Introduction to Half-Marathon Training

Last November, I surprised myself.

The corporate health program sponsors registration fees for races throughout the year, on a first-come, first-serve basis. I received the email, with spots available for a 5K, half-marathon, full-marathon, and a relay. Instead of signing up for the 5K, I clicked the half-marathon. And continued on through with the registration, half-marathon selected, knowing full well what I was doing.

I clicked submit. Oh my.

In what may have been temporary insanity, I signed myself up for 4 months of training so I can run 13.1 miles with a bunch of strangers. That said, I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m getting more excited each day. However, I’ve had to get my ass in gear. The plan:

The Workouts

half marathon training

Obviously, training for a half-marathon requires a lot of running. As much as I don’t mind running, I knew I’d need more than that, both for my physical and mental health. I found a plan (Google search “beginner half marathon”) that incorporates running, stretching, strength, and cross-training over a 16-week period. Perfect!

The Nutrition

half marathon training

Stop eating cake. Also, cut way back on the booze. And while you’re at it, eat a damn vegetable!

In reality, I’ve mostly just committed to tracking what I eat on MyFitnessPal. It tells me if I’ve eaten enough/too much and my macro balances (for more on that, read this). Because my workouts are shifting to cardio and away from strength, I’m upping my carbs to about 60%, instead of 45-50%. I also care about getting enough protein for recovery, fiber because it’s amazing, potassium for my heart, and iron (a problem for me). Half-marathon training isn’t something you can (or should) attempt with a belly full of donuts and beefaroni. Sadly.

The Time

half marathon training

I prefer to exercise early mornings before work. For one, I rarely have enough energy after work to be in good form. Early runs are invigorating (you’ll wake up pretty damn fast when that cold air hits your face) and I enjoy my moments of solitude. You know who wants to run outside in 26 degree weather at 5:30 AM? NO ONE, THAT’S WHO. But! That means I can run wherever I want, with no traffic, no other joggers, and a great view of the stars. I even installed a stargazing app to identify a really bright star — it was Saturn! Ya’ll late night bitches ain’t never seen Saturn!

The Rewards

half marathon training

While I love rewarding myself for doing…very little, I decided this time to let the race and my progress be its own reward. I’m only one week in, but I already feel stronger. Despite a few rough starts, I adjusted quickly to waking up early. My “treats” for doing this are nutritious snacks, fantastic sleep, that delightful “lightly sore” feeling, and a general sense of accomplishment every morning. I’m sure when my long runs get longer I’ll need a bit more external motivation, but for now I’m enjoying the process.

What do you think? Any tips or tricks for a first-timer? I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Jess

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