half marathon training.

When registration opens for the Brooklyn Half Marathon each January, I hold my breath for a few minutes as I rush to buy my spot in the race before it fills up. Something stressful always happens — last year, the site timed out as I was logging in, and this year, I (of course) forgot the password for my New York Road Runners account. Thankfully, I managed to get everything reset again, and I’m all set to run my favorite race for the *fourth* time this May. WOO! (P.S. did anyone else notice that the registration fee went up this year? Ugh.)

I’ve gotten a few comments from readers asking me to share a bit more about how I train for half marathons, and today seems like the perfect day to do it! I’m in no way an expert, and there are lots of different ways to get ready for this kind of race, but this is what has worked for me.

I ran my first half marathon in 2014, mostly because I wanted to prove that I could. I’d never been involved in team sports in school — honestly, I was the totally un-athletic kid in class who huffed and puffed her way through every timed mile fitness test. When I got my driver’s license, I joined a gym and started to learn more about working out, and since then, exercise has been an increasingly important and regular part of my life. Still, I had a mental block with running. A few years ago, when my roommate told me about her great experience running her first half marathon in Brooklyn, I decided to see if I could do it, too — it was one of my resolutions for 2014.

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Getting ready to start my first half in 2014!

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At the finish line in 2014 with my roommate and running inspiration!

When I tell people they can build up to a half marathon even if they don’t run at all, I know from experience that it’s possible. I basically started from zero. I’m a big believer in following a clear training program, especially if you’re a new runner. To train for my first half marathon, I used this plan. In 2015 and 2016, I tried different training plans (there are tons to choose from online if you want to find one that works for you and your body!), but I’m actually going back to the original one this year, because I think it was the best. It’s a 16-week plan, so it really allows you to get into great running shape over an extended period of time, and if you have a few months to devote, I would definitely recommend it.

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In 2015, I also ran a half in my hometown. It was so fun to have my parents there to cheer me on!

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Back at it in Brooklyn in 2015!

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People have different opinions on this, but I do almost all of my training for half marathons on the treadmill. This is partially out of necessity, since I do a big chunk of my running during the winter months, but it’s actually turned out to be beneficial in other ways. Running still does not come totally naturally to me, so training on a treadmill helps me learn how to pace myself. Most importantly, since running up to eleven miles in a gym can be really boring, I find that there are so many interesting things to look at on race day that time seems to fly. It’s been really helpful for me mentally in every half marathon I’ve run.

Nutrition is a whole different story, and something I continue to figure out each year. While I’m in training, I try to cut back on some treats and snacks (we all know about my sweet tooth), and I keep my drinking to a minimum, especially on nights before a long run. At the same time, I tend to have a much bigger appetite than usual while I’m training, so I’m constantly trying to adjust my meals to make sure that I’m getting enough calories and protein.

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Matt ran his first half with me last year in Brooklyn, just a few weeks before our wedding! I was so proud of him, but I think I’ll be back on my own this year : ) 

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I start my “official” training plan for this year next week, and I’m so excited! Getting in top running form is tough, but it gets me in the best shape, and I always feel really great about myself throughout the process.

Would you like me to share more about my training or to offer more tips? Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

***Don’t forget to enter the January giveaway so you can win this bracelet from The Shine Project!  All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Monday! ***

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