How To Get Ready For A Half Marathon
In 490 B.C. Pheidippides ran 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens to tell of the Greek victory over the Persians, he shouted Niki! And then collapsed dead. Fortunately, I only ran a half marathon and was only half dead upon my 13.1 mile adventure.
Less than a year ago, weighing in at 210 pounds, I ran my first 5K. This past weekend I ran my first half marathon at just over 180 pounds. A lot can happen in a year if you decide to act. Let’s reflect on how I lost 30 pounds, learned to love running, became a published author and a positive role model for men online with Path to Manliness.
If you can conquer one thing in your life that you claim is “impossible,” then you can completely change your mindset with everything in your life.
“I’m not a runner.” I hear this almost every time I bring up running. This is an outright lie that you tell yourself because you are full of self-doubt. Here’s the trick to changing your reality. Start saying “I’m not a runner RIGHT NOW.” Those two words are a gamechanger. You can become a runner.
How did I become a runner? One step at a time. I used to say that often iterated phrase, “I’m not a runner” all the time. I started to believe my lies too. In high school I would occasionally run to stay in shape for football but running was a means to an ends for me. Even though I went to State running track. But today, it’s become a huge part of my life and dare I say, enjoyable.
How do you train for a half marathon? Well, you run. Run whatever you can when you first start. Maybe this is only a mile. After that, run a little further and keep building. It takes time, but as you practice, your distance will grow. Keep building until you can reach the 13 mile mark. And if you have to run a mile, walk a mile, then start there. What is important is to keep beating your past self.
The best tip for becoming a runner is to set a real deadline. Go look online and find a race in your area and sign up for it. If you’re a beginner, find a 5K. If you’ve been training for a while, consider a half-marathon or a Spartan Race. Do this today!
By setting a real deadline, you’re less likely to make excuses when it’s time to go for a run. You’ll have more than motivation. You’ll have a purpose. That is how I lost my 30 pounds over the last year. Throughout 2018, I trained for a Spartan Race and in less than 6 months, I was able to drop 20 pounds.
What I Learned Training for a Half Marathon
I was a bit surprised when I first ran long enough that nipple chafing was an issue. For most of my training, I simply ran with bandaids over my nipples, but this was just uh… putting a bandaid on the problem… Anyway, I knew I needed a more refined solution for the half marathon and I found it with this anti-chafe product. It worked great and you can even apply it on other areas.
Get Proper Shoes
If you do nothing else, be sure to buy a proper pair of running shoes and train in them before the race to break them in. I bought the New Balance 880s and love them. They were a big step up from my clunky shoes I trained in for months. These put a spring in your step and feel like an extension of your foot.
Also, be sure to wear a hat if you’re bald like me. And you’ll likely be out there for 2 hours or more, so protect yourself from the sun.
Electrolytes! It’s What Plants Crave!
You need to carb up the night before. They recommend pasta, but I ate a couple slices of pizza and a couple breadsticks. And a couple beers. Maybe this isn’t ideal, but it felt right for me.
After the race, I ate everything I could lay my hands on. I ate half a banana, half a bagel and 2 beers. Then when I got home I ate half a bag of Doritos, some leftover pasta and a piece of cake. It was my kids’ birthday so that was well timed.
You Need an Epic Playlist to Motivate You During Your Run
This is the playlist that I used to run to. With lyrics like this, it inspired me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And this proved invaluable when the rain finally killed my phone, or at least maimed it. After mile 6, I was unable to access the touch screen of my phone, but killer tracks kept pumping through my headphones.
Fallout Boy – Champion
“If I can live through this, I can do anything!”
Pop Evil – Waking Lions
“I wanna stand up, 100 feet tall. Cause fear will never lead the way. I’m ready to run 100 miles strong. I will never be the same! I’m waking the lions in me!”
Joe Esposito – “You’re The Best”
“Try your best to win them all
And one day time will tell
When you're the one that's standing there
You'll reach the final bell!”
So how did I do on my first half marathon?
Well, I set out to run the race in under 2 hours. I may have set my expectations a bit high for my first foray into the world of half marathons. And the day of the race was met with a torrential downpour so I was left running with wet shoes. Did I struggle? Yes. Did it hurt? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Somehow in the midst of all that pain and suffering, there is a great sense of accomplishement and pride that makes it all worth it. Not to mention the electric atmosphere you are greeted with at these races. Now, i may have fallen short of the time I wanted, but I’m told that 2 hours and 12 minutes is a very respectable time for a first race. And now I have a time to beat for the next race. And the best races are always against your own self.
Set Yourself Up With A Kickass Reward
I haven’t been drinking leading up to this race. So, upon finishing, I had a couple of refreshing beers and gorged on pretty much all the food I could find. A 200-pound person who runs a half marathon in 2 hours will burn nearly 2,000 calories. A typical IPA is around 200 calories, so drinking a couple won’t set you back far. And you’ll likely never taste a better beer than after running 13.1 miles.
Then make sure to take a few days off to recuperate. Do some stretching to keep yourself free from injuries. And then look online for the next race.
Lastly, no matter how fast or slow you run one of these races, I have tremendous respect to you.