Jamie and I signed up for the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon! It’s not until September, but sign ups are already 73% full — it’s a very popular race! Probably because you get to take photos along the way, like this:
I know you want to run it with me!
When it comes to half marathons, I’m certainly not an expert. I’ve only done one — the Disneyland half marathon last year. But even as a running newbie, I have a few tips for you if you’re interested in signing up for a half marathon, or any race:
1. Don’t let the mileage intimidate you. Yes, 13.1 miles sounds like a LOT of miles. That’s because it is! But think about all of the people who have run half marathons, marathons, or even ultramarathons. They were all new to running at one point, too. If the mileage was easy, it wouldn’t be much of an accomplishment, would it? Everyone has to start somewhere, so stop letting the intimidation factor sideline you and start letting it motivate you! You can do this!
2. Have a plan. It’s a pretty amazing tool we have now, the Internet. Fifteen years ago, if I wanted information about how to train for a half marathon, I’d probably have asked my mom to drive me to the library. Today, a few clicks and I have hundreds of webpages telling me exactly what to do. For example, last year Jamie and I picked out Hal Higdon’s 12-week half marathon training for newbies (Novice 1).
Did we complete the training perfectly? Hell no! Work got crazy for me, so I left out a lot of runs, and Jamie injured his knee, so he took it easier in the weeks before the race. And that’s okay! Hal Higdon is the first to say that it is okay to move the trainings around or modify them to work with your schedule. I know that a massive 12-week calendar like this can look intimidating (especially the long runs on Sundays!) but just take it one day at a time and you’ll be running further than you’d ever imagined, and in no time at all.
Also, make sure to pick a plan that works for you. Some plans, like the one above, incorporate strength training while others only incorporate running. Some spread the training out over the whole week while others consolidate training over a few days each week to better accommodate some schedules. Find the plan that appeals to you and that you know you can follow. Browse running sites for ideas! Here are a few sites to get you started:
- Marathon Rookie – Half Marathon Training for Beginners (running only; mileage goals only)
- Jeff Galloway – Half Marathon Training (running only; alternate between mileage and duration goals)
- Hal Higdon – Training Programs for All Levels and Distances (running and cross training)
- Run the Line – Half Marathon Training Programs and Tips (different programs based on goals and schedules)
3. Train before you train. If running even just one mile is a foreign concept to you, then you have some pre-training training to do! Most training programs, like Hal Higdon’s above, will tell you that you need to be in certain running shape before you even begin. Some say you should be able to run for 30 minutes straight, others say you should be able to run 3 miles without stopping. Whatever the milestone may be, make sure to leave yourself enough time to build up to that point before your program begins. Hey, if you’re interested in the Disneyland half marathon in September and if you want to do a 12-week program, there is still plenty of time to condition!
4. Stay safe. Running can be great for your health, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not taking the proper precautions. I take after my mom in that I’m a major worrier, so I’ve made a list of running dangers that you should consider before heading out there on a jog:
- Sustenance! Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water before, after, and even during your runs. Also, make sure to eat a light but fuel-full snack before going on longer treks.
- Invest in a pair of comfortable running shoes that support your feet and ankles. Not sure what kind of shoes work best for you? Visit a fancy shoe place like RoadRunner Sports. They’ll analyze your feet and the way that you run, and the analysis is free. Invest in yourself, and you can walk away with custom insoles and a pair of running shoes that are perfect for your running style. It may cost you a pretty penny now, but think of all of the cost and pain you are avoiding in the long run by protecting your body proactively!
- If you enjoy running outside, ditch the headphones. I love running to music, but it makes avoiding cars and scary men in unmarked white vans that much more difficult.
- On that note, if you run outside, you should always bring your phone. That way, if any trouble arises (like a sprained ankle), you’re not stranded on the side of the road.
- If you are unsure about whether you are healthy enough to start a running program, make sure to consult a doctor beforehand.
5. Stay motivated… by getting others motivated! Left to my own devices, I tend to get super excited about new things and then tire of them quickly. Whether it be a new CD, video game, dieting… you name it, I’ve burnt out on it. Exercise is no exception. But nothing helps to keep me excited about exercise more than when I plan to exercise with a friend. So the first thing I did this year when I decided to sign up for the Disneyland half marathon was to invite all of my friends to do it with me! And guess what — a ton of them are! Knowing that I’m not in this alone keeps me motivated to condition and makes the task of running 13.1 miles a little less daunting (:
6. Pull the trigger already! Maybe you’ve been thinking about running a race, whether it be a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon — whatever. Thinking, debating, mulling over whether to do it. Here’s what you should do: stop thinking about it and just sign up already! Once you do, it will force you to focus, make a plan, and take your goal more seriously.
So what are you waiting for? What race(s) are you going to run this year?