Lessons learned from my first Half Marathon

For those that follow me on Instagram or read my blog (shame on you if you don’t) you will know that I completed my first Half Marathon at Liverpool Rock and Roll in May. As a self confessed #nonrunner, the sheer distance was overwhelming as I had only ever ran 10km previously. I had done a Spartan Beast race (23km) but as there were obstacles, waiting  at queues and very “traily”, I don’t class it in the same category of “road-running”.

I knew I had the fitness to do a half (at whatever pace) but I was aiming for a 1.50 time so needed to train, research and test. Here is some advice for those taking on their first half marathon.

  • Take on a training plan – I followed a plan via Strava which got me out 3/4 times a week – a mix of types and distances spread out over the week. This was a 12 week plan. I am not disciplined enough just to “go run” so a plan with regular prompting emails was ideal
  • Nothing new on race day AKA Test your gear –  Having done numerous OCR, 5km and 10km races, I am pretty used to what to wear for race day. Reebok shorts, Norfolk running socks, Asics Calf Sleeves, Vest, Running belt (phone and gels) and Reebok trainers with my Enertor insoles.
  • Fuel up properly (before, during and after the race) – They talk about “carbing” up the night before the race – but this is a bit of a myth and “carbing up” should actually start a few days out – this also applies to hydrating. I started drinking more using hydration tablets from the Thursday. During the race, I took my own SIS gels (the caffeine ones especially for the HM)  with the plan to use three around the course – 5, 10 and 15. Again, as with the mantra “nothing new” I have been using SIS gels through many other races. After the race, I had a recovery shake and banana immediately whilst I then chowed down on a KFC boneless banquet (minus the chips).
  • Hydrate – It was a really hot day so it was important to ensure I was well watered and took water at every stop -whether I was thirsty at that time or not. I never took the lucozade on offer sticking with “nothing new”.
  • Read the instructions – I tried to save £3 by not having the bib number being sent to me. I didnt realise I wasn’t able to pick up my number on race day and had to go on the Saturday instead (100 mile round trip). However I did take part in the 5km and had a good look around the expo too.
  • Pace yourself – I had an idea in my head of 5 minute/km pace. I thought this would be comfortably uncomfortable and would be able to hang on at the end and get a sub 1.50. There is different advice about going steady and speeding up towards the end, or going at equal speed through-out (this is pretty much what I did). The most important thing is not to go out too fast in the first few kms. Where the crowds and adrenaline is kicking in. Stick to your plan and don’t get carried away.
  • Enjoy it! – Taking on a half marathon is no easy task and it’s important that you enjoy not only the race, but the training before it. I picked Liverpool RnR for two specific reasons – the live bands promised every mile across the route (this was such a help!) and the course was very scenic. I can’t say I loved every minute of the race, but I certainly didn’t hate it!

If you have any questions about your half marathon, please feel free to ask me (im no expert though) take a look at the link below – or do a bit of research as there are so many great articles on half marathons that you can shake your stick at.

Thanks to all the “last minute” advice from my insta-friends. The original post can be found here – https://www.instagram.com/p/BUfQlPCDfvH/

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Wil Chung