It’s been a while since I’ve officially raced a half marathon (just a little over two years to be exact) but Rock n Roll San Francisco is just around the corner so its time, once again, to suck it up buttercup. While my end goal this year is full marathon number two, believe it or not, 13.1 still makes me nervous. As I pondered the race this morning in the shower (you know, the place where we ALL get our best ideas), I thought back to my very first half marathon, which ironically, was also in San Francisco. What did I do to prepare? What would I have done better? Why did I decide to eat an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on the drive home afterward? (See also: why WOULDN’T I do that?!)
I remember having all of the questions, and none of the resources. Running was still somewhat new to me so I didn’t have too many friends that I could reach out too. Of course, there was the internets, but who reads blogs and trust strangers? Thus, I present you with some helpful tips for preparing for your first half marathon.
- Picking the race: go with a run that includes some fun! Pick somewhere that you’ll have to travel to, but not too far or tricky to get to. I’d go with a place you are somewhat familiar with, but will still present you with some new scenes to pass the time on your run. That’s why I went with San Francisco – it was a short 3.5 hour drive from home that I had been to a few times, but hadn’t seen enough of. I knew how to get there, could plan a strategy around booking a hotel and the finish line and had a few pre and post race restaurants already planned out.
- Part two: One thing I love about the Rock n Roll Races is that there’s always a free concert that coincides with it. At my first RNR, I got to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis before the race and was so pumped on the show that it fueled the rest of my run! Find something that has a fun component to it. Tiffany necklace? Beer garden at the end? Running through Disneyland? This just gives you some extra motivation for getting across that finish line.
- Pinterest allllll the training plans. Seriously – look at a few and decide which one is most feasible for you. I tend to go with fewer short runs during the week, one long weekend run and three to four days of strength training. Why? Because it better protects my hips and I don’t get burnt out from running as quickly. The best way to figure out what will work for you is to just go for it. There’s nothing wrong with changing your plan to better conquer your challenges and Pinterest is there to help you get it done! I guess I am too – so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help picking a plan.
- Buy a new pair of running shoes. DON’T be like me and think you can run long distances in $30 sneakers from Payless or classified “running” shoes from the Nike Outlet. Take an hour to visit your local running or sports specialty store and ask someone to help you find the perfect pair. My life (and my feet) changed the second I stepped foot into Reno Running Company for some new kicks. The right store will analyze your running style, narrow down the type of shoe you need and even try and find something that fits your style (hello purple and pink Mizunos).
- Make a running playlist. Making a new one of these has been on my to-do list for a while. My personal computer recently died and with it went years and years and years of my favorite songs. What’s left of it, are my iTunes purchases and a very minimal list. Thanks to Spotify, I’ve been able to at least quickly select some playlists made by others (Punk Rock Workout being my favorite). Pick out 20-30 songs that make you dance, smile and move and group them together. They’ll keep you going along the way and help you pace out your miles. Don’t be ashamed to add whatever it is that will get you going – remember, this is for YOUR ears and feet. (queue Esther Dean’s “Drop It Low” in the background of my life).
I’ll never forget that last half mile of my first half marathon. I cried, I pep talked, I even picked up the pace. It helped that a fireman in a tuxedo was waiting at the finish line with a Tiffany’s necklace for me, but that’s not why I’ll never forget it. Me, who at her heaviest was 263 pounds, was conquering the world. My hope for every aspiring runner is to have their finish line moment, there are few things in the world quite like it.
Sign up for Rock n Roll San Francisco, April 8 in the Bay! Use the code RNRRNB2018 to save $15 on registration. See you there!