6 Things A Runner Learns From Your First Half Marathon
Running teaches us so much. Runners learn to stay committed to a goal and how to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But a runner learns even more after running your first half marathon.
The biggest tip about running your first half marathon is that is is hard. But it is more than doable and is a life-changing experience.
A runner’s first half marathon is an emotional experience from the day you decide to officially sign up. It includes a whole lot of sweat, takes mental grit and sacrifice.
A runner learns just what you are capable of. You learn that you can go the distance, and this lesson translates to every aspect of life.
You learn from your first half marathon how rewarded the journey is.
After weeks of preparation, greatness is achieved over the course of the next 13.1 miles. With each step, you learn that anything you set your mind is possible.
These are the 6 things a runner learns from your first half marathon
1. It’s More Than Just A Race
This is the foundation statement of all race distances. A first time half marathoner learn that while race day is everything and then some, training is where you learn the most.
Training teaches the body how to gradually handle the mileage. The body, therefore, learns to get stronger, fitter and faster throughout the process.
Half marathon training also teaches you that your mind is even stronger than the body.
Training is hard. There are days runners just don’t want to lace up. But you have to reach the end goal. And there are times where this goal seems far away.
Those long run days seem impossible to get to 10, 11 even 12 miles. But each week the runner just gets it done. Suddenly one more mile at mile eight seems possible.
A great first half marathon tip is to trust in the training. If you follow a training plan and get the runs in, you will be ready.
It’s in those training miles where the runner learns about themselves as a person and as an athlete. You learn so much and grow through this experience that starts on day one of training, not just when you are at the race.
2. Biggest First Half Marathon Tip: Finish Just To Finish
Given you stick to your training plan, then you are ready for race day.
Another great tip to completing the distance is just run it to finish. Do not set specific time goals or fuss about pace.
If you need to walk, walk. It isn’t cheating or won’t make you less of a half marathoner. Just finish the race and once you physically and mentally know you can do it, then you can always make the next half marathon one for a specific time goal.
Having a time goal for a first-timer is just too much pressure—especially during training. Not only do you have to worry about getting through the long miles, but also about sticking to pace.
Build endurance and just finish the race. The good news is it’s already a PR!
3. First Timers Learn About Race Nutrition
Another thing you learn about a half marathon is the wonderful world of sports nutrition products.
Many runners do not have any experience with energy gels and chews, salt tablets and electrolytes added to water before training for a half marathon.
That’s because it’s only necessary for runs over 45 minutes.
Practice with different products during training. Get small samples or single-use products like a single packet of chews from a local running store and see what works best. Every runner is different.
The goal is to nail down nutrition and hydration during training runs before race day. On the day of the half marathon, the runner needs to come with their nutrition and know when they need to fuel up to prevent bonking, cramping, or a major loss of energy during the intense workout.
Crossing The Finish Line Is The Best Feeling
Get ready for all the feels.
Surprisingly, the runner might find that running their first half marathon is actually dare we say fun.
Sure, it’s hard work. It takes dedication and strength. But the atmosphere is just so uplifting. It’s close to impossible (unless an injury occurs) to want to give up.
The runner just very well starts getting emotional way before the finish line is in sight. Through these miles, you think about how far you have come to get to this point. And how lucky you feel to be able to be doing this and achieving personal greatness.
Then the finish line comes into view and it honestly is the best feeling in the world.
There is almost nothing like it. Crossing for the first time is so emotional. You did it! It’s a major victory and feeling of accomplishment that is hard to compare.
Expect o feel proud, happy, exhausted, hungry, sweaty, pure joy and also the loss of an amazing journey that just came to an end.
4. Runners Learn Half Marathons Are Addicting
Here is a tip: you will run another, so get ready to do it all over again.
That feeling is just so good that many runners decide to immediately sign up for another. This could be anywhere from a few weeks later to schedule in a few throughout the year.
It is a slippery slope when entering the world of half marathons. Runners just can’t get enough.
And for great reason. It is the perfect distance. A half marathon is for sure a challenge every time but doesn’t require the extra training and endurance of a full marathon.
The first half marathon is so special, but so is everyone after it in its own right.
5. Pacers Are Awesome
A first time half marathoner might want to follow in a pack with a pacer. While runners should just finish to finish for the first time, following a pacer is great for those you just want some extra motivation and to not feel like you are alone in the race.
Pacers get runners to the finish by their goal time, but they also just help runners to keep ongoing throughout the entire race. Chat one up for a few. Even if you just stick with the pack for a half of mile, the runner will learn how awesome it feels.
6. The Last Three Miles Is The Race
The race is in the last three miles.
This means to pace yourself at the start, focus on each mile at a time in the middle then bunker down and focus on that last 5k.
By mile 10 and 11 although the runner is getting tired, adrenaline takes over and there is no way you won’t finish now. You have come too far to quit.
Then comes all the emotions and excitement of getting near the finish line. Those last three miles fly by and are the time to give it what you got.
Others Things You Learn
There are just so many things runner learn about the half marathon. From the importance of sticking to a training plan to the importance of crossing training to avoid injury and increase strength, the list goes on and on.
Runners learn all about running gear like hydration vests and anti-chafing cream.
Increasing mileage also means increasing hunger post-workout. Expect to want to eat everything after a long run. Treat yourself to your favorite meal after finishing your first half marathon.
You will also find that you are more tired. Sleep is essential for training too, so get to bed early and take a nap after long run days.
Runners also learn the importance of getting to the race early. Parking at these events can be a pain, and bathroom lines long. Make enough time for all theses so that you have a few minutes to ease the nerves at the starting line.
The biggest tip for running your first half marathon is not to doubt yourself for one second. You can and will cross that finish line!