I did it!
I survived my first half marathon– 13.1 miles– something I could have never imagined doing just a few years ago.
It wasn’t pretty or easy (thinking of you, side cramp at mile 12), but I pulled through and couldn’t be more proud of myself! Now that it’s all over and I’ve had a few days to recover, I’ve come away with four key lessons.
(Please note this my personal experience, I’m not a doctor or athletic expert.)
1. Don’t Skimp on Training
For a variety of reasons (the pandemic keeping me out of the gym, I don’t own a treadmill, it was too hot, it was raining, etc.), I didn’t train as much as I should have for my first half marathon. I knew this deep down, but I figured I would somehow get through- and I did. But I think those last four miles would have been a lot more bearable if I had put in more training time.
I definitely needed more short, slower runs in addition to my long run of the week. I also wish I had done a few longer runs at 11 or 12 miles (I only reached 10 miles prior to race day). I think if I had done this in addition to my other workouts (highly recommend Cassey Ho and Blogilates!), I could have saved myself some pain. That said, I surprisingly wasn’t sore after?
2. Don’t Wear A Cotton Shirt
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
If you’re running in the cold and wearing a cotton shirt, your sweat doesn’t dry right away… instead, you find yourself wearing a shirt drenched with cold sweat. It makes for a rather chilly, unpleasant experience.
I would highly recommend wearing sweat-wicking gear going forward, especially if you’re doing an event as long as a half marathon.
3. Know What Pace Your Aiming For & Stick With It
Whenever you start a race, it’s so easy to get carried away with the crowd. But if you give it all in mile 1, your remaining 12 miles are going to be rough. Know what pace you can comfortably run long distance and do your best to stick with it. (My Garmin Forerunner 245 was a huge help with this.)
On a related note- your best pace might come through a combo of walking and running. (This article on Runner’s World gives a breakdown on how to do that.) I tried to run as much as I could, but in the end, runners who had done a combo of walking and running ended up crossing the finish line before me. This is definitely a strategy I want to consider trying in the future.
Final Thoughts on My First Half Marathon
Choosing to do a half marathon is a big deal, so make sure to celebrate! Even if you didn’t get the time you want, running 13.1 miles is an achievement in itself. Personally, I didn’t set any time goals for my first half marathon, but now that I’ve covered some long distances, I do want to focus more on speed.
If you have any advice on how to shave down your mile times, please leave a comment below!
Want more thoughts on running? Check out the 4 Lessons I’ve Learned About How To Become A Better Runner.