Signing yourself up for a challenge or race can be a wonderful motivator in reaching your exercise goals. The drive to perform well in a race can help you get excited to jump out of bed in the morning to train every day!
When advancing to longer races, a whole new set of factors come into play. Although there is still the need to train your lungs and muscles there is also a greater mental challenge. Whether you're training to run your first 5K or first full marathon, these tips will keep you in the right mindset for success.
Top 8 Tips for Running Your First Half Marathon
[Credit: Brooks, Amanda. 18 Things I Wish Id Known Before My First Half Marathon. Run to the Finish.]
Start hydrating early.
Of course drinking plenty of water and electrolyte drinks is important during your run, but making sure your body is well hydrated doesn't just begin on race day. Start ramping up your water intake the week before your race to make sure your body is beginning at peak hydration to maximize your performance and prevent dehydration.
Lay out your supplies.
Race day isn't the time to roll out of bed and throw on whatever is nearby. Set out everything you may need the night before your race, including clothing, race map, snacks, energy packets, fanny pack, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, layers, etc. You have enough to think about on race day without having to worry about your gear.
Be ready for chafing.
Chafing can occur between your thighs, under your arms, and anywhere that clothing is fitted against your skin. With longer races (and more sweating) this can be very uncomfortable. Using a product such as Body Glide is a great way to prevent any chafing or blisters on race day.
Consider the weather.
Be prepared with light layers and sweat-wicking fabrics, as the beginning of your race will probably be chilly but warm up fast. Rain, although not ideal, can be a fun challenge and not as terrible as you might think. Also think about how hardcore you'll feel for finishing your first half marathon in a downpour.
Take it slow.
There is a lot of adrenaline and excitement that surrounds race day, and the energy of other runners can greatly influence how quickly you rocket off that starting line. However, it's important to pace yourself and take your time. It's much better to keep a steady pace that's right for you and pass everyone closer to the finish line anyway!
Don't beat yourself up if others are passing you. You have no idea how long other runners have been training or what their athletic abilities are. And try not to get discouraged if you have to stop and walk at any point in time, or don't finish in your goal time. Think about how far you've come and how much stronger you are now. Focus on how amazing it is that you're doing this for yourself.
Never give up.
Even when you feel like quitting, shift your focus to all of the reasons you started on this journey. Remember that others are probably feeling the same way, and trudging through those same thoughts of quitting when things get tough. Turn to another person that's struggling and cheer them on. They may need it as much as you do! (This tip does not apply if you're injured. It's better to stop rather than hurt yourself further.)
You're surrounded by fellow runners, there's going to be free food at the end, and you're doing something healthy that feels good. Have fun while you're doing it, and celebrate your success!