Feel Great

Half Marathon Survival Guide

You sailed through the 5K color run, effortlessly finished the Four on the 4th race, and even completed a 10K race – now what? It’s time to take on the next challenge, and that challenge is tackling the half marathon. It’s a daunting endeavor, but there are ways to prepare for the race to increase your chances of success on the big day.


Tip #1:  Bite the bullet and just register for a race.

The hardest part about your first race is actually registering and making the commitment to run. Half marathons are a bit pricey, so once you register you’ll feel obligated to actually run the race. If it’s your first, give yourself at least 6 weeks to train, pick a well-established race that is relatively flat, is USATF certified, and ideally is not a destination-race. Only once you’ve gotten one half marathon under your belt is it suggested that you register for a destination race as travelling pre-races may interfere with your performance. Check out this website to find a race near Syracuse.


Tip #2: Head to your local specialty running shoe store and buy a new pair of sneakers.

Sorry, but your feet are not going to be happy in four-year-old ratted Nikes after 13.1 long miles. You are going to be logging many training miles in these shoes, and it is a good bet to start fresh with a new pair at the start of training. A specialty running store, like Fleet Feet Sports, will have employees that are able to fit you to a shoe that is perfect for your level of fitness and training goals.


Tip #3: Subscribe to a training guide.

The best way to ensure you are on-track with training for the race is to stick to a training plan created and tested by experts. Some of the best available online include the Hal Higdon Training Program and Jeff Galloway’s Training Program. Also, consider buddying up. A partner will keep you on track with training and make long runs more enjoyable.


Tip #4: Figure out your perfect pre- and post-workout fueling.

Your training period is the time when you need to figure out what fueling options work well for you – and do not deviate from this plan on race day. The half marathon is not long enough to necessitate on-the-run fueling, but pre-race fueling is crucial. On the morning of the race, eat a small carb-rich snack such as a sweet potato or a banana, and then immediately after the race refuel with protein and more carbohydrates. Don’t let the fancy power gels entice you—real, whole foods will do just the trick.


Tip #5: Gear up appropriately.

If you picked a summer race, then invest in some shorts designed specifically for running (such as Oiselle); if your race is in the fall or early spring, then longer spandex pants might be a better choice. You’ll also likely want to pick up some Body Glide to help prevent chafing, a common side effect of long runs. Lastly, your race may be in early morning, but that doesn’t mean the sun won’t shine. Lather up on sunscreen before heading out on race day to avoid a nasty burn.


Most importantly, have fun. A good starting goal with a half marathon is to just finish the race. Once you’ve accomplished this, then work on bringing your pace down and setting some finish time goals for future races. Now, lace up those sneakers and get training!


By Julie Kameisha