The 7 Keys to Running a Half Marathon You’ll Enjoy

© Jeff Ferguson |

1) Dress rehearsal

No matter what distance your race is, run in every stitch of your race gear 2-3 weeks prior to the event. If there are any tweaks to be made, you will have time to get in another run in the modified gear.

For longer events, make sure that your hydration and nutrition intake will mirror what you do on race day.

Hopefully you have been doing this throughout your training, but use the same gels and/or hydration mix you plan to intake on race day so there are no surprises.

2) Race week prep

Get as much sleep as possible and stick to your taper plan. If your legs are feeling fresh and you are antsy to run workouts faster, stay strong and save it for race day.

Keep your diet as normal as possible and stick to what you are used to eating. If your mileage is severely reduced, make plans to fill the extra time by seeing a movie or catching up on a book.

3) 24-hour countdown

Pick up your bib early enough that you have plenty of time to prepare or eat a balanced dinner. Put all of your gear out that you will need on race morning to ensure that you are not rushing around in the morning.

If you have been able to get good sleep the week of the race, don’t fret about lost sleep on race night – just try to get as much as race nerves will allow.

4) Stick with your plan…

Use a pace band or watch setting to stay on pace throughout the entire race. Eat your gels or consume your hydration mix at the pre-chosen intervals even if you don’t feel as though you want or need them.

5) …but be flexible

If you start to feel good, wait until the last 10-20% of the distance to push your pace harder. A negative split is far more preferable than a bonk.

If you start to feel bad and have to slow down, have a backup plan if things start to go south.

Though no one wants to have to entertain a “B” or “C” goal, not every race will go as planned. The longer the distance, the more likely something can go awry so runners must be prepared for each situation.

6) Stay positive

Remember that you can do it. If you start with negative self-talk, it becomes hard to climb out of the hole. Have a positive mantra that you can repeat to yourself when things start to get difficult.

Even if you don’t fully believe yourself at the time, it can be helpful to distract yourself if you find yourself struggling.

7) Keep moving

Even if you begin to slow down, don’t stop moving. You might have to back off the pace, but that doesn’t mean that your race is over. Sometimes you just need a reset of the mind and body to get back into race. Take a few steps to recharge and then get back to it!

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on StravaInstagram and her blog.

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