What to Eat
When it comes to half marathon training for beginners, nutrition becomes even more important. You need to fuel well before your race and also eat well afterward to ease recovery.
Before your long runs, you should carbo load a day or two in advance. Eat good carbohydrates like whole grain pasta, quinoa or sweet potatoes. These foods can help your body store extra glycogen which you can draw on for quick fuel during the run.
Some good pre-long run choices are oatmeal, a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and a banana. Try a few different food choices during your training runs to find what works best for you. Aim to eat about 60 minutes before your run for enough digestion time.
After your long runs you want to refuel within 30 minutes. Eating some proper recovery food in this time will help your body absorb the nutrients fast and will decrease fatigue and runner's munchies. There are many recovery sports drinks on the market and many of these work well, but a simple solution has also proven to be one of the best: a glass of low-fat chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is a great mix of protein, carbs and fat and is absorbed into your system quickly. If milk or a recovery drink is not to your taste, then try peanut butter, bananas or some GU energy gels. Try out a few different foods to find what works for you.
Two last things about fueling well for 13.1 miles. First, drink water, lots of water. Drink water in the days leading up to, before, during and after your long runs. Do not underestimate the importance of water. Becoming dehydrated is not fun and can be quite dangerous. Second, do not try anything new on race day. Make sure you have "practiced" what you will eat on race day. It is important to know that what you eat will not disturb your stomach and will fuel you well through the race. You will have plenty of long runs over 6 miles to test your nutrition plan.
Enjoy Your Race
To help you focus on the race, pack your gear the night before. Don't leave the details until race morning as you may be nervous, excited or just plain distracted by race day. You don't want to worry about details on race morning. Also, if you have someone coming to cheer you on, make sure you have a cell phone. The crowds at many races can make it difficult to find your family or friends so being able to communicate during the race is key.
Whether you have a time goal or not, remember that you've worked hard to be ready for your race. Don't focus so much on the finish line that you don't take in any other aspects of the race. Relax a little and realize that running a half marathon is a big accomplishment. Bask a bit in your glory as you cross that starting line and ultimately the finish line. You've earned that privilege!half marathon race.