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7 Simple Tips To Prepare For A Half Marathon

Running 13.1 miles can be overwhelming! Here are 7 simple and easy tips to help you prepare for a half marathon and run your best race!

It was just three short years ago that I ran my first half marathon. I have run a total of 14 half marathons at this point with some more on the calendar for this year!

I have learned some hard lessons while running these races and I am sharing them with you today. Running a half marathon may SEEM like an impossible feat for some but when you put in the right training and have all of your bases covered, you will have a great time!

7 Simple Tips To Prepare For A Half Marathon

Study The Route: This is VERY important. My first half marathon was an out and back race (twice). It was totally flat but I didn’t know how boring it would be to run the same route over and over. Know where your hills are so that you can mentally prepare, it is so helpful mentally to know the course before you go out and attack it!

Know Your Water Stations: Unless you carry your own water make a note of where the water stations are. I know that I need water after the first mile, there have been many races where water station simply wasn’t an option logistically (roads, etc.) so I know to start with a bottle of water that I will eventually get rid of once the water stations become more regular.

Mile 10 Is The Devil – I have never met a Mile 10 that was not. Prepare for it.

Find A Good Way To Carry Fuel – There are tons of options available, from flip belts, to fanny packs to simply carrying what ever you need in your bra. I’ve noticed what works best for me is either my marathon fanny pack, or simply having pockets in my race gear. Skirt Sports is fantastic for this and keeps all my fuel and even my phone in the skirt pocket.

Eat Your Breakfast – Sometimes in the rush of getting out of the door and to my location I have forgotten to eat breakfast. I paid for it every single time. To prevent making this mistake of not eating before a race make sure you set up your breakfast the night before!

Test Your Race Day Gear – This is an old tip, but it’s a true one. Gear that might be good for 4 miles may not be so good for 13.1!

Warm Up: This is important. I didn’t realize how important it was to warm up until I ran a few miles before a race for marathon training, and ended up running better than I ever have. Most times I don’t end up feeling all that great in a race until mile 3. Warming up makes a huge difference! (6 Dynamic Warm Ups For Runners).

Building a Mental Game Plan: The Importance of Mindset When Trying To Prepare For A Half Marathon

Preparing for a half marathon isn’t just about logging miles and tapering before the big day. It’s also about developing the mental fortitude to handle the challenges that come your way during the race. Mental preparation is just as crucial as physical training, and it’s often the aspect that differentiates seasoned runners from novices. A strong mental game plan can help you push through fatigue, cope with discomfort, and even find that elusive “runner’s high.”

Goal Setting: Long-Term and Short-Term

When it comes to long-distance running, having a clear set of goals can guide your training and race-day strategies. These goals can range from completing the race without stopping, to achieving a personal best time. Break your primary goal down into smaller, more manageable objectives that you can aim for during training runs and on race day. Goals give you something to focus on when the going gets tough, steering your mind away from discomfort or thoughts of quitting.

Visualization and Positive Affirmation

Many elite athletes swear by the power of visualization as a tool for mental preparation. Spend time imagining each stage of the race, from the starting line to the midpoint and finally crossing the finish line. Visualize not just the route but also how you will feel at each point. Will you conserve energy early on? How will you manage fatigue in the later miles? Accompany these visual images with positive affirmations like “I am strong,” “I can do this,” or “I am prepared,” to boost your confidence and mental resilience.

Develop a Race-Day Strategy

Having a well-thought-out race-day plan can provide a sense of control, reducing anxiety and nervousness. Know your pacing, hydration, and fueling strategies beforehand. Decide when you’ll take walking breaks if you plan on including them. When you have a strategy, you have something to focus on, which can be comforting when faced with the unpredictability of race day.

Managing Anxiety and Nerves

It’s natural to feel nervous or anxious before a big race, but letting these emotions get out of hand can sabotage your performance. Deep-breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, and even listening to calming music are ways to manage pre-race jitters. Practicing these calming techniques in the days leading up to the race and on the morning of the event can prepare your mind for the challenge ahead.

Embrace the Suffering

Let’s face it: at some point during the half marathon, you’re likely to experience discomfort, fatigue, or both. Accepting this fact beforehand can mentally prepare you to handle these inevitable rough patches. When you hit a tough spot, have a series of mental cues or mantras to help you stay focused and push through. Phrases like “This too shall pass” or “Pain is temporary” can be surprisingly effective at providing a psychological boost.

Lean on the Running Community

The collective energy of other runners and spectators can be a powerful mental asset. Engage with the running community in the lead-up to the race, whether it’s by joining a training group, participating in online forums, or simply chatting with fellow runners on race day. Drawing on the collective enthusiasm and support can uplift your spirits and provide that extra push when you need it the most.

Post-Race Reflection and Recovery

After the race, take time to reflect on both your physical and mental performance. What strategies worked well? What mental hurdles did you face, and how did you overcome them? This reflection will not only provide a sense of closure for the current race but also serve as a valuable learning experience for future events.

Mental preparation is a key component of successfully completing a half marathon. By adopting a multifaceted approach that includes goal setting, visualization, strategy planning, and emotional management, you set the stage for not just finishing the race, but possibly exceeding your own expectations.

Check out these 7 Tips To Prepare For Your First Half Marathon! Run your best race and be as prepared as you can!

What are some more fun running posts to check out?

What would you add to the list to prepare for a half marathon? Did you learn anything new?


Friday 10th of March 2017

That's interesting! I wonder what it is about mile 10 that makes it not good for anyone. Is it physical or emotional or both? I would think water stations is key!


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

I ran with my own hydration and fuel for years before I started trusting aid stations. :) Now I run with my own hydration for marathons but for half marathons I usually leave the belt at home.


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Warming up - definitely learnt the importance of it. Helps me get into racing groove sooner, rather than later. Thanks for sharing these tips at such an opportune time as I tackle my first half in a couple of days.


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Good luck to you!!


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Carrying fuel properly is so important! I've had too many races where I was juggling my fuel - awkward!


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Omg me too!!


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Isn't that the truth about mile 10? That must be why I love 10 mile races! LOL!


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Haha makes total sense