This post is a little late, but better late than never! Last month, I completed my second half marathon and set a new personal record of 2:23:40!
I loosely followed the Disney Princess Half Marathon Training Program and ran with my usual walk/run method. I ended up running most of the race with a 4:1 run/walk ratio.
After running two half marathons, I’ve learned a few lessons:
1) Find a pace you’re comfortable with and stick with it as much as possible. For me, that’s usually a 3:1 or 4:1 run/walk ratio. For you, it might be a steady run. Test different methods out, and stick with what works! If you need to go off your pace for a few minutes or take a longer walking break during training, that’s perfectly fine.
2) Bad training is not necessarily indicative of a bad race! I had some of my worst long runs ever during my training for this second half marathon. I had multiple runs where I needed to sit down on the side of the path and take a break for a few minutes. Because of this, my goal for this half marathon was just to finish it, knowing that I likely wouldn’t PR or even finish close to my time from my previous half. Not the case! Train the best you can and on race day – don’t sell yourself short! I am so glad that I decided to at least try my 4:1 ratio and not settle for a slower pace on race day.
3) A training plan is just that – a plan. Sometimes you have to adjust your plans, and that’s okay. If you miss a scheduled long run, just run it as soon as you can fit it in. Even if it’s a week later. Being off schedule by a week or two will not ruin your training as long as you’re still running at least a couple of times each week.
4) Training through the holiday season is hard. I love to train in the winter because in Houston the weather is generally great for running in the winter months. But the holidays are often busy and involve going out of town. I thought I would be able to continue my training when I flew to New Hampshire for a week. Snow really got in my way! Most people also tend to eat more unhealthy foods during the holiday season, which can make it hard to wake up and run in the morning. I’d suggest planning for training interruptions if your training plan includes the month of December. If you get off schedule, just don’t give up!
5) If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My Asics GT 2170s successfully took me through my first half marathon. When I was long overdue for new running shoes, I figured, why not try something new? I fell in love with pretty turquoise and pink Mizunos and the running store told me my stride was great in them. Then I got shin splints. Luckily I ordered the shoes from an online running store that allows you to run in the shoes for up to 90 days and return them if you don’t like them. I ended up buying another pair that, yet again, did not work for me. Then I tried the successor to the 2170s, the Asics GT 2000s. Bingo! No problems. Sometimes, it’s even worth buying multiple pairs of a shoe that works for you in the case that they discontinue the model. When the GT 2000s went on sale in hot pink (my favorite color), I bought a second pair. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
6) Compression socks and compression capris work for recovery. Wearing compression socks while running does not work for me and makes my legs cramp up. But, wearing compression socks and capris after a long run helps my muscles recover so much faster. Every time I run more than 6 miles, I come home and put on my compression socks and CWX Stability Tights (or as Luke refers to them, my alien pants!). I often even wear them to bed. They work!
7) Long runs are almost never very fun, but there’s nothing better than knowing you just finished a long run. Long runs can make even the worst days better, because hey, you ran 10 miles that morning and that’s something to be proud of!
8) After you run your first half, you will feel incredibly accomplished but may think you will never run another. A few days (or hours) later you will likely change your mind!
If you have any questions about running a half for the first time or are more curious about my training, feel free to contact me or comment!