The UtahRUNNING.com Expert Panel received a request to provide a list of “7 things to do before running a half marathon,” so that is what I originally set out to answer in this article. However, while running with the high school girls I coach and discussing this topic with them, they helped me realize seven tips were just not enough. In fact, they insisted that I list 13.1 tips for preparing to run a half marathon (makes sense, right?) Thanks, girls, for the inspiration and for making me laugh everyday!
13.1 Tips to Consider When Running a Half Marathon:
1) Train Smart. Be consistent and gradually build your mileage. Work in some interval workouts, tempo runs, and long runs into your training regime.
2) Keep It the Same. The week of the half marathon is not the time to try something new. Don’t change what has been working for you. Obviously, your workouts should be lighter, but you should still run the days that you normally run, stretch, eat relatively the same, etc.
3) Hydrate/Sleep. Besides keeping your routine the same, it is also a good idea to put extra focus on being well hydrated (urine should always be clear) and to get plenty of sleep in the weeks prior to your big race.
4) Plan for Your Race. Before race day arrives, work out the details of your race in your mind. Visualize it–your pace, when to make a move, and how you will handle tough spots in the race (hills, mile 9/10, etc.). Consider different scenarios and how you will react to each one. Come up with some things you could tell yourself or remind yourself of when the pain starts to set in and you need some inspiration. Decide when you are going to refuel and know where the aid stations are in your race (For example: “There is an aid station at mile 7. I’m going to plan on taking an energy gel just before I get there). The night before race day eat a solid meal (pasta, rice, potatoes…whatever works for you). Make sure you don’t eat too late. I like to eat around 5:30 or 6:00 the night before to give my food plenty of time to digest before I go to sleep. The best way to know what and when to eat is to try different strategies with your training runs so you know what will work for you on race day. Have all of your race gear (shoes, clothes, number, energy gels, etc.) ready to go the night before, so you aren’t rushed in the morning.