8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Running My First Half Marathon

Appears courtesy of Tara from Dashing In Pearls.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about what I have learned while my half marathon training and wanted to share with you! I hope these things help you out!

1. I should have allowed myself more time to train. I started in December and couldn’t even run a mile so I used the Couch to 5k plan to get me up to 3 miles then (loosely) followed a half marathon plan I found here. I didn’t give myself to build up the miles and I think that’s one of the contributing factors to my injury. I also didn’t have enough “buffer” time in case I got hurt and needed to take a little bit of time off, which I did.

2. I wasn’t realistic about how fast/far I would be able to run and when. Running comes naturally for some people but for me, it is hard. It’s something I’ve learned to love and my body now craves a good run but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for me.

3. Strength training is incredibly important. I did none of this and by the time I realized I SHOULD be doing it, it was too late. One of the things I’ve been doing over the last few days is looking up different exercises for strength training. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

  • P90X– I have the DVD’s and even though the guy kind of annoys me I’ve only heard great things about the program so I think I’m going to give it a shot again.
  • Yoga– I know there are a lot of yoga DVD’s out there and some are even on OnDemand on my TV. I usually get really bored with yoga but but found some “runners yoga” poses on runnersworld.com so am going to give those a try.
  • Weights– I don’t have a membership to a gym right now but there is a tiny one at my apartment complex that I can use. They have free weights plus a few machines. Some of the blogs I read have posted different weight training programs lately and I’m going to see what fits me the best.

4. I really miss having group exercise classes to go to. I think this would have helped with both strength training and the days that I didn’t want to run but wanted to do something. I’m not going to join a gym until I know where I’ll be living next year (our lease expires at the end of June) but you better believe that as soon as I find out, I’ll start looking for a gym!

5.CEP compression sleeves are amazing. I didn’t train with them and only bought them 2 days before my race because so many runners I respect have raved about them. I’ve had lots of shin splints during training and never had any problems with my shins during my half which was awesome. I also think I’ve recovered quicker because of them! (P.S. I’m no longer sore. My right heel still hurts a little though.)

6. Having someone to run with is awesome but make sure they’re around your pace. The few times I did run with someone who wasn’t my pace I ended up frustrated and was really hard on myself for not being able to keep up.

7. 13.1 miles is hard. That’s why not everyone does it. Don’t let anyone tell you it’ll be a breeze. However, the feeling of accomplishment I had after I finished was unlike anything I’d felt before (and I’ve won state water polo in high school) so it is totally worth it.

8. A support system is essential. I have an amazing family, boyfriend, and friends who have been supportive of me every step of the way. Having the blog community has also been amazing because I have a place to vent, ask questions, and relate to others who are in my same position!

Like I said in my race review, I will absolutely do another half marathon but I’ll change a LOT of things about how I train next time I do!

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