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Tips for Running Your First Half Marathon

Half Marathon Training Advice

By

Updated June 13, 2014

If you're training for your first half marathon, check out these half marathon training tips to get ready for a great race.

1. Wear the right running shoes.

Close-up of athlete legs running a marathon.
TommL/E+/Getty Images
Wearing the right running shoes is important to your overall comfort, performance, and injury prevention efforts. Find a running specialty store to get fitted for the right running shoes for your foot type and running style. Also, make sure you don't run in worn-out running shoes – they should be replaced every 300-400 miles.

2. Follow a half marathon training schedule.

Runner outside in fall weather
Photo by Stockbyte
Following a training schedule will not only keep you motivated, but it will also help prevent you from getting injured by doing too much too soon. Try one of these schedules:

Run/Walk Half Marathon Training Schedule
Beginner Half Marathon Training Schedule
Advanced Beginner Half Marathon Schedule

3. Work on proper running form.

Photo by Chase Jarvis/Getty Images
Proper running form is crucial for long distance running because you don’t want to waste energy or risk injury with inefficient or incorrect running form. Focus on staying upright, not slouching, with your head up and level. Keep your shoulders down, with your arms relaxed and at a 90 degree angle. Try to take short, quick steps, and keep your feet low to the ground, to allow you to conserve energy and minimize impact on your legs and joints.
Video: Proper Running Form
Tips for Proper Running Form

4. Maintain your motivation.

Three women running
Yellow Dog Productions
One of the biggest keys to success for new runners (as well as experienced ones) is staying motivated to maintain a consistent training schedule. There will be days when you don't feel like running and you'll have an excuse for getting out of your workout. Resist the temptation to skip it, remember your goal of running your half marathon, and get yourself out there running. You'll feel better once you're out there. You may have a bad run every once in a while, but a good one can't be too far off. Plan ways to maintain your motivation, such as treating yourself to new running gear or running in shorter races as part of your training.
Also see: 8 Ways to Enjoy Running and Race More

5. Cross-train.

Hip Flexor Stretch for Runners
Photo by Eddie Collins/Getty Images
Logging miles is obviously an important part of training for a half marathon, but doing too much can lead to injury and overall burnout. You can also build fitness and reduce injuries with cross training, which is any activity that supplements your running. Strength-training, especially your core and lower body, will help you become more injury-resistant and improve your strength for the long runs. Other excellent cross-training activities for runners include swimming, cycling, elliptical trainer, water running, yoga, and Pilates.

6. Be prepared for your long runs.

Women running with water
Photo by Zia Soleil
Your weekly long runs will help prepare you physically and mentally for your half marathon. Before your long runs, you'll want to make sure you eat and hydrate properly. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water -- you'll know you're well-hydrated if your urine is a pale yellow. Aim for about 65% of calories from carbs during the two days leading up to your long run.
Also see: Mental Tips for Long Runs
Tips to Make Your Long Runs Easier

7. Run with others.

women running
Brand X Pictures
Training and racing is more fun if you do it with a running group or a friend or family member. Running with others will keep you on track and motivated to stick to your training. Many charity running groups offer training for specific half marathons, so you can train with others and also help a good cause.
More: Tips for Running With Your Significant Other
How to Find a Running Group

Also see: Road Race Etiquette Tips
Mental Tips for Your Half Marathon
How Long Will It Take to Run a Half Marathon?
13 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon
What's a Good Time for a Half Marathon?
13 Things to Know Before Running a Half Marathon
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