Half Marathon tips for Beginners

Half mary tips

I am not a trainer or a coach, I’m just sharing what worked for me. Compared to a lot of runners I’m still a beginner too! Most of these tips will apply for any length race you choose.

When I started running I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to run a 5k, let alone have five half marathons under my belt in less than 2 years. Racing was not even on my radar yet. I’m not even sure why I started running….it may have been a suggestion from my husband. Either way, once I completed that first 5k I was hooked and in love!

When I decided to run my first half, I was so “out of the loop” that I asked several people if I should even expect to be able to run a half. Do people even run the whole thing or would I be walking? Their answer ~ train to run it! And I did!

I ran my first half May 2012. I used a training plan from Marathon Rookie, you can find it here. It’s a 10 week program that can easily be lengthened to work for you. I recommend adding in a week to get 7 and 9 miles on the climb up to 12. That downhill (tapering) from 12 serves a purpose, take it seriously. It allows your body time to rest leading up to race day. I have used that plan each time, but I don’t start over at 4 miles since I’m already at a weekend average of 8-10 miles.


These tips are in no particular order:

  1. Hydration: it’s important year round, no matter how cold it is outside. The first time I trained I planted water at the half way point on my runs. The times after that we just made loops by our cars to refuel. I also wear an iFitness hydration belt on all runs over 7 miles if I’m not stopping by my car. I race in that belt too and refill my bottles at water stops. 
  2. Fuel: during training and just in general, fuel is important. I tried several different gels and energy chews. My favorites are Gatorade chews and Honey Stingers Organic energy chews. You should test different ones out on training runs, not race days. Make sure you are eating as well as you can, even on non-running days. Get lots of protein, veggies and fruit!
  3. Gear: Running shoes are the most important, get fitted for good ones! Beyond that, just be comfortable, wear sweat wicking clothes. There are lots of extra things you can get, but all you need is a good pair of shoes!
  4. Find a training partner if at all possible! Someone to hold you accountable and run with. It makes those long runs so much easier.
  5. Stick to your plan. The shorter mid-week runs help your body get ready for the long runs. If you skip those, you risk injury and burnout. Missing 1 midweek run probably isn’t that bad, but don’t expect to miss a week of runs and then be able to run easily on the weekend.
  6. Cross train: Cross training helps keep you strong and (hopefully) injury free. Try walking, biking, swimming, weight lifting, core exercises, using the elliptical. Just about anything other than running! Do these on your non running days. Stretching should also be included in cross training.
  7. Rest days: so very important! You have to have time to rest and recover, listen to your body but 1-2 days a week is a good guideline.
  8. Sign up for a race! There are so many choices, small ones usually have easy parking and cost less. The less stress for race day, the better!

Just go run


Any first time half marathoners out there? What’s your next race?

Have a great day!

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Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

About howmyworldruns

I am a child of God, wife, mom, lifter, runner, sort of blogger and travel agent by day.
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13 Responses to Half Marathon tips for Beginners

  1. Jenn L says:

    I love these tips. I’ve thought about starting to run, but didn’t really know where to start. Thanks!

  2. Alisha says:

    I need to be better about cross training! Such a good list of tips!

  3. These are great tips. I’m a fairly new runnig training for my first half in October. I will keep these tips in mind.

  4. amrtt says:

    Great tips! I need to be better about eating during halfs!
    Emma @ a mom runs this town

  5. Emily says:

    Great tips! I am running my first half in October as well.

  6. Mo says:

    thanks ! Just registered for Paris half marathon in March 2014 🙂

  7. Betsy says:

    I did my first, but had some problems, so I am ready for my second! Thanks for the training tips =)

  8. great tips!!! I have run 2 halfs now and once baby gets here I will start training again for more and maybe even a full!

  9. Thanks for the great tips! I ran my first half 4 years ago and was not properly prepared – I didn’t know anything about hydration and fueling. I ended up getting injured and stopped running. Now I’m training for another half and definitely plan on improving on those things. At about how long of a run do you start using gels/chews?

    • howmyworldruns says:

      Gels and Chews kinda depend on the weather too. Sometimes I can make it 10 miles in the cool weather with nothing, if it’s a training run. But I would normally recommend 8 miles or longer if it’s warm, humid or a race. My half on Monday I used them at mile 4 and 10. It was extremely humid and I was getting dehydrated quick.

      There are lots of options out there. My current fave is the Advocare Rehydrate Gel. I can tolerate that consistency better than GU. Try a few different ones on a run and off, you need to see how it affects your tummy while running.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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