How to Crush Your First Half Marathon

This weekend I’ll be running in my SIXTH half-marathon. To be honest, I haven’t really been training for this all. I’ve been really busy the past couple of months between work and teaching, that while I’ve been working out, purposeful training runs have taken the back-burner. I’m starting to get the itch to run a full, but we’ll see after this weekend. I do miss running and plan to incorporate it back into my daily workout routine regardless.

Below are my race-day tips for how to crush your first half.

  1. DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. Race day isn’t the day to try out a new pair of shoes or eat something different for breakfast. Make sure you’ve done at least one run in your shoes and as far as food goes, stick to what you know.
  2. SET OUT YOUR GEAR THE NIGHT BEFORE. Attach your bib to your shirt and timing chip to your shoe, if you have one, so you have less to worry about in the morning. Set out any important items like headphones or gel to ensure you don’t forget them.
  3. CHECK THE WEATHER. If you think you’re going to be cold, wear layers because your body is going to warm up as soon as you start running. I suggest wearing an old sweatshirt or long-sleeve that you don’t mind ditching before the race if the temperature is cool.
  4. PACE YOURSELF. Hopefully you have a good base going into the race, so your body is familiar with the distance. Know your body and don’t go out to fast. Pace your first five miles, maintain your next five miles and give it whatever you have left for the last 3.1.
  5. BE MENTALLY TOUGH. When your body starts telling you that you are tired, need to slow down or even walk – keep going.
  6. CREST THE HILLS. According to, a common mistake is backing off as soon as you reach the top of a hill. Instead, open up your stride and continue your momentum after you’ve reached the top.
  7. ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE AND BE MOTIVATED. Races provide me the biggest adrenaline rush. From the spectators scattered throughout the course holding signs and cheering to volunteers handing out water and providing split times, a lot of effort goes into a running event so make sure you enjoy every step of it. Laugh at the signs (my favorite is still “That’s a long way for a free banana”), push yourself and allow other runners to push you.
  8. YOUR GPS IS PROBABLY WRONG. Whether I’m using my TomTom GPS Watch or the Map My Run App on my iPhone, the race is always longer than my devices are telling me. Not by far, but just a heads up!

Good luck!

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