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Posts Tagged ‘Half Marathon Training’

January 8, 2015

10 Things You Need To Train for a Half Marathon

Over the past couple of years, I have received a number of questions about training for half marathons.

I could still write a post or two on specific tips sharing what I do differently during training periods, but today I wanted to focus on the basics of what you need to equip yourself with. This post has been a long time coming!

things you need to train for a half marathon

• a quality pair (or two) of running shoes fit for YOU

If you aren’t sure exactly what style or kind of running shoe works best for your foot and stride, don’t be afraid to ask! Pop into your local running store and ask them for their suggestions. Some will even give you a complimentary gait analysis right there in the store.

When I know I’ll be running longer distances (6+ miles), I turn to Mizuno sneakers. I was fitted in a running store for the Mizuno Wave Enigma and often rotate them with my Mizuno Wave Rider 18 sneakers.

Mizuno waverider18 stretch

Rotating between two or more shoes can extend the life of your shoes. I’ve heard of some people buying two pairs of the exact same shoe in order to rotate them. Do what works best for you!

Also, be careful about sizing. I wear a size 7 street shoe, so I go up to at least an 8 when I order running shoes for training. The extra space helps prevent rubbing and blistering.

• running shoe insoles

I noticed a huge difference on my first run with shoe inserts. The insoles that come in your running shoes lack durability and are likely to retain wetness (sweat) and odor. Simply replacing your insoles can extend your running shoe shelf life a few months, depending on how much you use them.

running shoe insoles

See the difference?

I use SPENCO POLYSORB Crosstrainer Replacement Soles and love them.

Some people insert their insoles on top of the ones that already come in the shoe. If you get a quality pair fit for training, there’s no need to double up. I replace my running insoles every time I train for a new long distance race, or when I replace my most used pair of training shoes.

• proper attire for your climate

I can’t stress layering enough for those of you running in colder climates. Here are my suggestions on running gear for winter running. If you are afraid you might want to strip layers mid-run, consider running a loop by your house to drop them off and de-layer. I do that all the time.

Starting the race Clarkston Back Roads Half

In the same regard, it’s important to dress in shorts and a tank top if it’s really hot out. For both hot and cold climates, I always prefer wearing moisture wicking (dri-fit) materials. If it’s sunny out, I also wear a hat and would love to invest in a good pair of polarized running sunglasses like these or these.

• water and sports drinks

It’s so important for you to stay hydrated on your training runs. My stomach has always done better by drinking mostly water, but some prefer to mix it up with water and gatorade or other sports drinks high in electrolytes.

If my run is under an hour, I always stick to plain water. If I know it’s going to be over an hour, however, I’ll try to mix in a little bit of Gatorade to my bottle. Anywhere past the one hour mark is said to be when your body needs those extra electrolytes.

There have definitely been times where I take water with me and hide it somewhere I know I can grab it again, just to make sure it’s out there.

taking water on long runs

Here are some interesting articles relating to how much you should be drinking (without overdoing it) on your runs:

» Q&A: How Much Water Should I REALLY Drink on a Long Run via Women’s Health Magazine

» Drink This via Runners World

» Running 101: Hydration During Running via Competitor

Some people hold their bottles and others prefer to wear them with hydration vests and running belts. There are also versions you can strap around your hand like this one.

• a rockin’ set of tunes

Music gives me a lot of motivation to get moving and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that! The first thing I want to do after I put a new workout or running playlist together is take it out for a test run.

When I have a good playlist or set of songs that I can sing along and dance to, running becomes a lot more fun to do. Especially the long ones!

winter 2015 workout and running music

Check out my latest Running Playlist for ideas of what keeps me moving during the cold winter months. You can listen and subscribe to my playlists online for free too!

• a plan you can stick to

If you are planning on running a half (or full) marathon any time soon, you need a plan of how to train for it. I had no idea how to start training for my first half in 2012 and literally googled “half marathon training plan” to find one.

I followed this 10 week training plan from MarathonRookie.com to the tee for my first go around and it worked really well for me. The second time I was training to run a half (two years later), I could already run six miles at a time, so I tweaked a few intermediate level plans I found online and made my own 6 week training plan.

