Oct | 13
Inspiration, Running Tips, Shoes & Gear

5 Tips for Running Your First Half-Marathon

Kristen at the Capitol City Half-Marathon, Columbus, OH

A photo from my win at the Capitol City Half-Marathon, Columbus, OH

Thinking about running a half-marathon? I decided to run my first half-marathon about a year ago. Since then, I have raced four half-marathons and managed to win three of them. I learned many lessons the hard way from these races. So, from one runner to another, here are five tips that may help you get to the finish line of your first half-marathon just a little faster and a little happier:

  1. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. And I’m not just talking about the day of your race. Hydrate the day before as well. Most half-marathons begin before 9am, and it can be difficult to get hydrated in time for your race if you wake up thirsty. Particularly focus on staying hydrated when the weather is hot and humid! To avoid being over-hydrated, switch from chugging to sipping water one hour before the start of your race. This will allow time for extra water to exit your body before the gun goes off. Check with your doctor or coach for specific hydration advice.
  2. Have a mantra! You’ve probably heard it said that running is a “mental sport”. Beat your negative thoughts by preparing a positive mantra in advance. That way when you’re climbing a steep hill around mile 11 you can run to the beat of “I can and I will, I can and I will” instead of negative thoughts. Two of my other favorite mantras are “This is for my family,” and “I am strong and I am fast”.
  3. Don’t eat the energy gel unless you’ve practiced with it! When overly enthusiastic race volunteers attempt to shove Gu or other running fuel into your hand around mile 8, it can be tempting to take the little treat. However, if you have never tried eating these types of foods in the middle of a workout or have never sampled a specific brand or flavor of energy gel, don’t take it during a race! It is better to be safe and go with your normal refueling habits with the foods you are used to, then to have your stomach complaining a mile down the road.
  4. Choose your socks and shoes carefully. Investing in quality shoes is a obvious choice. I wear the Adrenlaine GTS and also own a host of racing flats. However, don’t forget about the other essential gear for your feet–socks. My preference is to race in a thicker style, like the Brooks Wool/Bamboo Infiniti sock. Choose a pair that work best for you. Your feet will thank you!
  5. Dedicate the race to a person or cause. At some point during every race I ask myself “Why am I doing this!? This is not natural!” Dedicating the race to a person (a parent, spouse, or teammate) or cause (the fight against breast cancer) can be extremely motivating. After all, it’s a lot harder to give up when you’re running for someone or something you love.
These are five things I learned while training and running half-marathons. What tips would you offer someone running their first half marathon? Add a comment below.

About Kristen
Kristen has worked for Brooks since summer 2011 and is an addicted runner. She ran in the Big 10 conference for The Ohio State University where she recently finished her master’s degree in Communication. Kristen is now running half-marathons (with a PR of 1:18:41) and full marathons (2:45:46). Kristen is a 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier.
  1. Mary Baum

    Another tip I always have to remind myself is to keep track of mileage on my shoes. When I train for higher mileage races, my shoes wear out much quicker. I am much more likely to get injured if I do not need track. If a quick shoe change is all I need to prevent plantar fasciitis, then I am a ok with that!

    • Armyafmedical

      Thanks Mary. I am training for my first half being held in one month and just wore out my first pair of Brooks from all the training. I took some advise I read a few months ago and bought a second pair one month after buying the first pair. I’m glad I heeded that advice.


    Hi!  So I have a question about shoes…Do you train in your adrenalines and then race in one of the flats?  Does that mess you up at all if you switch the type of shoe before a race?  I’m training in ghosts, but am looking at the pure project products and would really like one of the lightweight shoes for races, but I’ve always heard that you should race in what you train in???  help!  🙂

    • Joel Ballezza, Brooks

      @585ec40907752d3dcb0cf743c02c11d9:disqus It depending on your running gait, goals and progress in your training on whether to switch to a racing flat or not. We suggest you stop by a retailer for tips. You can also send us a message in customer service for additional advice http://bit.ly/brooksCS

  3. Half-Crazed Runner

    I love half marathons! You just can’t go out and run one, like a 5K or 10K – you must train. And 13.1mi is a good distance  – endurance without tummy-aches! I have run all my half marathons in Brooks Ghost! The toe box fits, the heel doesn’t slide – I never get toe bruises, plantar fasciitis, blisters or calluses. Just, love ’em! <3

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