Half-Marathon Training Tips: 4 Keys To Success For Your First Half-Marathon

by Kim

marathons, nerves and fear, newbie mistakes, running, training tips

half-marathon-training-tips-by-iCanfoto.jpg As a triathlete in training, there are a number of reasons to participate in a half-marathon:

As you train for triathlons, it’s likely you will include running events like a half-marathon, or cycling events like riding a century. These events, including the triathlons themselves, will introduce you to new places, people, and experiences.  Source

So, now that you’ve got your heart and mind set on the goal of running a half-marathon race, the next question is how to start training for it…


4 Half-Marathon Training Tips

The task of running your first half-marathon can seem fairly impossible from the outset, particularly if you are going from the cushy life of a couch potato and are just starting to tie up the laces on your running shoes. Maybe you can’t even remember the last time you ran around the block!

First and foremost, congratulations on making a decision that will inevitably change your life. You have made a goal for yourself, and regardless of who you are, how old you are, or how much you weigh, you can accomplish your goal if you use these 4 tips:


#1 – Sign up… now!

The first thing you need to do is pick a half-marathon race at least 5 or 6 months out. Sign up for it now. By signing up now, you have made both the financial and mental commitment to be there with your race bib on and your laces tied the morning of the race.

Check out the Top 25 Half Marathons In The U.S.


#2 – Set a training schedule.

Ideally, you will have at least 2 (preferably 3) shorter runs during the week, and then one longer run. Look at your own daily routine and see when you will have time to work your runs into your daily schedule. Consider the need to run at least 20-40 minutes during your shorter runs. The length of your longer run will increase significantly over time — starting with perhaps a 30-40 minute run and eventually working up to 90-120 minutes, depending on your running pace. You absolutely need to allot enough time in your weekly routine to keep up with your training schedule.

Don’t stop at setting up a weekly schedule. Look at your training on a monthly basis as well, with your long run increasing in length at approximately 1 to 1-1/2 miles every other week. Keep in mind that many people who start out training for their first half-marathon can barely run a mile without stopping. Yet after you reach the point of running 3 or 4 miles straight, adding onto your mileage every other week will get increasingly easier. If you need to, think of your running in terms of minutes rather than miles for the first few weeks to get over your mental block with running a certain distance.


#3 – Run smaller races.

After you have your full training schedule outlined, consider picking up smaller races with lengths that coincide with your training. For instance, when you get up to 5 miles on your long run, substitute a 10K race for your long run that week. Then try your hand at a 10-mile race, and so on.

If you have never run in a race at all, you will be surprised by the difference it makes to run with a large group of people in a race environment. The runners can be incredibly encouraging and motivating. Often, runners find it easier to run in a race and may find their race pace faster than their training pace due to the “herd mentality” of keeping up with the group. This is not to say your 11-minute pace will instantly drop down to a 9-minute pace in the race. But it’s not unheard of to shave 20 to 30 seconds off your pace on race day!

Running in a few races will also make you a more confident runner, as you see that there are all shapes, sizes, and ages of runners who will be joining you at the starting line.


#4 – Get a partner.

Many runners find it difficult to train for a distance run without a partner. Distance running has a large mental component to it. Sure, you will teach your body how to breathe and conserve energy for a long run. And your body will teach you what you need to do to prepare it for the race — such as the proper diet, clothing, and so on. Yet some runners find that they can run miles upon miles with a partner next to them, but have difficulty finishing even a single mile on their own.

The reason for this may be different everyone. Perhaps you feel the peer pressure to continue running if someone else is present, rather than stopping to walk for awhile. Or perhaps having a partner there takes your mind off of running — especially if you can maintain a conversation while running.

However, it is highly important that you choose the right partner for you. First, make sure that you and your potential partner are running at approximately the same pace. Ensure you have the same goals, as well as the same motivation to achieve those goals. The last thing you want is to be someone else’s cheerleader on mile 12 of that 13.1 mile race! Nor do you want to constantly be having to get your partner motivated to continue with the training you started together.


There is absolutely no feeling quite like completing your first half-marathon. There is such a sense of accomplishment about setting a seemingly impossible goal for yourself and taking the steps to achieve that goal.

Good luck!

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