6 week half marathon training plan

Please keep in mind, however, that this is designed for someone who can easily run a 10K or six miles at a time. If you are looking to train for your very first race, there are plenty of beginner training plans out there to guide you along the way. I would recommend starting small with a 5K (3.1 miles) and even go for a 10K to get you in the groove before going for a half distance, but the choice is completely up to you.

Here are a few beginner half training plans that look great:

» Half Marathon Training for Beginners via Runner’s World

» Step-By-Step Half-Marathon Training Schedule via Shape.com

» 4 Month Beginner Half Marathon Training Schedule via FitSugar

• fuel on your run

Anything over six miles is usually the point where I take fuel with me in the form of GU chomps or GU gels.

Gu chomps performance energy chews

There are tons of different brands and forms of fuel available. I have just always preferred chomps and gels. The Peanut Butter flavored Gu gel is delicious and one of the only flavors I really like.

Peanut Butter Gu Energy Gel

Since you can be out there running for hours at a time, it’s extremely important to replace the carbs your body is burning along the way.

I have a sensitive stomach, so I only consume about half of the recommended amount on the package. Unfortunately, the best way to find out how many you can or can’t have at a time is usually by trial and error. When I had the full amount, I had serious stomach issues.

If I knew I was going for a run over ten miles, I would have a chomp before my run, and one to two more during my run.

Here are a few articles with tips for fueling for runs:

» How to Fuel on a Run via Active

» Energy Gels for Runners via Runners Connect (great tips on how often to take them with sensitivities)

» How to Fuel For Your First Marathon via Runners World

• running socks

Quality running socks are a great way to save your feet during training!

new balance running socks

Here is a collection of great running socks tested and recommended by Runners World. I usually buy whatever I can find on sale at running or sporting good stores that have moisture wicking materials and compression.

• foam roller

I was introduced to foam rolling deep into my first time training for a half. Boy, do I wish I found out about it sooner!

foam rollers for runners

I bought the orange one at DICK’s over two years ago. I believe the current version they sell of it is purple, but there are tons of similar foam rollers to choose from. It was the best $30 investment ever!

I also have a Thera-roll 3.5″ firm roller to work out kinks in my feet. You can use it on your neck too! If you still have yet to try foam rolling, I strongly urge you to give it a try to save your muscles during those long training months. I continue to use mine every day!

• commitment

Training for long distance races can feel like a part-time job at times, especially when you get into marathons. It is imperative that you stick to your training plan as much as you can. Of course, life, travels, and unexpected events pop up along the way. It’s okay to skip a run here and there, but save those days for when you absolutely can’t help it.

i regret going for a run said no one ever

Avoid letting yourself skip one just because “you don’t feel like it”. You’ll be so happy you got out there and became one step closer to your goal when you finish!

You can always reference my post-training eats, training triumphs, and struggles by scrolling down to the half marathon training section on the Fitness page.

Other Suggestions

» massage stick roller (great to have at home and use with foam rolling)

» a pair of earbuds that won’t fall out (I use Koss Fit Series!)

» FlipBelt to hold any personal belongings

» activity tracker/fitness watch to track activity, distance and calories burned. See my suggestions!

» running apps on your smartphone (especially if you don’t have a fitness watch with GPS). I use RunKeeper and MapMyRun.

» time to stretch before and after each and every run! <- so important!


Please feel free to reach out with any specific questions in the comments section or via email. Best of luck in your training!

See you in back the morning with Friday Favorites. <3

*Disclaimer: Some affiliate links are included in this post. I really appreciate your support for this blog!

October 23, 2014

Detroit Free Press Half Marathon

I ran my second half marathon last weekend alongside my best friend, Alex!

I’m so incredibly proud of her.

2014 Detroit Free Press Half Marathon finish

She had never ran a long distance race before, and the longest distance she had ever run before training was six miles. It’s amazing what you can train your body to do with the proper plan and motivation!

Knowing we could both already tackle six miles, I put together a 6 Week Half-Marathon Training Plan specifically catered to our goals.

I had a goal of racing in 2 hours in the back of my mind, but my biggest one had always been to cross the finish line with my friend.

I honestly didn’t care about my time this go around.

