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Preparing for a half-marathon takes dedication, discipline and determination to not only finish the race but compete at a high level.

 

Have a Reason

Having an object of motivation helps you push through those tough times on the road or trails and reminds you of why you’re striving to cross the finish line. Each road warrior has a different reason for throwing on their kicks and pounding the pavement, whether it’s:

  • To improve their overall health.
  • To achieve new fitness goals.
  • To raise some money for a worthy cause.

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Train and Acclimate

  • Slowly acclimating the body to the rigors of a half-marathon is vital for success.
  • Slowly increase runs. Newbies should target an increase of 1.5 miles every other week to their lengthen their runs.
  • Use a training plan. A well-written plan will tell you when to run, how much and when to increase your runs. There are plenty of plans available online and via apps to take the guesswork out of your half-marathon training. If you follow the plan, you should acheive your goals.
  • Run smart. The longest training run prior to the race should take place within two weeks before the half-marathon.

 

Choose the Right Footwear

  • Make sure your shoes fit properly. When purchasing a new pair, have a footwear professional make a recommendation. He or she can examine your footfalls and foot shape, and give suggestions based on how you move and where you run.
  • Choose the right socks.
  • Know when to replace your footwear. The average running shoe needs replacing after 300 to 500 miles, depending on the type of terrain and body size of the runner. Assuming a runner gets close to 25 miles a week during training, their shoes could be shot by the time the starting gun fires.
  • Have a second pair. Multiple pairs of running shoes not only help extend the shelf life of your kicks, but also prevent injuries that occur from worn-out shoes.
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Know How to Fuel Your Body

You know, of course, that eating the right foods and staying well hydrated are some of the keys to successfully completing a marathon.

  • Carb load a day or two in advance of a long run. Think good carbs that build up extra glycogen in your body—whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, bananas, sweet potatoes, quinoa.
  • Eat about an hour before your half-marathon so you’ve properly digested what’s in your system.
  • Drink lots (and lots) of water. Hydrate in the days leading up to the big race, as well as during and after your half-marathon.
  • Eat some foods post long runs to help recover. Try and eat in the 30 minutes post-run to refuel your body with the nutrients it needs. Peanut butter, bananas and whole-grain bagels are good sources of fuel.
  • Don’t eat anything “new” on race day. During training, determine the best foods to fuel your body, and stick with those on the day of the half-marathon so you don’t disturb your digestive system.

 

Find a Running Buddy

  • Running with a buddy or a group can improve the training experience by helping you stay accountable for your workouts.
  • Friends and training partners are also great for a quick word of encouragement or a high-five after a grueling training session.

 

Practice Your Run

  • As part of your training, you don’t want any surprises once you’re off. Try and find a course that closely mimics where you’ll be running, and practice several miles there.
  • Wear the gear in which you’ll run in the race to ensure everything is as comfortable as possible—outfit and shoes.
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Rest

The human body is an amazing organism capable of healing itself; yet, without taking the time to rest, the body loses its ability to recover. This can lead to injuries and decreased performance.

Low energy, tired legs and a high resting heart rate mean it’s time to hit the brakes and rest for a day or two.

  • Stay off your feet for a few days whenever possible. No need for overexertion.
  • Get as much sleep as possible.
  • Take a mental break. Relax, and know that you’ve got this.
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