5 Things To Know Before Running Your First Half Marathon

13.1 miles. It may sound like a scary thing to someone who doesn’t run, but for someone who has been training for months for a half marathon, it sounds like an exciting challenge. Growing up, I was not a runner. Just the idea of running a mile had me out of breath, but a half marathon was always on my bucket list, so I was determined to make it happen.

It wasn’t until I actually ran the half marathon that I realized, it wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be. While I knew it was going to be difficult, I didn’t realize the emotional, mental, and physical journey I was going to be on in those 13.1 miles. Here are the five main things I learned from my first half marathon:

1. No matter how hard you train, race day is a totally different experience.
Every weekend I was out there running, trying to prepare myself for whatever might be thrown at me in those 13.1 miles, but nothing could prepare me for the race day nerves. Or the thrill of the spectators cheering us on. Or the massive amount of people running around you. Or the weather. Or even how your body is going to feel that day. No matter how much effort you put into this beforehand, race day you are going to have a new level of elements being thrown at you and you just have to be able to roll with the punches.

2. It is okay to go at your own speed!
I am used to 5Ks/10Ks where I sprint in order to make a fast time. With a half marathon, you have to pace yourself. Like the turtle said, slow and steady wins the race. You do not have to be the fastest person out there in order to feel successful. If you have to slow down, slow down. If you have to walk, walk. It doesn’t matter what those are doing around you, you have to go at the speed that is right for you.

3. It doesn’t matter what you look like to be a runner.
I was so motivated by everyone that was running. It didn’t matter where you looked, the streets were filled with every age group and every body size that you could imagine. It was empowering to see so many people coming together with the same purpose in mind – to prove to themselves that they could do this.

4. It is okay to cry!
I cried a lot. It may have looked like I was sweating (which is a good thing!), but those were all tears of joy. I was just beyond happy to be able to finally be doing this, to be able to prove something to myself, to be able to run for charity, as well as making my family proud. Women will understand, sometimes you just have to let out those tears of joy! It is okay to be on an emotional rollercoaster for those 13.1 miles. Let it out, my friend!

5. That was one of the biggest challenges I have had to face, yet one of the best experiences I have ever had.
There is no greater feeling than the sense of accomplishment after all of your hard work has paid off. While it was a physical struggle to keep up, mentally, and emotionally, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. It is hard to top “runners high,” as well as knowing that you proved to yourself and others what you were capable of.

I know that the idea of running 13.1 miles can be terrifying, but it also it can be beyond rewarding. If you are debating about doing a half marathon, I highly recommend it. At least once in your life, you should try it, just to experience all of the highs that can come from it. While it will be highly demanding on your body, it will also be so rewarding to you in so many ways. I guarantee that you will not be sorry once you have tried it for yourself.

Featured image via Greg Rosenke on Unsplash


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