Half Marathon Training Guide
If you want to skip the story, scroll to about halfway through for the free guide and my tips!
Back in March my husband came home from a six month deployment in tiptop shape. If you're a military spouse you KNOW that when your spouse gets back from their deployment they're gonna be lookin' goooood! Mainly because there's nothing else for them to do during any spare time they may have than workout, but you won't hear us complaining back home about it! Lee had been crushing his workouts. Meanwhile, I had been working out, but when you live alone and have no dishwasher, you aren't motivated to make nutritious food choices and that affects your training!
One random weekend after returning home, Lee decided he was going to run a half marathon. I was like shit. I've run five halfs, but had avoided running in the Okinawa heat for almost four years. There's a slight competitive rift between the two of us, so naturally, I started up my training program again. I finished my training in June and ran a half marathon together!
Running became my outlet during the coronavirus shitshow of 2020. When everything else was crazy, I still had my miles to do and a reason to get out of the house every day. It was my constant that I so desperately needed with the ever-changing restrictions here in Okinawa. I think training this past year has completely changed my relationship with running in the best way possible. I ended up running a full marathon and an ultra this past year as well! Now, here I am, sharing my tips and a training plan with you!
Training for a half marathon is PERFECT. It's a great way to explore the sport of running without it taking over every aspect of your life. I truly believe that anyone can run a half marathon. Heck, I believe anyone can run a full marathon!! However, this plan does start at 3 miles, so I recommend starting my 5K Guide if you aren't there yet. I've always followed a similar plan and while it isn't the exact plan I created for this blog, it's super similar!
It's important to slowly increase your weekly miles to avoid overtraining and injury. It's also important to stick to the plan! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I believe it's dedication, not motivation that keeps you going fitness-wise. While normally I'm very much about giving yourself grace on missing workouts, you absolutely need to make the commitment to training and stick with it when you're preparing for a race. The distances can seem daunting, but I'm telling you, if you stick with the plan and make it a priority to get your runs in, your body will take over. Promise. The training works! However, it only works if you actually do it.
When it comes to the runs, you should never feel completely breathless, gasping for air. If you are, please walk. You should be able to hold a conversation during training runs. You should find your heart rate is elevated and it's more difficult to talk. However, if you absolutely can't get a word out, it's a sign you may be running too hard. There is nothing wrong with taking a break, slowing down, or walking.
Stretching is so important, especially on your long runs and rest days. Even if you just sit on the floor in front of the TV, DO ITTTT! Foam rolling is also helpful with recovery. Below are some stretches I like to do after runs. Okay, maybe it's a lot of stretches I'm sharing, but they all feel so good after a run, I can't help it!
Fuel & Water
When it comes to distance running, you need to make sure you have fuel and water available. Did you know that you burn over 1,000 calories when you run a half marathon? This fluctuates person-to-person, but how crazy! This is especially important if you are doing a virtual or self-supported race, as you don't have aid stations to rely on.
Some runners like goos, some like beans, some like shotbloks...there's so much out there! If you're confused, go check out the supplement section at the store. You'll see tons of stuff made for running. Personally, I prefer packets of almond butter and bars like cliff bars. For me, real fuel works best. This is highly personal, though, because it depends on your body. That's what's beautiful about training! During your long runs, you can play around with different fuel sources.
For water, I'm not into fancy sports drinks, but coconut water is a great post-run drink. Mainly, I just stick to H2O. I have a camelbak that I wear for any run over 6 miles (or 1 hour). However, I don't actually recommend it as it is made for running. My husband has a Orange Mud vest and he loves it! Again, this is personal and will depend on what you like.
When it comes to water intake, be careful in this Oki heat. I weigh myself before and after runs to make sure I haven't lost too much water. For every pound lost, you should drink 16 oz of water.
Don't feel like you have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on fancy gear. Start small! It's better to train for one race and make do with cheaper gear to figure out if running is something you want to continue down the line than sell your first-born for the latest and greatest gear. If you want to check out some amazon finds I love for running, read this blog!
While we're on the topic, let's talk about shoes. If you're going to invest in running, invest in a good pair of shoes. You should not be running in the shoes you lift in or your old tennis shoes you've had for years. Most running stores will watch you run in the store and then recommend the right shoe for you. I 100% recommend doing this!
If you're in Oki and don't have this luxury, it just takes a little more research on your end. The Kadena BX has a lot of running shoe options, surprisingly! Currently, I'm running in the Clifton 6's from the Kadena BX! I think now, though, they only have the 7s. Read this article for more info on choosing a shoe.
My inner personal trainer is screaming at you right now to AVOID OVERTRAINING! Your body needs adequate rest and stretching in order to make up for the demands you're placing on it during your runs. If this is your first half marathon, I encourage you to focus solely on the running. Yoga, pilates, core and light upper body workouts are great to pair with your training runs. If you are going to work your legs, make sure you focus on stability and balance using light weights or body weight. Training for your first half isn't the time to throw down at the squat rank (sorry!).
My biggest piece of advice to you, though, is HAVE FUN!! Running a half marathon is a huge accomplishment, but the real beauty is in the training. Listen to some books you've always wanted to read, find a friend to run with, and enjoy exploring your home. If you're in Oki, I recommend joining Okinawa Pavement Pounders. It's an awesome running Facebook community here.
Good luck!! You've got this.
You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Kellie McKinnon owner of KM Fitness at kelmckfit.com from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of kelmckfit.com.