10 Things That Helped Me Train For My Half Marathon + Things I Should Have Done More Of
I’m just one week out from running my second half-marathon. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I believe training for these runs has changed my life in so many different ways, physically and mentally. I have a different perspective of what my body is capable of, I have a different perception of myself in regards to health and fitness, and I have more confidence in myself as a finisher. Sticking these training plans out and finishing the races has made any “I don’t finish what I start” thoughts I had about myself slowly disappear. And of course there are the physical changes as well. I rarely say negative things about my body and weight anymore because I now realize being fit and strong isn’t always the same thing as weighing a certain weight or being a certain size. I have for sure lost weight during this running journey, I am currently below my pre baby weight, but most importantly I am stronger mentally and physically than ever before and my discipline is also stronger. I feel like my best self when I’m training for a race, I feel like the discipline I have in running pours over into other areas of my life and I get more disciplined in almost all other areas too.
If you’ve never signed up for a race, I’d absolutely recommend it. If you “hate running”, try a 10k first and train for that. I think you’ll be surprised on how running can grow on you and actually become very addicting. I was a “I don’t like running” girl once, I get it.
I wanted to share a list of things that helped me train for my two half marathons. I’m still a newbie at running and have a ton to learn, but for now this is the list of things that got me through training. I’ve even thrown in at the bottom a small list of things I know I should have done more of.
#1 An Amazing Playlist
This is a no brainer, I know, but it’s so important. I don’t know how much I’ve spent on downloading music, but I honestly don’t care. On mile 9 when I feel like quitting, I need that pump me up song to get me through. Right now my go to is Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons.
My playlist is pretty bipolar, I have anything from gangster rap to Christian music, and almost everything in between. Keep adding to your playlist so you don’t get bored of it. Also, be super careful about what the music is doing to your pace. If a song is slow and calming, your pace might drop too low and if your music is pumping you up be careful that you don’t go too fast and burn yourself out too soon in the run. I can never start my run with JLo’s song Dinero, I love it way too much!
#2 Map My Run app
I love this app. It’s free, easy to use and it tracks your pace, distance, route, elevation gain and calories. One day I might get one of those fancy watches that tracks all of that, but for now I love this app.
#3 An Accountability Partner
This is a huge one. Some people don’t need this, but I’d say most do. Making a promise to yourself is one thing, but making a promise to other people is another. I personally think people are more apt to break a commitment with themselves than to other people they care about (not sure why this is). For my first half marathon this was particularly important. I was training with one of my best friends and when the final weeks of training came and I wanted to quit, she was there to push me and remind me that I could finish. This second half marathon training has been a bit different, I’m running the race alone. I found a friend who was training for a different half marathon and we’d message each other about our runs and hold each other accountable. This was so helpful on days I felt lazy, getting a text from her saying she ran 10 miles lit a fire under my butt and reminded me to keep on my training plan. I am also so grateful for social media and my blog followers because when I tell y’all I’m going to do something, I better be a woman of my word.
#4 Run To The Finish blog
Amanda Brooks, the blogger behind the Colorado based blog all about running, is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve come across when it comes to running. Her blog, Run To The Finish, is such a great resource for just about anything you’d need to know about running and training.
#5 Baby G
Making Giulian proud is one of my greatest motivators. When I feel like quitting I just think, what kind of example would that set for my son?… and then I keep pushing. That sweet little boy is looking to us to be positive examples of how to live life.
#6 A Longer Term Training Plan
I think this is especially important on your first race. For me, gradually increasing my mileage each week is what gave me the confidence, endurance and stamina to continue. I think it’s physically and mentally smarter to do a training program that is longer and gives your body time to adjust to the long mileage.
#7 Podcasts + Audiobooks
I get tired of music sometimes, so I switch to a podcast or audiobook. I find that if I’m super into the content, it can help burn time and take my mind off the run. This is especially helpful to me on runs longer than 7 miles. I like to switch up what’s in my ear so I am less focused on the run.
#8 Running Buddy on Long Days
I’m so grateful that I had someone to run with on the long run days. Being able to talk with someone really helped burn the time. It was also a great accountability tool. It can be difficult to wake up Sunday morning and say, I want to run 10 miles today. The only thing to be weary of is if you’re running the actual race solo but have trained with someone the entire time. I did a few long runs by myself to ensure it wouldn’t throw me off too much on race day being alone.
#9 Switching Up My Running Location
You’ll find that most of this list is finding ways to avoid boredom. This is another way to do so. Switching up the scenery, path and location can really help the entire training process. I’d go crazy if our neighborhood was the only spot I ran for the last few months. Also, our neighborhood is in the city and there aren’t a lot of hills so it was good for me to switch up my runs to places with more elevation changes.
#10 Remembering Where I Started
This is particularly important on the days you’re beating yourself up (because that will most likely happen). I have videos in the highlights section on Instagram and any time I’m discouraged I just watch them. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come. My first running highlight was a one mile run when I was training for a 10k race last year. I remember that run, I was whooped. My perspective on distance and mileage is completely different from when I started. It’s humbling to look back at the whole journey, so I’d encourage you to do so if you’re not feeling proud of yourself.
Things I know I should have done more of during training:
I know I know, if you’re a runner you’re probably yelling at the screen right now. I still haven’t purchased or used a roller. I need to.
I didn’t do a single yoga session this entire training, which isn’t what I planned on. I feel like these things get neglected because I’m super busy, but I should get better about making time for yoga and stretching. So often it feels like I finish my race and Nick is rushed to leave the house for a meeting, so I’m in mom mode the moment I’m done, usually resulting in poor stretching (or no stretching).
My knees were killing me on mile 10-13 of my last half marathon. So this training I tried to do more cross training, the last few weeks I’ve done zero strength training and cross training… not good. I’m hoping my knees are okay next week during my second half marathon. Obviously I didn’t learn my lesson the first time.