If You're Running, You're a Runner: Lessons learned training for my first half marathon

Training for a half marathon is HARD. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. But honestly? It's probably not as hard as you imagine it to be. It wasn't for me, and before I started training I had never run more than 3 miles at a time. I learned a ton about myself, and about what works for me while training for my first race.

So below are my 100% amateur, non-professional, total novice (how many ways can I say beginner?) tips for training.

Lesson 1: Run when the running is good.
I made the mistake a few times (ok, several) of running when I was too tired, too hot, too full, etc. I learned not to force a run if I knew I'd struggle through it. I also learned to embrace good conditions when I came across them: run harder when it's cool, when there's a breeze, when you're going slightly downhill, when a great song comes on. When there is a shady side, run there. Don't force a long run if you aren't feeling it, you'll just have a bad run.

Lesson 2: Be lucky.
Live in a dry climate. Have a supportive partner. Don't have joint problems.

Obviously I'm not super serious with this one, but it really did factor into my training.

Lesson 3: Track your progress, and publicize it.
Before I started training, the farthest I'd ever run was 3.4 miles, and I did that the week I decided to sign up for the half. I used a Hal Higdon training plan, mixed in strength and intervals, and started moving forward. Each week on my long run was the longest I'd ever run, and it was SO REWARDING. I posted about it on Facebook and Instagram, and even though a couple people told me it was inspiring, my motives were selfish. I needed the encouragement! It really helped to know people were watching my progress, that they were proud of what I was trying to accomplish.

Lesson 4: Create a great playlist, and then change it up.
Nothing energizes me like a great song, but after a while I got really tired of my playlist on long runs because I knew how far I still had to run by each song. So my advice? Switch it up, but make sure it's something that motivates you. You can't go wrong with Britney, Kelly, and Taylor (Spears, Clarkson, and Swift, obviously).

Lesson 5: Don't wear shorts to run.
This is pretty basic. My thighs rub together when I run. And while a couple miles is fine, after 6 or 7 or 8 I'm miserable. My solution is running capris, my favorite have a zip pocket in the back for my keys. Bodyglide and other anti-chafe products also work, but I prefer the capris. While we're at it...on race day just put that stuff allll over your the places where your skin rubs together. Trust me.

Lesson 6: Eat enough, and make what you eat a habit.
I discovered early on that I could not run a distance first thing on an empty stomach. Before each long run on Saturday mornings I made the same exact breakfast: Shakeology with oats and half a banana. My stomach was accustomed to Shakeology because I drink it every day, the oats were for a little extra carb jump, and the banana was to help with muscle cramping. It was the perfect meal: not so many calories that I had to wait more than 1 hour before running, but enough that I didn't feel dizzy when I get to mile 5.

That's it! Tips for training from an amateur runner.

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