26 In Running

How To Train For a Half Marathon

Hello friends! Happy November! Thank you for all of the kind words on last weekend’s half marathon success! You guys rock! I’m slowly but surely getting around to responding to each of your comments!

One comment in particular asked for a post on how to train for a half marathon, or tips on preparing for a half marathon. So, this is that post! I was super excited to gather my list because I think the half marathon is my favorite distance, so far. I’ve only done 5 now, and don’t consider myself an expert by any meas, but each one has been a completely different journey, and each one has been equally as fun and rewarding!

But first, how was your week? Ours has flown by, and if they keep flying by this fast it’s going to be Christmas TOMORROW! One thing on our Christmas list this year is…

breaking bad complete series

the complete Breaking Bad series on Blu-Ray. We may or may not be guilty of everything on this list.Β November 26th, we will be hulled up by the tv, no doubt.

Ok, so ever since my race last Saturday I’ve been thinking a lot about my marathon coming up on December 7th.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 4.46.58 PM

I think I finally feel like it’s actually happening! It’s 5 weeks from tomorrow, and I am so excited, yet terrified! These next 5 weeks are going to be rough, challenging, and fulfilling. And when I cross that finish line as a marathoner, I know I will be so proud of all the hard work I put in and join the 1% of Americans who will ever finish a marathon! And I will forever be happy to tell you about it. No shame.


Just for laughs, be sure and check out this article: Top 5 Things To Hate About Marathon Runners.

Since I fell behind in my training thanks to that little thing called, “life”, my weekend schedule for the next 5 weeks has now shaped into this…

Nov 2- 14 miles

Nov 9- 16 miles

Nov 16- 18 miles

Nov 23 or 24- 20 miles

Nov 30- 10 miles


So, I’m gearing up for what will be the highest milage of my life! I’m praying for no injuries and that my body can handle it!

And now for today’s topic.


0. Because you can’t do ANYTHING else, without FIRST doing this: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Ok, now you can continue.

1. Pick a race you’re EXCITED about. It’s hard to get motivated for a race when you know you’ll be running a super hilly route, or a boring route, or a race you know nothing about! Be sure and register EARLY. Race prices are WAY cheaper if you register 6 months out, versus 2 months prior.

2. Tell the friends and family that will SUPPORT you, what your goal is. The more people you have asking you how your training is going, and who actually care, the more accountable you will be for staying on track. Some of your friends will think running is dumb and will never encourage you, so don’t let them be your support team. Surround yourself with positivity! Not everyone likes to run! And that’s ok! Not everyone will understand why you could possibly want to run 13.1 miles in one stretch.

3. Pick and research training plans. Customize it to fit your schedule. WRITE IT DOWN. Do it. I start with a Hal Higdon plan then alter what I need to.

4. Start your actual “training” once you can EASILY run 3 miles. Once 3 miles is easy, then you’re ready to start adding milage.

5. Purchase a cute new top or outfit to wear on race day. (optional but totally a good idea!)

6. Make sure your shoes are still in good shape. SHOES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING! If your shoes suck, so will your running. Spend some money on a good pair. You will be thankful you did!

7. Start running! Stick to your plan as best you can, but don’t get mad at yourself if something comes up and you have to miss a run. You can make it up, but make sure you DO make it up. And if you have an off run, shake it off and have an even better run the next time! We’re all human! And if it’s your first half marathon, just take it ONE MILE AT A TIME. It will only get easier!

8. I started out thinking I had to run 4 days during the week then a long run on the weekends, but now I probably run 2, MAYBE 3 times during the week and a long run on the weekends. If I do much more than that, I’ve learned that it only burns me out quicker and makes me feel exhausted all the time! Now, I like to do one fast run (faster than goal pace), one easy run, and one long run. But that’s what works for me, so you will figure out what your body likes and doesn’t.

9. I run when it works for ME. As much as I would LOVE to be able to hop out of bed at 5 am and get my run in then, I just can’t do that. At least not right now. So, I make sure and carve out time for my run right after work, and then on Saturday morning. Don’t try to run someone else’s running schedule. When race day comes, all that will matter is the training that YOU did and if you make it inconvenient, you’ll never train in the first place.

10. Eat healthier, don’t drink sodas, only drink water, no junk food.

11. HA. Was #10 a joke?

12. Still working on that. Point is, just because I run a lot doesn’t mean I also have the perfect diet! I TRY to eat as best I can, but I’ll be the first to admit my diet could use some work! So, don’t get bogged down in whether or not what you eat every single day is okay or not. You will eat crap every now and then! We all do! Just be aware that everything you put in your body WILL affect your running, one way or another!

