First Half Marathon? 13.1 helpful tips nobody may have ever told you

Unless there is an ice-cream truck, shark or a sample sale, I am not much of a runner. I enjoy a good run when I want to and will be doing my second half marathon in a few days. I am not a pro. I haven’t really trained much but managed to put in a long run today. I thought about how prepared I was last year when I actually trained for my first event.

Take time to enjoy the beautiful view. This is the Seco at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. This view made my long run more pleasant.
Take time to enjoy the beautiful view. I love this view at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Pretty views make everything more pleasant.

If this is your first ever half marathon or if you’re considering doing one, I am sure you have already done your research like any responsible half marathoner would. Unlike me, you have your training schedule and have a really good idea of what you need to do. I wanted to provide you with my list of pointers that I wish I would have known at my first race. I gathered this from friends who are pro marathoners and this is also from my first hand experience. Here are some tips that nobody may have ever told you.

Half Marathon Tips for Rookies

  1. Hydrate. Drink plenty of water weeks before the race.
  2. Trim your toe nails. The week of the run, get a pedicure or trim your toe nails.
  3. Play Dress Up. The week before race day, have a dress rehearsal during one of your long runs. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, ask yourself how do you feel? Check your visor, head band, arm band, underwear, top, shorts, leggings, socks, contacts, and shoes. Have a trial with whatever you intend to wear on your race day. Does your sports bra fit fine? Does that armband rub against you? Are your socks quitters?Are your sunglasses going to bother you? Make adjustments if need be.
  4. Prevent Chub Rub.  Apply Vaseline or petroleum jelly in areas where you may experience chafing (your armpits where they may rub against your shirt/ tank, upper thighs, etc.)
  5. Layer Up. Since you will be up extra early and it will likely be cold, you may need to dress in layers. Wear a layering piece (one that you don’t mind donating). Take it off and throw it on the ground when you no longer need it. Most well organized races will have volunteers who will do a sweep and then donate your garment.
  6. Nothing New. Race Day is not the time to be experimenting with anything new. Avoid trying anything new the day of and make sure that any chews, energizers, etc…have been sampled and approved by you. There will be plenty of sponsors giving away samples, only take these if you must or if you’re familiar with the product and know you can handle it. You don’t know how many horror stories I have heard from people who did not respond well and had a bad time because of trying a new product on race day.
  7. Don’t zig zag. Why expend more energy and add more distance than you need to? Yes, there is going to be a lot of people…but zig zagging your way in between them is only going to add more distance to your race. I ended up adding unnecessary distance to my run. Don’t do what I did.
  8. Apply the Run/Walk strategy. Apply the run/ jog for 3-5 minutes, and then walk 1 minute strategy. This is supposed to give your legs a break.
  9. Stop at all water stations. Yes, even if you’re not thirsty, grab a water cone. This will force you to slow your roll, as you stop by the water station and at the very least take a sip. You will be glad you did. Oh and be sure to thank the volunteers who got up so early to make sure you’re hydrated.
  10. Do not hold it in. Speaking of water…don’t hold it in. Accept the fact that you will be using a porta potty. Build a bridge and get over it. It’s all good.
  11. Embrace the Moment. Stop and enjoy the view. You’ve put in so much work…so be sure to embrace it. Look at the signage, people cheering you on, everything! Take it all in. –I recall the simplest sign that said, “Run, Auntie, Run!” That was all I needed at that moment. If you’re a people person, make friends. You’re around like minded people who all share the common goal as you, to finish the race!!

    Enjoy the race and those around you. I met Bernie during today's run. A fellow Bruin who also studied Political Science and went to Law School. A retired judge at the young age of 87. We talked about Economics. His wisdom and encouraging words made my day. You just never know who you're going to meet out there.
    Enjoy the race and those around you. I met Bernie during today’s run. A fellow Bruin who also studied Political Science and went to Law School at UCLA. A retired judge at the young age of 87. We talked about Economics and many other things. His wisdom and encouraging words left me inspired. You just never know who you’re going to meet out there.
  12. Stretch. Stretch, stretch, stretch after the run, and then stretch.
  13. Have a salt bath. Soak yourself in an Epson salt bath after the run.

The last pointer, 13.1 is the most important one. Know that you got this. Having this conviction makes a world of difference. Have a great attitude and I am sure you’re going to have an excellent race…you got this!

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