. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating a huge lunch, only to have your stomach growl two hours later. You may have to change up your eating habits to get more protein and carbs.

3. The “runner’s high”

Your roommates are about to be really confused when you get back from an eight mile run and are dancing around the kitchen full of energy. Just wait until it’s 9 p.m. and you’re already in bed.

4. Sleeping is the best thing in the world

Speaking of going to bed early, I found that the more I ran, the faster and easier it was for me to fall asleep at night. This also meant I was better rested and didn’t have to drink as much coffee to stay awake in class.

5. You start to make yourself and your health a priority

It’s so much easier to turn down an unhealthy meal or a night out when you have a set goal. It’s also a great feeling to prioritize your runs and workouts to achieve this goal. You get out of running what you put into it, so don’t be afraid to make some changes to make sure you are running as best you can on race day.

6. Getting off track is okay sometimes, just make sure you can get back on

Maybe you had one day, or a week, when you weren’t eating as healthy or not getting enough rest. You may have missed a few runs because of your busy schedule. It happens to everyone, so don’t be afraid if you felt “off” for a little while. That’s what training is for. You’re not running a half marathon based on luck, you’re running it because you worked for it. As long as you get back on track, one “off” week isn’t going to effect much.

7. Running is a new adventure every day

Running is an amazing way to explore your neighborhood and surrounding areas. I’ve found so many interesting areas where I live through running. It allows you to see your town in a new way and explore new places.

8. You look like a huge nerd in your running gear

We’re bringing fanny packs back! Actually, more like running belts, but close enough. With the combination of running belts, hydration packs, headlamps, and other gear, runners make for a pretty interesting crowd. Hey, we have to find some way to carry all those energy gels.

9. You’re proud of each black toenail, weird tan line, and blister

You earned them, so don’t be afraid to show them off!

10. Stairs are still hard

I was hoping that with all this running, the climb to my third floor class would be easier. It wasn’t. I now have legs that can carry me for over 13 miles, but I still get out of breath walking up the stairs.11. Injuries and illness happen and taking care of yourself is important

During my training, I suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury and couldn’t run for nearly a month. I spent the day before my half marathon in bed with a bad cold. Injuries and illness can happen suddenly and without warning. Remember to stretch, ice, eat healthy, take a rest day, and don’t push yourself too hard. Your body will work better when you treat it right. Sometimes injuries are unpreventable, so when they do happen, let them heal before pushing it too far.

12. Be everyone’s cheerleader

Running is hard. Any encouragement, even from total strangers, can make a challenging run better. Whether you’re high-fiving a fellow runner on the race course or in your neighborhood, a little positivity never hurt anyone.

13. If you can make it through the first three miles, you can make it the rest of the way

I always heard that the first three miles are the hardest, but when you get past them, the miles somehow become easier. At a certain point, your body knows that all it needs to do is run. If you can keep going mentally, you can keep going physically.

Training to run a half marathon was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It took a lot of time, commitment to myself and the sport, and physical training, but crossing the finish line made it worth that.

Kendra Lamer

UW Stout '19

Kendra Lamer is the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at UW-Stout. She is a professional communication and emerging media major with a concentration in applied journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. When she's not doing school work or writing for Her Campus, you can find her dancing at the studio, going for a run, drinking coffee or decorating for holidays way too early. After graduating, she plans on pursuing a career in public relations or journalism and adopting lots of dogs.
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