For those of you who don’t know, I ran my first half marathon in San Fransisco! Now it’s about two weeks post-half-marathon and I feel like my body is FINALLY recovered. I mean, my shins and calves are just now starting to feel normal again. So crazy! I would have never thought my body would take so long to normalize.
Though I am SO proud of myself for actually completing the race (because legit…I wanted to give up almost EVERY week), there are a lot of things I wish I knew going into my first race. You know, stuff that might have made the race easier and more enjoyable.
So here are a few half marathon tips for beginners
+ Run it with a friend. I signed up for this race with one of my best friends, Chandler! And honestly, I would have quit half way through training if I didn’t have that extra layer of accountability. Not only that, but Chan added some comic relief throughout the entire race. We got separated at the very beginning of the race so the whole time we were texting each other and trying to motivate each other the whole way.
There were a few times where I would literally BUST out laughing while running by myself. I got a lot of awkward stares from the other runners buuuuut HEY, I was having fun. Plus it was so rewarding to celebrate with with a friend after we both completed the race! We both shared in this mutual misery and overall body pain, but at least we were going through it together!
+ Train in the same environment you are running in. This was probably my biggest mistake of all. So lets do the math really fast…the large portion of my training was in Los Angeles. And I mean I ran on the bike path that lines the beach–AKA really freaking flat land. My half marathon, however, was in San Fransisco. HELLA HILLS, people. Can you see how this doesn’t add up?!
My body was NOT prepared for the constant change in elevation while running, in more ways than one. Now, it wasn’t impossible, but my time was a lot slower than I anticipated and it was definitely harder to take full breaths. So I really learned the importance of training in the environment that my race will be. However, I will say that the views were TOTALLY worth the pain!
+ Break in your shoes WELL beforehand. Ughhhh blisters. Stupid me decided to break in my new shoes about 2 weeks prior to the race, which was definitely not enough time. Hello, blisters! This clearly made the second half of the race THAT much harder. So save yourself the added stress of blistering heels and start breaking in your shoes on Day 1 of training.
+ Stretch, baby, stretch. Since I have a history of bad/tight hips, stretching has to be a huge priority for me. However, I don’t think I stretched enough during my training. And because of that, I had on-and-off pain in my knees and hips the whole time. And when no amount of stretching could help the pain subside, foam rolling and massage therapy definitely did the trick. BUT I feel like if I stretched more religiously from the very beginning, I could have avoided the tightness and discomfort all together.
+ Make sure your headphones are fully charged. I guess this lesson is of least importance…for me it’s a priority. I know some people love running with no music, but running is just TOO boring for me to tolerate hearing only the sound of my footsteps. And for those of you who don’t run with music, you are truly my idols and I hope to be you some day. For now, I need my running playlist.
I use these super cool wireless headphones to listen to my music, but I forgot to charge them fully the night before my race. So on mile 7, my headphones died and it was just me, my footsteps, and a bunch of freaking hills. It wasn’t as bad as I originally though upon my headphones dying. But the whole experience would have been more pleasant if I was running to the beat of the music.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with my first half marathon experience. I’m still on the fence about racing in another one, but ask me in another week when (hopefully) my shins FINALLY stop hurting. HA.
What’re some good half marathon tips that I missed?! Any funny first half stories?! We can all laugh at our pain together.