Training for your first half marathon can feel like a daunting challenge. Questions like, “How should I pace myself?” “What will race day be like?” and “Can I even do this?” may come to mind. I experienced all of these concerns while training for my first half marathon several years ago. While my training and racing experience were far from perfect, I finished those 13.1 miles with a huge smile on my face. Looking back, here are 3 things I’m glad I did while training for my first half marathon.
1. I re-framed my expectations
As a former competitive athlete, I could have easily felt a lot of pressure to train for a “fast” half marathon. However, at that point in my life I was learning what it meant to have a healthy relationship with my body, food, and exercise. I started training for a half marathon as a way to enjoy exercise without worrying about how I looked or compared to others. Re-framing my expectations from, "I'm training to perform/look a certain way" to "I'm training to enjoy the ride" made my experience way more fun and positive. Instead of being stressed out or overwhelmed by my workouts, I looked forward to them.
2. I ran with a group during long runs
One of my favorite parts about my first half marathon training experience was doing my long runs with a group. I signed up for my race as a part of a charity fundraiser, and every Saturday morning I ran with other runners who were also raising funds. They were an amazing source of accountability and encouragement, especially as the runs got longer. I looked forward to the cheer tunnels we would make to welcome back every runner at the finish line. In my opinion, it’s those kinds of moments when you get to celebrate your accomplishments with others that make running such a special sport.
3. I followed a training plan
While training for my first half marathon, I was given a free training plan from the charity I was fundraising for. I was pleased to discover that the running workouts felt very do-able. They started with short, walk/run intervals that helped me get used to running multiple times per week without feeling overwhelmed. Over time, my endurance improved, as well as my confidence as a runner. I found myself completing 3 miles without stopping, and then eventually 10! I couldn't believe my progress, and was really happy to have found a plan that helped me discover what I was capable of.
If you’re looking for a plan to help you train and stay motivated for your next race, Heldie is here to help. We have lots of different training options to choose from including our Club Heldie app. There you can find beginner, intermediate, and advanced half marathon programs along with other training and nutrition resources. If you’re looking for something more tailored to your needs, you can also check out our customized running plans and 1:1 virtual coaching services.