For many people, running a half marathon seems like a daunting task.
Good news: Not only is it entirely possible for a couch potato to run a half marathon, but it can be accomplished within 6 months!
Here’s everything you need to be ready for your first half marathon…
Start With Basic 5K Training Tips
As the name implies, the program helps runners work up to running a 5K, or just over 3 miles.
Most half marathon training plans assume that you can run 3 miles comfortably, so you can use the Couch-to-5K program to get comfortable with that distance.
From there, we’ll show you how amp things up with a half marathon training schedule, plus training tips to help you make a half marathon a reality.
Okay, let’s get started!…
Time vs Distance
The beginning of the program is measured in time, so a watch is needed to time your runs.
After the first couple of weeks, you can choose to use time or distance to measure your runs:
- If you want to make sure that you can run 3 miles by the end of the training program, use the distance option.
- If the distance seems like too much, use the timed approach.
If you choose the distance option, it can be difficult to measure until you figure out a system. At the beginning of the program, you can easily use a track to measure your
distance. As your distance increases, the track may seem very boring as you run in circles so it may be easier to run on the street for longer runs.
The change from running on a track to running on the road can be awkward for a new runner. People often feel insecure about running on the road because it may seem like only real runners are capable of that. However, if you are running, then you are a real runner!
Measuring the distance you’re running on the road can be a bit of a challenge. Some options for measuring the distance include:
- Google Maps (for iPhone or Android)
- MapMyRun (for iPhone, Blackberry, or Android)
- RunKeeper (for iPhone or Android)
- Garmin GPS watches (our tips for choosing the best sport watch)
Gauging time isn’t as difficult as measuring distance, but there are some tools to help with that as well:
- Couch-to-5K podcasts have music and cues that tell you when to run and when to walk.
- Apps for smartphones are also available to help you stay on track.
Common Newbie Challenges
Most runners never make it past the first few weeks of a running program because challenges inevitably arise.
One of the challenges many new runners face is not pacing their runs. People are often optimistic about how fast or how far they can run but it is important to pace yourself so that you can finish your runs.
Here are some tips for finding your perfect pace:
- Your Guide To Perfect Pacing
- Running Pace Calculator
- The Pace You Should Be Running For 5K vs Half Marathon
Another challenge that new runners encounter is issues with their shoes. Arch pain, shin splints, knee pain and many other ailments are often a direct result of having improper shoes. The most important purchase for a runner is good shoes. Go to a store that specializes in running shoes and have your shoes properly fitted.
Here are some tips for finding the right shoes:
- How To Find The Right Shoes For A Walking Event
- Types Of Feet & Types Of Shoes Explained
- How To Choose Running Shoes
Running clothes are another purchase you will likely make. Running stores are great for running shoes but it probably isn’t necessary to buy running clothes there. Affordable clothing options are available at discount stores and should be adequate.
Here are some tips for choosing the right running clothes:
- How To Choose Running Apparel
- Base Layer, Insulating Layer & Outer Layer Explained
- Choosing The Right Athletic Clothing For Your Body Type
Finish With These Half Marathon Training Tips
There are a few program options available. The amount of running and cross training will vary with each program, so choose the option that seems the most appealing to you.
Here are some good half marathon training schedules:
- Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Schedule: Novice To Advanced
- Cool Running Half Marathon Training Schedule For All Levels
- Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon Training Schedule
- Half Marathon Training Schedule For Newbies & Regular Runners
As mentioned previously, running shoes are the most important purchase for runners.
Half marathon training presents new challenges and new items to purchase:
- Good running socks are important for preventing blisters.
- A method of hydration, such as a hydration belt, is also a good idea because you need to stay hydrated on long runs.
- Having an mp3 player like an iPod to play music is optional, but preferred by most runners to help pass time — especially on long runs that can last for hours.
You’re Not Alone
Support from other people is an essential part of completing a successful long distance training program.
The challenges can be very difficult and a support system is essential to get you through the tough times.
You don’t have to train alone for your upcoming marathon.
Must read: Tips For Finding A Runners Group Online
Throughout your half marathon training, it is very helpful to sign up for some races so that you can familiarize yourself with the race process and give yourself milestones to
work toward. Having the smaller races completed will help you feel more comfortable when you run the half marathon.
After 6 months of training, the last few weeks before the half marathon can be grueling. The training is really difficult, especially for somebody who wasn’t active beforehand.
Run the race with the goal of completion, not to beat a specific time. The hard work you’ve put in over the last 6 months is impressive and you should be very proud of yourself for accomplishing such a big goal.
More Half Marathon Training Tips
I represent the non-competitive cyclists, runners, and swimmers of the group. I mostly write about all the ways that biking, jogging, and swimming are fun when you're not a serious athlete.