Race Day

Since we had an early morning 4:00 a.m. wake up call, Alex spent the night before and we tried our best to get to bed early. It was hard! Both of us were anxious and excited to get to the race already.

By 5 a.m., we were out the door and on our way towards downtown Detroit. Word to the wise for anyone racing the Detroit Free Press next year… leave and plan to get there REALLY early.

We had a planned arrival time of 5:30 a.m. in order to be able to park and make it to the Hope Water Project tent by 5:45 a.m.

For whatever reason, neither of us predicted or factored in time for traffic getting off of the highway and on nearby streets to park. We intentionally passed the exit and eventually made it to a parking area close enough to the start line by taking any back road possible.

It wasn’t the safest feeling, and we ended up parking and walking towards the start line to find our group a whole thirty minutes later.

We saw the team flag walking over to the start around 6:15 a.m. and stopped into a hotel on the way to use the restroom before we ran.

We walked up to our predicted pace group with about fifteen minutes to spare before go time. It was a close call!

(In the future, we will plan to leave way earlier.)

13.1 Miles

The first wave of runners took off right at 7 a.m. We were in the 3rd wave and paced ourselves to run the half in 2 hours.

We felt eager and ready to get started!

ready to race detroit free press half 2014

I wasn’t a bit nervous this time around. I was more excited.

I was, however, nervous for Alex.

Endurance-wise, I knew she had this! She could easily keep up on our training runs and it was a challenge to keep up with her at times.

What I was mostly concerned about was her knee. She has an extremely tight IT-band on top of signs of Pronation Disorder Syndrome.

Only a couple weeks into training, she started telling me about the sharp pains on the outside and top of her knee. The pain would come and go, but when it hit she felt like she couldn’t keep running. This caused us to walk and even take sitting breaks during our longer training runs.

The week before the half, we ran our 11 mile training runs separately. When I asked her how hers went, it made me sad to hear that she couldn’t get past four miles! I knew she could run longer than that because I have done nine with her and without issues.

I felt so awful for her and I didn’t know what to do to help.

The best I could do was turn to the knowledge I acquired studying for my CPT and assume she has PDS. Her feet pronate (turn out) in her stride, so this can put a lot of pressure on her knees to try and compensate, which is likely to cause extreme discomfort and in some cases injury.

I’m no doctor, and I still advise her to get it checked out by a professional health care provider, but that was my best guess as to what was going on.

I gave her specific stretches, foam rolling, and strengthening exercises to do the week before the race to try and loosen her IT-band as much as possible. It seemed to help.

(So that’s our back story!)

As you can imagine, both of us were ready, but nervous to see how her leg would hold up. I was mostly worried that she would have the worst pains in Canada and be stuck on the other side of the border to deal with it. (Right?! Crazy.)

So we prayed. We asked for strength to get us through this race and – once again – I wasn’t worried about time. I just wanted us to finish!

We set off around 7:05 a.m. and didn’t look back!

We both had music playing in our earbuds, but only wore one so we could talk to each other the whole time.

Detroit Free Press Half 2014 start


Since we were required to carry our passports with us, we each bought a FlipBelt (more on that tomorrow!) at the EXPO and filled it with the necessities: passport, tissues, lip balm, iPhone, and Gu Chomps.

The course was great! The half marathon track took us over the Ambassador Bridge for three miles in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, then back under through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, through a Detroit neighborhood, then back over to the Start/Finish line.

Detroit Free Press Half and Marathon Course Map 2014


I had checkpoints in my head and made them verbal when we passed them. We made it to the Ambassador Bridge after three miles!

I was originally worried about the incline, but it really wasn’t bad. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, anyways.

I didn’t stop to take any (clear) photos because I thought I might be trampled if I did. It was quite crowded!

Detroit Press Marathon Ambassador Bridge

As soon as we started the bridge, Alex had her first signs of pain. I could tell that she was already hurting pretty bad, and I was doing my best to make her smile and push through it.

I thought it might get better on the decline, but that angle of pressure on her legs made it worse.

I could see her tearing up and thought she was going to tell me she couldn’t do it. I honestly thought we were going to have to stop once we made it to the bottom and into Canada.

