8 Tips for First-Time Half Marathoners

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Racing should be a fun experience for runners. It is the culmination of weeks, months, and sometimes even years of effort.

But if you are new to racing, it can be daunting. Everyone seems to know what they are doing and assumes that all runners have the same amount of experience.

There are plenty of things to consider pre- and post-race as well, but here are my favorite tips while racing:

1) Start slow

If you’ve positioned yourself in the correct place, runners around you should be going at the same pace. Resist the urge to go out too fast — especially in the first mile. You’ll thank yourself later in the race when you have the energy to finish.

2) Run the tangents

Avoid weaving if possible. Not only will this cut down on extra mileage, but it will keep you from running too fast, too soon. By the time the field spreads out, you’ll be able to pass people without covering extra ground.

3) Avoid road camber

Stay to the side of the road or atop the middle to avoid the camber of the road. It can put your body at an odd angle for running and make later miles uncomfortable.

4) Approach hydration stops with caution

If you need hydration, be aware of which side of the course to position yourself in before the table. Look behind you when making a movement that is not directly forward. List for volunteers calling out water or sports drink. Reaffirm your choice by calling out what you want if unsure.

5) Avoid pile-ups

If you need to slow down or walk near the hydration stop (or otherwise!), look behind you and move to the extreme right or left so others can easily pass.

Do not stop in front of the table or any place where volunteers are handing out cups. It’s already a high traffic area and gets worse if people do not clear out fast enough.

6)Pinch and pour

Pinch the sides of the cup to pour more liquid into your mouth and less into your nose. Pour out any excess if the cup is fuller than you need. If the day is warm, dump water over your head and neck to cool off.

7) Toss gently

Some races have large trash cans for cups, some have volunteers to sweep the streets. Toss your cup in an appropriate receptacle whenever possible and always pours out liquid before you toss.

I think it goes without saying to look before tossing, but I’ve been hit with a cup before, so perhaps it is good to always reiterate!

8) Avoid being a roadblock

Running with friends is awesome. Just avoid creating a barrier that makes it tough for other runners to pass if you are running side-by-side. Never run more than 2 abreast in a race and if the course is narrow, avoid it all together.

Editor’s note: I posted this to our Twitter feed today, and saw this great response, which I thought worth adding here:

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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