Guest Post from Evann: Tips for Running Your First Half Marathon

Hope you are all having a great week! Today’s post comes from my friend Evann who’s running the Nike Women’s Half with me this weekend in DC. I thought it would be great to have her share a bit about what’s she’s learned while training for her first half marathon! Thanks for contributing Evann! 


In about a week, I’ll be running my first half marathon. But until I registered for the race in November, I often told people that I wasn’t a runner. I’m a former dancer who now blogs about fitness trends and boutique fitness classes, but I had never tried to run more than 4 consecutive miles. After watching many of my friends complete half and full marathons, I secretly wanted to crush a half myself. I’m very goal oriented and was attracted to the well-defined 13.1 milestone. It took watching runners complete the New York City Marathon in purple Team in Training singlets for me to commit to the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC. Team in Training supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by raising money for blood cancer research, which is a cause that’s affected my family. I thought that if there was any way I’d make it through a 13.1 mile race, it would be to celebrate the cancer survivors in my family.

Kayla is also running the Nike Half for Team in Training, but she’s run a half before. She asked me to share some newbie training tips with all of you. I know that people often look back on new experiences and say there are things they wish they’d known before starting. Fortunately, giving myself enough training time and surrounding myself with running experts helped me avoid a lot of mistakes. Here are few of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last four months.

Focus on distance, not pace – I think one reason people find running so intimidating is because they think they have to be fast. When I started training, I felt like I needed to push my speed, which caused me to burn out quickly. I’m not very fast, but I’m still a runner. It’s important to remember that races are ultimately about distance, not time. Whether you finish a half marathon in 1:30 or 3:00, it’s still a huge accomplishment. Don’t be frustrated if people are passing you. Run your own race.
Choose the 16-week plan – As a first-timer, it’s important to give yourself ample time to train for your race. Four months is plenty of time to build a base, increase your endurance, and reach longer mileage. If you try to do too much too fast, you risk the chance of injury. However, if you do get injured, you’ll potentially have time to recover and continue training. My training was disrupted by extreme winter weather in New York, but I’ve still had plenty of warm running days now that the snow has melted.
Don’t forget to cross train – If you’re already active outside of running, this will benefit you. Most half marathon training plans include four runs and two cross training workouts per week. Being that I was very active in boutique fitness before training for my half, I sometimes subbed one of those four runs for a spin class, which is a low impact alternative to running. However, it’s crucial that your two cross training workouts include strength training. It will only help you improve form and endurance as a runner.
Surround yourself with support – As I mentioned, I surrounded myself with running experts during my training. Some of these experts were my Team in Training coaches, which were provided to thank me for my fundraising efforts. They frequently sent encouraging emails to the team and held group runs. I also have friends who are experienced runners. They answered all of my ridiculous questions and often texted me to ask about my most recent run. Having knowledgeable resources was great, but having an export team of support was even better.
Two final points that I would consider for your first half marathon is either to plan a destination race or to run for charity. I’ve done both! Traveling to get to a race or fundraising to benefit a cause makes even the hardest training runs seem worth it. When your training, you’ll have weeks when you feel like progress has slowed or stopped, but don’t worry. When you look back on where you were at the start of training, you’ll see how much you’ve grown. You’ll be ready to tackle 13.1.


Any half marathon vets out there– What do you wish you would have known before your first half?

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  • I would have to echo the importance of cross training and finding a good support system. I often make the argument that cross training makes me a stronger, faster runner more so than running sometimes. We need muscles, and running sometimes makes us lose muscle.

    Another tip i’d give a new (half) marathoner is to never let a bad run ruin your training. There will be some good, and some bad. The day before, only imagine success. Imagine running the course and tell yourself you’re going to feel great, you’re going to finish, and that you’re going to crush it. Envisioning success helps us get there. Believe it first!

    Just happened to stumble upon this blog. Looking forward to connecting and following!

    • thanks for the comment 🙂
      Yesss, cross training is so important!! During this brutal winter in new york it’s definitely what kept me in race-shape!

      Love the tip to not led a bad run ruin your training, I totally agree.