As we approached the border, there was a huge crowd, Border Patrol, and a team of police cheering us on! I joked that this is the only time Border Patrol would ever be smiling as we went through. They are usually strictly business, and rightfully so. It was a great pump up moment!

Once we hit level ground, her knee started feeling a little better. We hit the 4 and 5 mile marks and I just kept telling her how the hardest part and levels of the bridge was over. (I might have been lying.)

Proudly wearing our HWP jerseys, we were cheered on by strangers both in the crowd and in the race the entire time! It was awesome.

While training, Alex said that she couldn’t stop to stretch out or baby her knee pain. If she stopped, she couldn’t start again and it always made it worse. With that in mind, we didn’t stop once and I was in charge of getting us water at every other fluid station.

We hit the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel at the 7 mile mark and I was dreading it.

I’m not a fan of tunnels, so the thought of running through one in a race (under water and blocked off from any signs of light) really freaked me out.

As it turns out, it was really fun! It almost felt like we were running from something serious like a zombie apocalypse. When else in our lives will we be able to RUN through this tunnel? Never.

Detroit Free Press Half Marathon Hope Water Project race

It was also warmer down there, which also helped Alex’s knee. She said it felt a lot better during those miles.

We got back out in the daylight around mile 8 and rewarded ourselves with a Gu Chomp for fuel. There was a big “Welcome back to the U.S.A.” sign when we got there and I couldn’t help but run and jump to touch it.

Around the 9 mile mark, I heard a “I read your blog, you’re awesome!” from a fellow runner coming up behind me. (Hi, Jessica!) She seemed super sweet, said her hello and kept running. That was pretty cool.

We powered through the final miles of the race without too much trouble.

Our pace kept getting slower and slower, but the pump ups from the crowd and HWP supporters really helped out.

Detroit Free Press Half 2014 FinisherPix photos


We saw our friends Kelly and Brian at the 11 mile mark and we tried to keep up with them. I could tell the pain was only getting worse for Alex, so we kept a steady jog going and I told her not to worry about anything or anyone else.

The trainer in me wanted to tell her to stop, but the friend in me pushed her to keep going. I knew she would be really upset at herself if she didn’t cross the finish line.

Right before we made our last turn to the finish, we saw a young (shirtless) male runner fly by. Mind you, it was in the 40s outside. His name was Michael and he ended up crossing the finish line right before us, only he ran the FULL marathon. That’s 26.2 miles, for those of you who are unaware…

No big deal.

Detroit Free Press Marathon finish line 2014

As we got closer to the finish line, we kept getting more and more cheers from the crowd. They were amazing!

I grabbed Alex’s hand on the final stretch and we crossed the finish line together at 2:22:47. I was so, so happy and proud of her.

Detroit Free Press Half 2014 finish


She was in quite a bit of pain and limping with a straight left leg, but we made our way over to claim our medals and meet up with our biggest fans, Scott and Alex (her boyfriend).

They congratulated us on running the race and I couldn’t help but to get a little choked up. Crossing the finish line is always a rush of emotions for me.

This time I was a mess thinking of how us running with purpose might actually make a difference in peoples’ lives, and I lost it.

Detroit Free Press Half Marathon Hope Water Project 2014

It was so worth it!

Now that the race is over, I keep telling Alex to take it easy, stretch, foam roll, and go see someone to check out her leg!

I, however, still have the itch to race again.

I am currently scoping out upcoming half marathons in our area and am about two seconds from signing up for one. All I am waiting on is a conformation from Scott that we will be in town!

This half was a lot easier for me to get through compared to my first one. Maybe it was because we ran at a slower pace, but I honestly felt like I could have kept running for a couple more miles.

Maybe the thought of a marathon isn’t too out of reach, ya’ll!

Detroit Free Press post race picture

We shall see. Either way, I am looking forward to signing up and racing in the Detroit Free Press again next year!

And hey, maybe Scott will be able to join me next time…

with scott post race detroit free press half marathon


I am looking forward to riding the racing bug as long as I can. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my plans for future races and also share a peek into my training when they come around.

Thank you for joining in on my race journey, and I will see you back in the morning early for Friday Favorites! <3

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