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This past weekend was the annual Denver Half Marathon and my first attempt at a half marathon as well. Not only was it extremely rewarding, but it was also a blast. Long distance running is the ultimate feel-good activity, and whether you’ve never ran a mile or you’ve always been a runner, running in a race is a great accomplishment, and can be possible with some good tips and knowledge of what to do.
1. Which race is the race for YOU? There is a HUGE variety of half marathons to choose from, and they are spread all over the U.S. This means finding one close to you shouldn’t be a problem. Once you’ve made your decision, go online and sign up, because many of them will sell out fast!
2. TRAIN. PERIOD. Having a training plan is important, especially if you aren’t very experienced with long-distance running. In order to run those 13.1 miles on race day, you need to be prepared. I would recommend alternating between shorter runs and longer runs, while slowly increasing your distance over about 2 months before your big race. Speed training and stretching are key as well!
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3. Stick with it! During your training, there will be moments when you may feel like giving up. It’s so important that you push through these times and stay motivated, because your hard work will pay off more ways than you can imagine! Even if you skip a run or stop to walk, remember that there’s a reason you started training in the first place.
4. Hydration. Staying hydrated is vital to your success. Allowing yourself to become dehydrated, especially during a long run and in the dry Colorado climate, can cause you to get sick or cramp up. Drink a ton of water the night before running, the morning before running, and throughout running. Gatorade is also important in order to give you back electrolytes that you’ll be losing during the race.
5. FOOD. The foods you eat and when you eat them are vital to your performance during your first half marathon. The night before a race, have an early dinner of carbs (I usually do pasta) so you have enough energy the following day. I usually eat a banana about an hour before the race to give me a good snack and a quick energy boost before the run; plus, the potassium in bananas can help keep crams away! Eating the wrong foods or not eating can set your run up for failure.
6. MUSIC. Making a playlist for your race can be that one thing that pumps you up during moments of weakness. The right song can boost your speed and keep your motivation up to finish your race. Here are some great suggestions from Pinterest.
7. Running buddies! Running with others can get you excited to accomplish your goals. Meet a friend for that before-class run so you can’t skip it if you’re tired or feeling lazy. For even more incentives to run, join a running club that has set runs throughout the week.
8. Set a goal. Having a goal is essential to staying on course and will make you feel even more accomplished once your done. For example, my goal for my first half marathon was to run the whole thing without walking, and now my goal is to maintain a faster pace in my next race. Your goal can include anything you want to get out of your race!
9. Pose! If you’re running a large race, chances are that there will be professional photographers taking pictures the whole way. When you see them on the sidelines, make sure you smile and pose for the camera so you can get some awesome pictures of a day you’ll never forget.
10. GET EXCITED AND HAVE FUN!!! When your half marathon starts, people will most likely be crowding the sidelines with signs cheering you on. You and the sea of runners surrounding you will feel the insane excitement for what you are all about to do. Believe it or not, running this half-marathon will be a blast, and seeing the finish line couldn’t provide a better feeling. After your race, you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything. That runners’ high will be having you sign up for your next race before you know it.
Get started with these tips and good luck!