Beginner half marathon tips from an average runner

So, like probably a lot of other runners, I’m always looking online for new tips and hints for the next race I’m doing. I thought I’d put together a few of my own tips that I’ve learnt along the way which will hopefully help at least one other runner out there.

Get a good training programme

This is really important. No matter what standard of runner you are, using a programme will make it 10x easier. Each run will have a purpose and you’ll see your running improve so much. There are loads of free ones online or you can also invest in a personalised one from a coach.

Learn the course and adapt to it

I’ve done Reading Half Marathon three times now and the two hills are still tough. But, they’re not as tough as they would’ve been if I wasn’t prepared for them and hadn’t trained for them. Also, don’t just train running uphill, make sure you can control your form going downhill. Different courses have all sorts of challenges, like lots of corners, or really long flat boring roads. So just make sure you research the course or maybe ask other people that’ve already done the race before.

Find the right shoes and socks for you

Buying good running shoes doesn’t have to mean buying the most expensive. It just means going to your local store and getting a gait analysis. They’ll be able to suggest shoes based on the way you run and what your feet/body need. This could be the difference between you getting injured through bad form or you smashing your training because you have the correct kit. Also, make sure you find a pair of socks that work for you. Some are really thin and light but some are thicker and offer more protection.

Get ready the night before

Not literally.. Don’t sleep in your full race kit. If you’re on Instagram you’ve probably already seen everyone doing a ‘flat lay’. I find that doing this really helps because you’re unlikely to miss anything out once it’s all in-front of you. Plus you get to show off your shiny new shoes (example below).

Control your adrenaline rush at the beginning!

I’ve done this so many times and you’ve probably read this a lot, but it’s so important. Unless you’re lucky and have insane strength, you’re likely to hit a wall if you go off too fast and try to maintain it. It is hard to keep to your pace, especially when everyone around is overtaking you. BUT, you’re likely to be overtaking them in the last few miles when you still have energy and they don’t. In my last half, I tried to go off at just a bit slower than my race pace which really helped.

Embrace and appreciate the crowds

What continues to surprise me about races is the amount of people that will stand on a street corner cheering on random people. In my most recent race, I went to high five a kid but missed. He was competing with his pals on who could get the most high fives so I made sure I went back and did it again. Probably not the best thing to do if you want a PB but it made the kid happy so it’s all good. I personally get a huge boost when running through crowds, especially when they shout your name. So embrace it and use it to your advantage.

Support other runners

You’re not racing the other thousands of people, so support them because one day it could be you that needs the help. I once saw a guy stop and start walking, looking devastated. So I offered him my lucozade and gave him some encouragement. We then ran the next mile together and it was a huge boost for both of us. I’ve also been the guy that needed help and I know how much of a difference it makes when someone encourages you. At the Wokingham Half, a guy helped me through the last mile which was amazing. Turned out he also needed help, so it was a win for both of us.

Enjoy it and be proud

Whatever happens during the race, just enjoy it. I know that’s easier said than done but just being able to take part in the race is an amazing thing. If it didn’t go to plan, use it as motivation for your next one. If it’s going well, make sure you embrace it and have a good time. At the end of it all, be proud. Be proud of what you’ve done because I can guarantee other people will be proud of you.

That’s my half marathon tips for beginners. Get in touch if you need anything, hopefully I’ll have an answer! Thanks for reading, peace.

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