Tips for Running Your First Half Marathon

Half Marathon Training Advice

The half marathon distance (13.1 miles) is extremely popular among runners. According to Running USA's 2015 National Runner Survey, the half marathon distance is the favorite race distance by core runners nationwide (preferred 39% by men and 43% by women).

If you're training for your first half marathon, check out these half marathon training tips to get ready for a great race.

Wear the right running shoes.

Close-up of athlete legs running a marathon.
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Wearing the right running shoes is important to your overall comfort, performance, and injury prevention efforts. Find a running specialty store to get fitted for the right running shoes for your foot type and running style. Also, make sure you don't run in worn-out running shoes – they should be replaced every 300-400 miles.

Follow a half marathon training schedule.

Runner outside in fall weather
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Following a training schedule will not only keep you motivated, but it will also help prevent you from getting injured by doing too much too soon. Try one of these schedules:

Run/Walk Half Marathon Training Schedule
Beginner Half Marathon Training Schedule
Advanced Beginner Half Marathon Schedule

Work on proper running form.

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Proper running form is crucial for long distance running because you don’t want to waste energy or risk injury with inefficient or incorrect running form. Focus on staying upright, not slouching, with your head up and level. Keep your shoulders down, with your arms relaxed and at a 90 degree angle. Try to take short, quick steps, and keep your feet low to the ground, to allow you to conserve energy and minimize impact on your legs and joints.

Tips for Proper Running Form

Maintain your motivation.

Three women running
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One of the biggest keys to success for new runners (as well as experienced ones) is staying motivated to maintain a consistent training schedule. There will be days when you don't feel like running and you'll have an excuse for getting out of your workout.

Resist the temptation to skip it, remember your goal of running your half marathon, and get yourself out there running. You'll feel better once you're out there. You may have a bad run every once in a while, but a good one can't be too far off. Plan ways to maintain your motivation, such as treating yourself to new running gear or running in shorter races as part of your training.
Also see:


Hip Flexor Stretch for Runners
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Logging miles is obviously an important part of training for a half marathon, but doing too much can lead to injury and overall burnout. You can also build fitness and reduce injuries with cross training, which is any activity that supplements your running. Strength-training, especially your core and lower body, will help you become more injury-resistant and improve your strength for the long runs. Other excellent cross-training activities for runners include swimming, cycling, elliptical trainer, water running, yoga, and Pilates.

Be prepared for your long runs.

Women running with water
Photo by Zia Soleil

Your weekly long runs will help prepare you physically and mentally for your half marathon. Before your long runs, you'll want to make sure you eat and hydrate properly. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water -- you'll know you're well-hydrated if your urine is a pale yellow. Aim for about 65% of calories from carbs during the two days leading up to your long run.

Also see: Mental Tips for Long Runs
Tips to Make Your Long Runs Easier

Run with others.

women running
Brand X Pictures

Training and racing is more fun if you do it with a running group or a friend or family member. Running with others will keep you on track and motivated to stick to your training. Many charity running groups offer training for specific half marathons, so you can train with others and also help a good cause.
More: Tips for Running With Your Significant Other
How to Find a Running Group

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