As the time draws closer to my half-marathon race, I thought it worthwhile to share a behind-the-scenes look of my training process plus a music playlist intended to keep me motivated for 2 straight hours of running. I’ve split this post into three sections – running plan, eating plan, and playlist. This post is by no means a thorough overview of training for a half-marathon. For that, I recommend Runner’s World or another reputable running magazine/business. This post focuses more on the tips I’ve found most meaningful to me during my training experience, and now hopefully for you. So let’s get into it shall we?
I start training for a half-marathon 2-3 months before the race, which gives me 8-12 weeks to increase my distance from 3 miles (my baseline) to 13.1 miles. The next thing I do after signing up for the race is I go straight to my calendar and mark how many weeks I have to train and how many weekends are available to increase my distance. I increase my distance by 1.5-2 miles at a time, so I mark on my calendar the exact mileage I will be running on distance days. For example, if I book a race 2 months in advance and determine I have 5 weeks available out of the 8 weeks to increase my distance, then I mark in my calendar my miles of 5/7/9/11/13 on the available Saturdays or Sundays. Next, I make it a priority to run at least 3 days per week. I run my baseline distance of 3-4.5 miles for 2 of those days and then one long distance run for the 3rd day.
Here is an example of a typical week of running for me:
- Monday – rest/walk
- Tuesday – 3 mile run
- Wednesday – rest/walk
- Thursday – 4.5 mile run
- Friday – rest/walk
- Saturday – 5/7/9/11/13 mile run (depends on where I’m at in my training plan)
- Sunday – rest/walk
It hasn’t failed me thus far!
Lastly, here are a few training tips I’ve learned over the years:
- Trim your toenails before a long run or race day. You don’t want bleeding toes or a toenail to fall off (not that any of these things have happened to me).
- Plan for the weather, unless you want to experience mother nature in all her glory. One of my half-marathon races was in the pouring rain and I didn’t have a rain jacket or anything to shield me. Thankfully, it was summer and all of us runners made it fun by blaring “Singing in the Rain.”
- Prepare yourself for chafing. It happens to everyone in some form or fashion, so finding running clothes and underwear made of synthetic, wicking fabrics is a must. Also, I’ve heard rubbing deodorant or diaper rash cream over the areas prone to chafing (armpits, inner thighs, and lower back) are great prevention treatments.
- Carry a fuel pack around your waist to load up with protein bars, gel packs, your phone and any other essentials you need for long distance days or the day of the race.
- This is something I’ve started fairly recently, but I hold tension in my shoulder/trapezius muscles while running and I rub a peppermint/lavender essential oil mixture on them after a run. This has been a huge help in preventing me from developing headaches by relaxing my muscles.
As far as eating while training, my diet mostly stays the same except that I have to be intentional about when and what I eat before a run. Running makes my digestive tract easily irritable so I try to avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods 4 hours before a run. About 1-2 hours before a run, I usually eat a bagel and nut butter with coffee and a little water. During a run, I usually don’t re-hydrate unless I’m running for more than 5 miles. For runs that are greater than 5 miles, I try to re-hydrate at 3 miles and then every ~1.5 miles thereafter. My re-hydration beverage of choice is fruit juice mixed with water and a dash of salt. In my opinion, it tastes much better than sport’s drinks and it’s something I always have on hand. I am also not a fan of protein shakes, bars, or energy gels (is it just me or are the artificial flavors hard to stomach?). Like I said, most of the time I get by just fine eating bagels with nut butter, water mixed with fruit juice + a dash of salt, and a high-protein meal post-run. However, during race day I graciously take what is offered to me by the volunteers and I keep a protein bar or energy gel stashed in my fuel pack because they are much easier to run with than bagels. The last important component of my diet while training is staying hydrated. Staying hydrated is the single most important part of the diet when training. Before, during, and after a run I’m always drinking water. Always. I don’t go anywhere without my Blender bottle. I drink around 600-900 ml water after a run to replete my water stores. Even during times when I’m not training, I always aim for the recommended 64 ounces water per day and avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, which I think helps my overall physical condition before I even decide to start training. For a more thorough overview of hydration during training, this post by Runner’s World is excellent.
If you have any questions about diet during exercise, please feel free to leave a message in the comments section. I love knowing what is meaningful for you!
The best half-marathon playlist ever! I plan to play this through twice during my race.
That’s it, guys! I hope this post was helpful and meaningful for you if you’re looking at training for a half-marathon in the future. Hannah (my sweet daughter) says hi and best wishes from the stroller!