13. Speaking of diets, while you’re training for a half marathon, now is NOT the time to ACTUALLY “DIET!” You will be burning so many calories, and your body needs as much fuel as possible! So yes, I just might order TWO bagels at Panera.

14. Get over the mental blocks that are 8 miles and 10 miles. For some reason, those two marks have always been hard for me! On race day, I’m good. But during training, an 8 miler and a 10 miler always seem tough.

15. Decide on your long run nutrition, practice with it, and do it the same way on race day. You need to do your long runs as if they’re race day. Practice wearing the same outfit you’ll wear on race day, practice with the same Gu, Shot Bloks, Clif Bars, etc. that you will use on race day, eat the same thing for breakfast as you will on race day, do your hair the same way you will on race day. Point is, you don’t want any surprises on race day. I am never worried about getting a stomach ache or my hair falling down or my shorts riding up because I’ve already done a long run with all of these things the same. THE ONLY THING YOU CAN’T CONTROL ON RACE DAY is the weather, and other runners. And your body. But try not to think about that last one too hard. You’ll be fine!

**I can’t recommend how many calories, etc. you need to consume during long miles, but I’ve figured out that if I don’t consume something, my potassium gets low easily and I cramp really bad and I know that if my electrolytes get too out of whack, I get fainty feeling easily. So, figure out how you feel on long runs, experiment with your nutrition and hydration, and do what makes you feel best. (Most things will have the advised amount you should consume after so many minutes of exercise)**

16. Foam roll. Foam roll. Foam roll. I wish I had discovered this a few years ago! It will SAVE your muscles! Seriously, it’s amazing. I foam roll my shoulders and back almost everyday!

17. Get plenty of sleep. Especially the week leading up to your race! While you’re training and pushing yourself harder than usual, your body NEEDS quality sleep so it can recover and be ready for your next run! I feel like I turn into an old woman during training sometimes because I’m more than happy to go to bed at 9 or 9:30 most nights!

18. Figure out when packet pick up/expo is for your race. Plan accordingly. Cut out ALL exercise 2-3 days out from race. I run better when my body has had 2-3 days off from running, sometimes 4 days off. Everyone is different though!

19. The day and night before my big race I like to make sure and control EVERYTHING. I control how much water I drink, I control what I eat, I control what my MIND thinks that day, and I control how early I get to bed! It’s like Christmas Eve, and you probably won’t sleep great! Be sure and lay out your clothes the night before, attach your bib, your timing chip, pack your nutrition, and foam roll one more time.

20. Wake up! It’s race day and you ARE prepared! Eat a breakfast you’re used to, including a banana for extra potassium, and drink a little bit of water (not too much because you don’t want to have to pee at mile 3!) I like to take an Ibuprofin and an Imodium with breakfast…the Ibuprofin helps ward off any shin splints or joint aches and the Imodium is so you don’t need to run by a KMart and ship your pants.

If you got that joke, we were meant to be friends.


What would you add to my list? What is your favorite race distance?

Be sure and check back in a few days for a review of the Banjees Wrist Band by Sprigs. They GRACIOUSLY sent me two of their products to test out and I’m so excited to run with them!

sprigs banjees wrist bands for running

Tomorrow is my first 14 miler, wish me luck!


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  • Reply
    November 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Good luck on your 14 miler! You’re going to do amazing, we all know that! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013 at 2:16 am

    A late congrats on your PR last week πŸ™‚ Thanks for all the great tips I have my first half coming up in April. Also I totally laughed out loud at you shipping your pants! πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Ksenija @ With An Open Mind
    November 2, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Thank you so much Sarah for writing this post! I had a huge smile on my face when I saw the title on bloglovin a few minutes ago. That was exactly what I meant when I asked you for a how to! Awesome, I’ll check Hal Higdon for a concrete plan right now. And I might write everything down and start with my training next week πŸ™‚

    One more question: how much time would you recommend to plan in before a first half marathon, when you are comfortable running 3 miles (I can do 6, but I wouldn’t call it “comfortable” πŸ˜‰ )?
    Ksenija @ With An Open Mind recently posted…Five On Friday {halloween edition}My Profile

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Ksenija- No problem!! It was fun to write πŸ™‚ I would recommend 8-10 weeks to train! That should be plenty of time!

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Blonder Side of Life
    November 2, 2013 at 7:43 am

    First of all what a funny 5 things list haha…Second you put together a super helpful list. I’ve already trained and run for a Half but goodness girl, you put into words the half formulated thoughts going through my brain…I don’t know how you do it! Well probably b/c you’re an amazing writer but you get my point. I love your blog b/c you put into words things I can only half think of haha πŸ™‚ Good luck on your 14 miler!!
    Kelsey @ Blonder Side of Life recently posted…Happy November + ChallengeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Kelsey- Haha aww you’re too sweet! I’m glad you like reading it πŸ™‚ Usually I feel like it’s just a bunch of word vomit πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I really appreciate you mentioning about the amount of times you run per week. I struggle with being able to get in 4 every week and have felt really bad about that. And right now in my training it does exhaust my body to have consecutive days of running. So it’s nice to hear that you still run the distances you do without running every single day.

