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13.1 Tips to Consider When Running a Half Marathon

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.

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Should I run a half marathon before a marathon?

Expert Panel Question???


“I’m planning on running the Ogden Marathon this May and am wondering about racing beforehand. Particularly, I’m wondering if I should do a 1/2 marathon race 6 weeks before the marathon or just use that half marathon as a training run?”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts here)


The amount of time it takes to recover from racing is different for everyone. Some bounce back relatively quickly, while others recover more slowly. The general rule is that it takes about one day to recover for every mile that you race. So, it will take almost two weeks for you to be fully recovered from a half marathon.

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What are the essentials for a 10k trail run?

Nutritionally, it is important to make sure you fuel adequately for the time you will be running, not for the distance. Trail races can be significantly slower than road races. If possible, run the course before you race it. If you don’t have an opportunity to run it, look on-line for any course elevation profiles, photos, or descriptions that are available. Also look at race times from previous years to determine a realistic pace that you can expect to run. Race duration will determine whether a pre-race meal is sufficient to meet your energy needs, or if you need to bring something along for mid-race refueling. Refer to Debbie Perry’s article on pre-race nutrition for more details.

As for equipment, it’s important to be prepared for a variety of conditions. Just like any outdoor race, you should bring layered, synthetic clothing for hot or cold, wet or dry weather. Unlike the road or track, however, you also need to prepare for highly variable terrain. Trail conditions can deteriorate overnight with a sudden storm. Bring shoes for any scenario you can reasonably anticipate. Here in the Mountain West, trail racers or trail trainers are usually sufficient. But if you prefer a lighter, more flexible shoe, there’s nothing wrong with using a road trainer or even a road racing flat on the trails (ideally one with decent traction in the outsole). If you’re on grassy, soft trails like those typically found in the East or Pacific Northwest, it may even be appropriate to wear a cross country or track spike.

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Personal Hurdles: A Practical Approach for Consistency

About a year ago I read a research study that tracked changes in body weight of people participating in road races (running) for the first time (since there was an observed surge in the number of people running races throughout the U.S.) The study was considered important by the researchers because if more people running races was in any way related to improving the racers’ health, then efforts to increase road race participation might be a good way to improve public health. In other words, the researchers wanted to know if people were signing up for and running races as a motivator to start exercising more, and whether or not they actually were exercising more as a result of running races.

Did racing improve health?

The researchers actually learned that even over the first couple of years following peoples’ first experiences running races, these people generally experienced no improvements in body weight. Now, I think there were several things in this study that could have been done better, but I still think there was a potentially accurate message of great value.

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UtahRunning.com Press Release

Newly Launched UtahRunning.com Provides a Comprehensive Resource for Runners and Athletes

UtahRunning.com is a new website for running enthusiasts. This online resource features a community for runners as well as a comprehensive resource of races in Utah.

February 5, 2010 Salt Lake City, Utah – UtahRunning.com, officially launched on January 15th 2010, aims to become the premiere destination for Utah runners, athletes and race coordinators. As this new website seeks to encourage more people to run and lead a healthy lifestyle, UtahRunning.com provides useful tools dedicated to all things related to running. Resources include a list of upcoming races in Utah, and an expert panel of doctors, nutritionists, athletes, and coaches who answer questions about running.

UtahRunning.com’s expert panel includes twenty of the top running, fitness and health experts in all of Utah. Web visitors can ask their running related questions and get quality, informative answers. These experts include Olympic athlete Lindsay Anderson, who qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Bejing and represented the US in two World Championship events in Osaka and Berlin. Other experts include Paul Pilkington who is the Weber State University Head Distance Coach and Steve Scharmann who is a Sports Medicine physician currently practicing in Ogden.

UtahRunning.com is a centralized destination seeking to provide essential information to tourists and locals alike. In general, Utah is considered to be one of the top states for running enthusiasts. For example, recently, Runner’s World named Utah’s St. George Marathon one of the top four choices for “Marathons to Build a Vacation Around.” Further, Runner’s World ranked this marathon as one of the “10 Most Scenic and Fastest Marathon” and “Top 20 Marathons in the USA.” Running competitions take place year-round throughout the state in areas including Moab, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, as well as the cities of Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden. UtahRunning.com welcomes race coordinators and directors to visit the website and submit information about upcoming races in Utah.

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What should I eat before a race?

Pre-Race Nutrition

After all the training that has been done leading up to your big event, the last mistake you would want to make race morning is with your pre race nutrition.   There are some athletes who decide that they want to skip all the confusion and try not eating.  While this may work for a morning 5K, it gets more risky with a 10K and down right nonsense for a half-marathon/marathon or triathlon.  There have been several studies done that repeatedly show substantial increases in performance with proper fueling before an event.  In addition to increasing performance and topping off glycogen (energy) stores, a pre race meal will also help avoid hunger, stabilize blood sugar (especially in those who are sugar sensitive), hydrate the body, still leave your stomach empty by race time and help prevent gastrointestinal distress when done correctly.  So in other words, you will feel and perform better.  The key is to customize your eating habit based on your weight, race distance and food sensitivities.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow for a pre-race morning:

  1. Consume .5-1 gram of carbs per lb of body weight the morning of race[i].  For longer races stick to the 1 gram/lb. At least half of it in solid food eaten no later than 2 hours before the race.  The rest of the requirement can be taken in the form of a pre race hydration drink (see below) between 90-30 minutes prior to start time. There are some extra sensitive people that can only do liquids the morning of and that is OK(especially for short, less than 40 minutes, and high intensity racing) Some people keep a packet of gel to take 10-15 minutes before if they can tell they need a little more, so carry one just in case.
  2. Choose a solid food meal that is low to moderate in glycemic value. This is a key piece that will help keep your blood sugar stable before and during the race.  One reason some people feel hungry right before the start is that their pre event breakfast was way to high in simple sugars (i.e.: fruit loops, white breads, candy.) which caused a hypoglycemic reaction. People seem to be more sensitive to this blood sugar drop on race day.  With a lower glycemic meal, a steady stream of fuel will be released into the muscle during the first part of the race and allow your body to wait until later to use the other carbs you have stored up in the days before.
  3. Avoid high fat and high protein meals. This will slow down the absorption of carbs too much and then you end up trying to race on a full stomach. Yuck! That would be a gastrointestinal disaster. Some “lighter” protein is OK in order to reduce the glycemic index of a meal and make it “stick.” Acceptable protein would be eggs or whey protein, which are both easily digestible.
  4. Keep the fiber intake low. This would not be good time for a bean burrito. No explanation needed, ehh?
  5. Drink 12-24 oz. of fluid, stopping about 30 min. before race start. If you eat mostly solid food, then your fluid choice will be water.  But for some athletes, some or all fluids will be in the form of a hydration drink.

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