Are you counting down to your first half marathon?
Here’s how to make sure the day is one to remember.
Plan your fueling strategy
Use the days leading up to your event to lay the groundwork. Make sure you eat enough carbs and stay well hydrated. Runner’s World has some great guidance on this.
When race day comes around, eat a substantial breakfast but make sure it’s one you’ve tried and tested during training so there are no nasty surprises at the start.
Pack any mid-run snacks you think you’ll need the night before. There might be opportunities in the start village to try or buy nutrition products but stick to what you know to avoid any stomach upsets.
Once you’re over the finish line, taking on some protein is essential to kick-start the recovery process so make sure you have your favourite shake or bar handy.
Get organised the night before
You’ve heard the old saying. Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.
Running around the house hunting for safety pins is not the most relaxing way to spend the morning of the race.
Play out the day in your head and make sure you have everything packed (or at least out) and ready to go. Re-read your paperwork and make sure you know what to do when you get there.
If your race involves a hotel stay, will breakfast start early enough or do you need to take food to eat in the room? How will you get to the start?
Kit up for comfort
We’re not going to tell you what to wear. The most important thing is that you are comfortable.
New shoes or running kit might give you a confidence boost to begin with, but stick to your tried and trusted training kit to limit the risk of rubbing seams and other wardrobe malfunctions.
Check the weather forecast before you set off and make sure you’re prepared for the conditions.
Get to the start early
It’s your first half marathon. Make a day of it.
Getting to the start in good time will allow you to relax, soak up the atmosphere and get yourself organized.
It’s pretty normal to feel like you need the loo more often before the start of an event so make sure you have plenty of time to allow for queues. You’ll also need to allow time to queue for the bag drop (if there is one).
Don’t set a time goal
You’re heading into unchartered territory. Even if you’ve done the distance during your training, race day is likely to be entirely different.
Weather, terrain, hundreds or even thousands of other runners – there are all kinds of variables that can affect your performance. It’s all new and it’s all beyond your control so just enjoy it.
Your first half is all about getting used to the feel of it, doing the distance and setting a benchmark to aim for next time.
It’s easy to get swept up in the atmosphere and start too quickly. If you’ve been tapering, you’re probably well-rested and feeling good.
Trust in your training. You should have a good idea by now of the pace you can maintain so don’t be tempted to push yourself right from the start.
13.1 miles is a long way! Take it easy for the first ten so that you have enough left in the tank to finish strong.
Find your motivation
There will be good times. There’s also likely to be some less than good times. Most runners experience a few ups and downs over long distances.
Think about what will help you to stay motivated and keep that in your head when the going gets tough. For some, the support of the crowd is enough to get them to dig a bit deeper. There’s never a shortage of high-fives and cheers.
Another coping strategy is to divide the distance into smaller goals. You could even dedicate each mile to a person who has special meaning to you and think about how proud they'll be while you run.
Don’t forget to celebrate
If a half-marathon was easy, everybody would be joining in. A half is a big achievement. Relish that moment when you cross the line – the first one is over!
Make sure you’ve pre-arranged a meeting place with family and loved ones. Mobile signal can be affected by all those runners sending messages or uploading their medal photos. A bit of organization in advance means less hassle and more time to celebrate!