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Bree- Girl same here, if I run too many days a week I get burnt out and then don’t WANT to run at all, plus it’s usually just too hard on my body, and the last thing I’d want is to get injured!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    November 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Wow, I had no idea only 1% of Americans finish a marathon. Interesting. Did you hear Pamela Anderson finished a marathon?

    It’s going to feel so good to stuff your face on Thanksgiving before/after all of those long runs! I would have to close my eyes and imagine pumpkin pie after mile 7, haha.

    These are all great tips- I really need to start foam rolling!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Sarah- Oh my gosh yes I did read that!! If Pamaela Anderson can do a marathon I KNOW I can! Ha! And yesssss I hadn’t even thought about stuffing my face on Thanksgiving EXTRA this year but now I’m pumped now that you mention it!! Woohoo!!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    What a perfect post! These are all fabulous tips and tricks! I’ve found it helpful to have part of my support system there on race day, even if they’re just at the finish line or it’s one person, that has made the difference for me on a few occasions! I can certainly appreciate the be able to run 3 miles comfortably though – amen, amen, amen!! Oh, and congrats on rocking your last race!!
    Emily recently posted…Marathon Monday: The Perfect WeekMy Profile

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Emily- Thanks! Oh yes!!! I can’t believe I forgot to add that..it helps SO much mentally to see people you know and have someone scream your name! Such a great mental boost during the race!

  • Reply
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness
    November 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    omg an immodium with breakfast – thats brilliant! hope your 14-miler went well! and good luck on your 16 miler coming up! you are going to ROCK this half marathon a month from now!!!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Charlotte- hahaha well it works!! Thanks girl!

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama
    November 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    My favorite training tip – 0 – believe in yourself! LOVE!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Nicole- πŸ™‚ agreed!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Backstage Balance
    November 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Awesome post! Practical advice and I wish someone had told me about #10 years ago, too πŸ™‚ Foam rollers for life!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      November 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Laura- Thanks! Haha foam rollers are wonderful πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 8:07 am

    These are some great tips Sarah, I’ve been “trying” to start running but have ins and outs with it.. What tips would you give to someone whose “trying” to “love” running but gets burned out quickly? πŸ™‚ Happy SITS Day and happy Monday! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently posted…The ‘Coarse’ of ActionMy Profile

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    So glad you posted this. My mom is wanting me to join her in the Music City half marathon here in Nashville in late March or early April (can’t remember). I just got back into shape and am 11 pounds away from shedding the baby weight so it excites me but also scares the living shit out of me.
    Ashlee recently posted…Why You Should Not Drink YoohooMy Profile

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    These are really great tips. They seem clear and easy enough to follow. I’m definitely sharing with my network! I actually know quite a few people training for a half marathon right now.
    Heidi recently posted…5 Things To Stop Buying TodayMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lisa Green
    January 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    This was so cute and made me smile. I’ve completed two full and four half-marathons and your tips are perfect! Great post. Happy SITS Day.
    Lisa Green recently posted…The Disney Dreamgirls Podcast – Michelle and JayneMy Profile

  • Reply
    January 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Great article. Personally, running a marathon isn’t my thing, but I’d never try to discourage someone else from doing so. I’d try to encourage them of course and give them my best support. I probably should sent this post to one of my friends if they ever wanna run in next race for the cure walk. I don’t know if it’ll be held here in Baltimore this year. The last one was held on October 20th in Hunt Valley. I actually didn’t run for this one and went in early. Anyway, you give out great tips to help someone get fit for a race.

  • Reply
    Jean Lynd
    January 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I run 3x a week, typically, 3.3 miles each time. I am 40, with 4 kids and never dreamed I’d be doing that. Imagining running a half marathon seems sooo hard. But not impossible! That’s what matters. I used to would say “impossible” for something like that. But now that I went from being a non-runner to running my first 5K in 5 months time, to keeping it going another 3 more months, I think I can do anything if I put my mind to it. Happy SITS day!
    Jean Lynd recently posted…Low Carb Spaghetti Squash CasseroleMy Profile

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      January 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Jean- Good for you, Jean! That is incredible!! You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to, of course! I think if you trained for it, you could accomplish a half! No doubt!

  • Reply
    Open Mind Weekly {05/14} | With An Open Mind
    February 2, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    […] Miles – How To Train For a Half Marathon (aka the tips sweet Sarah gave me a while ago and I am putting to good […]

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