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13 Tips for Your First Half Marathon

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You’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to run your first half-marathon. Running 13.1 miles is certainly something you can do, but the effort requires careful training so you don’t get hurt on race day. It isn’t easy, but as long as you take it one step at a time, you’ll make it to the finish line. Here are 13 tips to help you prepare for the ups and downs you may experience throughout your training.

13. Stretch Every Day

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It is absolutely essential that you stretch before going out on runs. The act of running is a repetition of your feet hitting the ground, which causes your muscles to constrict on every stride. When the runner’s muscles are tight, this is a recipe for an injury. Pre-workout stretches help to keep these muscles feeling loose, and may also help to tone them over time. Areas to focus on for pre-workout stretches are the thighs, calf muscles, lower back muscles, neck and arms. Performing stretches every day will help you get into the habit.

12. Proper Running Shoes

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Running shoes are different than basketball shoes or other athletic purposed shoes. You want a thin sole that fits snugly on your foot. The biggest noticeable difference between running shoes and other shoes is how your feet will feel after a run. Running shoes will not rub against your feet causing blisters and other unnecessary pain. Avoid cotton socks, because they absorb moisture and cause friction on your feet which will create blisters. Try polyester or other synthetic materials. Be sure to wear your running socks when you are trying on your runners shoes to get the right fit.

11. Running Form

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Work on developing your runner form. Are you running efficiently? There are several things to consider when looking at this question. You can run more efficiently by keeping your head level as you stride forward. By doing this, you are making sure your energy is being used to propel you forward and not being wasted on moving you vertically with each stride. If you are striking your heel on the ground then you are also exerting more energy to propel yourself into the next stride. When running barefoot, you will learn not to strike your heels on the ground, because it will hurt. Incorporate some barefoot running into your training sessions, or at least be mindful not to land directly on your heels.

10. Cross-training

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Just because you are training for a half-marathon doesn’t mean you should only focus your energy on running. Doing so can cause you to feel burned out, and you may have a hard time sticking with a training schedule. Incorporate other training, such as weight training, bicycling, swimming or yoga to give you a well-rounded fitness plan. All of the various training methods can contribute to your overall endurance.

9. Get Plenty of Rest

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You may be excited to train for your first half-marathon, but don’t overdo it! It is important to give your muscles an adequate break by taking a day off. You can also take a break from running one day to cross-train. Take a day off completely, and make sure to stretch to keep your muscles loose and give them an opportunity to recover. Make sure you get enough sleep. Energy is important when you are training, and falling short on sleep isn’t going to help with your motivation.

Marissa is a talented writer and journalist with a strong background in covering physical and mental health issues. Find Marissa on LinkedIn!

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