Interested in training for a half marathon? Or maybe just a 5k? Awesome! Running is one of my favorite ways to stay fit and healthy. It’s what got me into fitness nearly 10 years ago and led me to where I am today. Needless to say, running will always have a special place in my heart!
In the past 10 years, I’ve run four Ragnars, dozens of 5ks, a few 10ks, and one-half marathon. (Soon to be two!) I have trained specifically for each and every one of my races. I would consider myself an authority on the subject but I AM NOT A RUNNING COACH.
These are my best tips that have been tried and tested to help you get started with your own training, but If you really want to be competitive in your running I would suggest hiring a running coach to help you reach specific goals.
Let’s dive into my top tips for training for a half marathon!
1. Invest in the Right Pair of Shoes for YOU
This is probably the most important step before jumping into half marathon training. You can either make or break your training with the shoes you choose to run in! Do your joints a favor and take the time to get a good shoe.
That being said, there is no one perfect shoe for everyone. If your buddy says “This shoe is the best” that is probably only true for THEM!
Don’t be grabbing a ratty pair of Nikes from the back of your closet either. Go to a running store and have the experts there evaluate how you run and what type of shoe will work best. I prefer a minimal shoe while my dad prefers a super cushy shoe. We all have different feet shapes and run differently.
2. Wear Comfortable and Appropriate Clothing
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people I see wearing beanies and jackets in 100-degree heat and shorts and no shirt when it’s 30 degrees and snowing. Apparently, it’s not common knowledge?
Always check the weather before your runs and wear something appropriate. Take into consideration that your body will heat up, but your fingers and ears could still get cold and that hats trap heat. Wear things that are comfortable and that won’t rub or chafe in the all the wrong places.
Personally, my go-to running attire in summer is running shorts, this amazing bra with the phone pocket, and a tank top. I like to keep it simple and minimal! (Use code FITANDWELL to get a discount on the bra!)
3. Start Small
If you’ve never run a mile before, don’t hop off the couch and try to run seven miles. It’s important to slowly build up your mileage and endurance to avoid injury and burnout.
How far can you run right now? Add 1 mile more next week for your long run. If that feels too hard, keep at that distance for your next long run. Start small and be patient with yourself! Gradually over time, your body will adapt and the longer distances will become easier. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it!
4. Include Strength Training
When you’re training for a half marathon, it can be easy to ignore any other type of exercise besides running. While getting your mileage in each week IS the most important thing while training for a race, you don’t want to ignore strength training.
Long distance training can eat away at your muscle so you’re going to want to do whatever you can to preserve that muscle. Eating enough carbs so your body has energy and incorporating some resistance training will help you preserve that precious muscle.
You don’t have to lift super heavy each day, I don’t recommend that at all! Just pick 2 or 3 days to do some basic weightlifting to hit all your major muscle groups. Don’t overdo it, your goal is preservation, not growth and you don’t want to be sore for your runs. This cross training will help you become a stronger runner too!
5. Make Room for Recovery
Running long distances takes a lot of energy and can be very hard on your body. Don’t make the mistake of overtraining and be sure to include rest and recovery days in your training program.
Make sure you warm up properly and stretch after every run. You can prevent shin splints and sore muscles just by stretching and cooling down properly.
Especially focus on tending to your hips, hamstrings, calves, and quads as they will tend to tighten up the fastest.
6. Don’t Forget a Healthy Diet
Running a long distance race is NOT an excuse to eat crap. Yes, you should be eating enough carbs and calories to sustain your increased activity, but that doesn’t mean you should eat a whole box of pop tarts. Quality food still matters when you’re training!
Do you best to eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and avoid overly greasy foods. (They will come back to haunt you later 💩) Limit your processed sugars, although if you’re in the middle of a 12-mile run a few gummy bears can help you pick up your energy to finish your run.
Hydrate plenty the day before a long run, during if possible, and after. Water is going to be your new best friend!
Will training for a half marathon help me lose weight?
It’s possible to lose some weight while training for a half marathon, but if your main goal is to lose weight I would suggest cleaning up your diet, weight training, and HIIT over long distance training.
Think of professional distance runners. They are skinny and have very little muscle mass. It works for them because it’s their job to run at the most efficient level possible. But is it the best for overall health? Probably not. So if your main reason for wanting to run long distance is to lose weight, you’re going to do better with other forms of exercise and a healthy diet.
Are you currently training for a race? Let me know in the comments! Happy trails!