The thing I love about runners is that half of us don’t even consider ourselves runners. Seriously, if someone asks, I am not a runner. I’m convinced there’s some ceremony or test you must go through to earn that title. Yes, I’m aware that’s completely ridiculous.
For the percentage that joins me in the struggle to call themselves a runner: shut up (don’t be offended, I’m including myself in this). We are runners and we need to get over it. We love the ache after a long run, the training for a long race and the look on others faces when we tell them we went on a short 7 mile run.
Now that we’re all over our beginners fear, let’s tackle the next hardest part for beginning runners: training for your first half marathon. We’re all inherently wired to feel like beginners, so from beginner to beginner, here’s the deal on running a half marathon for newbies:
Pick a training schedule that works for YOU. If training becomes stressful and doesn’t seamlessly fit into your life, then you might fall off the track along the way. Do research and find a schedule that makes sense for your life.
Pick a race that will motivate you. Your first race is a big deal. Like a huge deal actually. Make it memorable and fun by picking a race like the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon or the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Your first race is about finishing. I promise that after your first race you’ll be hooked and have plenty of time to work on that PR for your second one.
Have fun with your cross training. Since you’re already into trying new things (hence the whole running your first 13.1 mile race), carry that attitude to your cross training. Running can be repetitive, so pick something fun like kickboxing or spin class. This ensure you don’t get bored of your workout routine for the next 12 weeks.
Join a running group. A running buddy is also acceptable. You know how girls can’t go to the bathroom alone? Pretend this is the same. Pick a running buddy and drag them along for the fun (unless it’s at 5 a.m. — that’s just mean).
Download podcasts. No, this is not a plug for The Running Lifestyle Podcast (okay, maybe a little, but you clearly already love the show if you’re reading this). I genuinely believe podcasts are an essential life saver during long runs. From fitness tips to murder mysteries to TV show recap talk shows, podcasts come in all shapes and sizes and will keep your mind from thinking about how treacherous mile 9 is starting to feel.
Train your body and your mind. Sure, you will physically train the 12 weeks or so, but during that time you need to train your mind too! Train your competitive brain to chill and maintain pace even when it seems like everyone and their grandmother is passing you at mile one, train your brain not to be a self-deprecating negative Nancy and train it push through the hard last few miles like a champ. I can’t stress this enough — make sure you’re mentally prepared for the 13 miles.
Tell everyone! The second you sign up and pay for the race, it becomes sorta real. The second you start telling people outside of your immediate family, it’s sinking in that you might actually have to run this thing, but once it’s on social media, it’s basically set in stone. Don’t let yourself back out — tell everyone about your big goal. You never know, it might inspire others to join you!
Make a playlist for race day. Podcasts are great to trick yourself during your training, but on race day, you’ll want to really experience everything. Make a crazy motivating playlist and run with it. There will be plenty of racers dressed up and spectators with entertaining signs to keep you occupied. Soak up your first race like a sponge and treasure it forever.
There you have it, newbie to newbie, I promise the 13 miles are not that horrible (okay, maybe the last mile is). Go out there, run a ridiculous amount of miles, appreciate the easy days, get through the hard ones, listen to some cool podcasts and have fun!
Oh, and by the way, the second you cross that finish line, you’re a runner. It’s official. It’s okay, it took Harry a while to believe he was a wizard, too.