Half Marathon Essentials

I once crossed the finish line of a half marathon vertical. I hope to do it again in a few weeks. And so I feel qualified to dispense advice on what you need in order to run a half. It resulted in this top 9 list. Why not top 10? Because this is my blog that’s why.

(1) You need to like running at least on some very basic level. If you are the type to only run if there is a fire then DON’T DO A HALF MARATHON FOR GOODNESS SAKE.

(2) You need at least 1 year of consistent running experience under your belt.  By consistent I mean a 3 mile jaunt a couple of times a week, every week.  The reason I feel this way is because doing a half requires sticking to a lengthy training schedule.  Running a half marathon is different than many things in life in that there is no luck or chance to being able to run 13.1 miles. If you follow the training routine you’ll finish. It is that simple.  But if you can’t stick to a regular running routine you won’t finish.  I also personally think you need at least a year of running to be conditioned enough to run a half marathon.  It takes awhile for your body to get used to running if you haven’t done it often. That is probably why there is no “Couch to Half Marathon” program. Because it is a bad idea.

(3) But don’t be consistent to the point of obsessive.  If you’re sick or hurt and your body is telling you don’t do what was scheduled that day then don’t.  I caught a cold/bug the other week. My training schedule called for a 10 mile run last Saturday. You think I did that? Heck no. I walked a bit instead. With that cold it was as much a work out as a 10 miler anyway.

(4) On being injured, you need to be comfortable running with aches and pains.  Our sport is not other sports’ punishment for nothing.  See a doctor if you have any doubts, but the usual “I’m not a teenager anymore” aches and pains while running is normal.

(5) You need some race experience. Even just a few 5Ks.  This is to get used to the ins and outs of race day, especially getting used to running elbow to elbow at the start.

(6) You need friends to root you on. The types of friends who will talk you off the cliff when you search “black toenail not serious” and “black toenail no doctor” on the internet and freak out when Dr. Google still thinks you might lose your toe. The types who are willing to scrutinize photos of the black toenail to give you their expert opinion on the matter. The sorts of friends who will make a tutu for you to run in at your race, send you “You can do it” Rob Schneider video montages the night before race morning to get you psyched,  and the ones who are crazy enough to put a tutu on themselves and run it with you.  This is probably the most important must have in your half marathon essentials toolkit. Buddies rooting you on makes a big difference.

(7)  You need to cross train but remember this is ‘Merica where if you walk from your car into the store instead of getting dropped off by your spouse while he parks the car you are an athlete. You know what my training program says counts as cross training? Walking.  Don’t get dropped off. Do a few push ups and some sit ups once in awhile.  Work hills into your running. Stretch. Stretch a lot. You’re good. No need to go Olympian with the cross training. You’re a rock star just for committing to the 13.1 miles.

(8) You must have a kick ass play list. I’m not talking about the music you listen to in the car when you’re giving a coworker or your mom a ride. I’m talking about the music that motivates you to run.  A runner’s play list is sacred and so us runners never make fun of each others play list. I will be honest with you. Sometimes a little M.C. Hammer gets me through.  Now I do have one friend who does not listen to music at all when he runs. And he runs some long distances. He must have very interesting thoughts to keep him occupied. I went for a 3 mile walk today without music and I was so bored with myself by 1/4 mile from home I nearly turned around.

(9) You need to care of your feet. All of my running injuries in getting ready for the half (with the exception of when I tripped and rolled down a hill which does not count) were related to not taking care of my feet. Get good shoes. Shoes that fit.  After I did my half I came home with that black toenail. And my toes tingled and went numb. I saw a podiatrist and (thinking something was very wrong) told him some of my toes were numb for a solid day after I ran and he suggested I go to a running store to get my feet sized.  They told me I was an 8 1/2.  Up until then I had run in an 8, thinking that was 1/2 size up from what I really was (and what all my other shoes are).  No problems since I went to an 8 1/2.  And now I’m in a stability shoe to correct overpronation. They took some getting used to but it cut down on my foot and knee aches and pains. Prepare to spend $$$ on good sneakers.  Us female runners are unique in that the most expensive item in our wardrobe isn’t usually a black tie dress or heels. It’s our Nike Zoom 17 sneakers! Also, cut your toenails. I came home from runs with bloody socks a few times because my nails were becoming knife like.  And blisters.  Get some running socks, the kind that wick sweat, to keep from getting those. They’re worth it.  Actually everything is worth it when it comes to caring for your feet, they’re what gets you through that race!

So there it is, your top 9 Half Marathon Essentials.




    1. I’ll bet if there were such a program people would try it! You know the type I’m talking about Nikki. The weekend warriors, except they’re weekend warriors once a year or so. The ones who say “Oh lawd I’ve got to get off the couch and exercise!” and they decide the thing to do right off the bat is P90x or CrossFit. And then of course they don’t want to exercise ever again. “I was just sitting here watching Devious Maids and thought I ought to go exercise, so I’m gonna climb Mt. Everest!” Yeah, no.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *