First: Superb! Good for you. Running a half marathon is one of those bucket-list items that requires a lot of grit (and good running bras), that will make you feel incredibly proud, and that improves your confidence for years. Because, hey—if you can commit to that kind of training regimen and then make it happen? There’s really no stopping you.
Full steam ahead!
Watch a movie, read a book
Stick with us here: Your training can start on the sofa. Really! A big part of running long distances is getting your brain ready for what’s ahead. That sucker gives out way before your legs or heart or lungs.
Get your mind fired up for the challenges to come with a book or movie that shows the pain, triumphs, and devotion running inspires. Or skip the lists and jump right into Brittany Runs a Marathon for a smart, funny chronicle of training, from first steps to distance race.
Your training needs to include a lot more activity, sure, but there’s a lot to be said for beginning with the end in mind. And some popcorn.
Find a program—and a race
Most half-marathon programs recommend that you have about a three-mile base running level and then get your ready over 12 weeks. You can find programs that ratchet up training by mile or time, and over a shorter or longer time frame; they’re all over the Internet, and your local running clubs will have their own.
Having a training schedule to guide you is a big help for keeping you moving and injury-free. It’d be easy to try to progress too fast and get sidelined by stress fractures, tendinitis, or any of the other dozens of ways you can hurt yourself by overtraining. With a program, you train smarter—on a schedule that keeps you safe.
If you have a race in mind, work back to figure out whether you can truly be distance-ready—and if you can, sign up before you can change your mind! Commitment comes in many forms; a hefty race fee can keep you moving when you just don’t wanna. And sometimes, even the most enthusiastic runner just doesn’t feel it.
Accountability can work wonders for your training. If you don’t have friends who share your half-marathon goal, look for a running group in your area. If you run with a group or even one friend, you benefit from not wanting to let someone else down on those days where the weather isn’t hospitable or you really want to do about 8,000 things that aren’t running.
A running buddy also can be great for answering your questions and sharing advice. You’re going to have a lot of questions as training progresses. Leaning on the experience of those who’ve been there can be reassuring and motivational.
Fuel your body
As you increase your mileage, your body adjusts, and your nutritional and caloric needs change right along with it. If you already get lots of vegetables and healthy proteins, you’re off to a great start. Some small changes to what or when you eat as you move into the second half of your training program, like adding electrolytes to your water, can help your body absorb the additional effort.
Deciding to run a half marathon is a big commitment. You have to start now for a race that’s still three months away. You’ll spend as much time planning to run, learning how to ace your race, and recovering from runs as you do logging miles. And then—heart palpitations!—the big day will arrive.
It’s going to be amazing. You’re going to be amazing.