6 Training Tips to Ace Your First Half Marathon or Marathon

Long Run

Of course with longer race distances, long runs become a training staple, but they aren't the only staple. A mistake many new runners can make when jumping into the half or full marathon is putting too much emphasis on the long run. By doing so, they miss out on building their speed, tend to increase their risk of injury, and just wrack up a bunch of miles run at a slow pace.

Training should be thought of like a stool built on: speed work, recovery runs, longer intervals and the long run. A stool can't stand on only one leg.

As you become more conditioned during your long runs, you want to begin including miles run at marathon (or half marathon) pace within your long run. Play with the paces of your long runs, as they can double dip as a workout for the week as well.

More: 7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Long Runs

Fluids and Fuel

You need a fuel and fluid plan to replenish your glycogen and fluid stores during training and racing. Long runs are prime times to begin mapping out and practicing a fuel plan that works for you, as every runner is different. You want to know exactly which foods and drinks you'll be ingesting and when.

More: How to Fuel During a Half Marathon

Come race day, you should have your fuel plan ingrained in your mind to avoid a potential gastrointestinal (GI) nightmare or bonk, also known as "hitting the wall." Depending on the conditions of the race, you'll need to plan accordingly; remember, becoming dehydrated during a race can cause many of the GI issues runners are wrought with.

More: The New Rules of Marathon Nutrition: Fuel Plan

The marathon is a beast of a challenge—that is part of the enticement of it after all. In preparing to make your half or full marathon a success, there are many factors to consider because so very much can transpire across 26.2 miles. By diligently planning and training intelligently, you work to limit the number of unexpected things that can arise, or you at least know how to handle them if they do occur.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun. This is true in both training and racing. One of the greatest things to arise from all this marathon mania is that the number of runners across the nation and the world has spiked dramatically. Be proud to be a member of a constantly growing community of runners; we're friendly folks, we understand the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into making it to the starting line, and come race day, even among your competition, there comes that connection of camaraderie and mutual respect. They do say misery loves company, right?  

More: 22 Essential Pieces of Marathon Training Advice

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