So I know you got to be tired of hearing from me all the time so I asked a few friends to help me out. These are people who are diverse in the way they train, speed, goals and experience. I was hoping to give a few first time half marathon hopefuls some advice from people who have been there before. There are no people I trust more and make me laugh more than my Bangkok Runners friends. I use letters to save space and their privacy. Enjoy!
So what kind of training schedule/method should i follow?
RC: in terms of training, i think people should also pay attention to remember to actually give some thought and plan to their clothing/eating/toilet/sleep/wake-up routine that fits the schedule of the actual run (before run/day of run/hours before run/during run/after run)
MPw: The one that match with your time/lifestyle so you can keep doing it. Just remember that don’t push yourself too hard.
SN: slowly increase training distance, the more slowlier the better. Until the week before, just rest
NP: 10% increase of distance per week will be your safe bet. This way you won’t be injured while building up your distance toward the race.
RH: The training schedule should be a one that you WILL follow. Dont choose a hard one just to be EXTRA prepared. Choose the one that suits your goal. If finish before cutoff time then you can choose an easy one.
MP: There are 100′s to choose from. Look how much time it takes you each week. How long is the training? How many days a week is the training? Does the training theory resonate with you? After your race you can evaluate what you liked and didn’t like.
What kind of shoes should I wear?
RC: and with regards to shoes… wear shoes you know don’t injure you (which usually means don’t try on new shoes on race day)….
MPw: Whatever you feel comfy
SN: run shoes that you are comfortable with for 2-3 hours. a good test is to go shopping in them for 4 hours. or disneyland
NP: The one that you feel comfortable running with for 2-3 hours. No one knows better than you about your shoes. Don’t try a new pair on the race day, that could be a fatal mistake!
RH: The ones that you like. Not new ones since you don’t know if they will be comfortable, not even if it is the same brand/model. If you have done your long runs in a special shoe then choose that one. A light shoe can be good but a shoe with some padding might be nice if you have had pain under your feet on your long runs. If you have pain in legs/hips or knees you should change running technique.
IW: Any brand that is comfortable for running. Don’t buy new shoes for the event, run in them at least 10 -20 times before the day.
MP: I like minimalist shoes because if you are running with bad form you will know it.
What should my goal be?
MPw: It depends on you and how you feel during the training
SN: to finish without injury
NP: A realistic one.
RH: To do better than last time. Since it is your first time then you should finish. Finishing with a slow time is a good thing since you can beat it next time.
IW: If its your first 1/2M be happy to finish. It will be a PB and you will find it easier to beat next time. Don’t be frightened to walk for 2-3 minutes at each water stop, that way you will finisher fresher and be in much better shape when you finish.
MP: For the first time you go out you should show your body what you expect of it. Have no expectations or pre-conceived ideas of what time you will do. You will only end up not enjoying yourself or disappointed if something comes up. Maybe you should set goals like enjoy every kilometer or not look at your running watch/ heart rate monitor just get used to the feel of running or something more fun like “I am going to speak to 3 people during this one.”
Am I going to die?
SN: Valar Morgoulis – All men must die
NP: “All men must die.” I quoted that from Sumet but I truly believe that you don’t have to kill yourself running a half marathon. I didn’t!
RH: We are all going to die some day. Unlikely that it will for this if you train good.
IW: Unless you get hit by a car, it is highly unlikely, Try to run at least 10-15km 2-3 times before the event. If you can’t do the 10km, then consider building up to 10km before trying 1/2M
MP: I’ve never experienced that! Usually it is the opposite. Why can’t I speed up? My heart rate and cardio are fine but my legs and body feel heavy.
How do I find a race?
MPw: There are a lot of races posting on Bangkok Runner page.
SN: Ask Joe
RH: In a running magazine or a website that lists races. If you don’t find it with google, find a running club nearby and ask them.
IW: Look on-line! Most countries will have lists of runs, many will have publications and if they have specialist running shops they will often have info on upcoming events too.
MP: Joe covered it pretty well in his article HERE
How is a half marathon different from a 10k or a marathon (besides distance)?
MPw: You must have stronger mental and physical and as we run longer, nutrition is more important.. eat and drink properly everyday esp on race day.
SN: There is less pressure to go fast, less pressure from those running beside you, and more chafing.
NP: I go into the half marathon without a different mindset than the 10k. For me, there is A WALL at 15k and to prepare myself for that when my body is protesting to go further is very important. You can go all out at 10k knowing that it will end soon. For half marathon, you have to strategize it differently, make sure you don’t go all out at the beginning. I normally eat a piece of bread at least an hour before the race so my body has a source to draw energy from. I don’t do that for 10k.
RH: You should not hit the wall in a half-marathon like you can in a marathon. If you don’t hydrate in a 10k you can make it but a half-marathon you have to do it probably.
IW: A half marathon is a great distance. It requires running 10-15km regularly ( a few times) to ensure you will get round. Though with preparation, even a half marathon is possible, even if you walk a bit. In popular runs there are always lots of people of all speeds around, so don’t worry about you time.
MP: Once you get over 20k there are things you can no longer get away with. You need water. Fueling. Half marathon means you need more time to recover. You have to allow for the fact you may not want to do anything else for the day. Body is less forgiving than in a 10k when it comes to form.
What didn’t you know about training for your 1st half marathon that you wish you knew?
MPw: I shouldn’t hit the ground with my heels.
SN: Prepare for hills if any, and fueling
NP: You don’t have to carbo-load the day before.
RH: I knew nothing about training before my first HM. I wish I had followed a training schedule and ran more than once a week. Started training earlier.
MP: Find a training plan with variety.
What does a 1st timer need to know about race day?
MPw: Don’t expect race organizer to prepare enough hydration for you.
SN: Scope the place out beforehand and set your alarm early
NP: Make sure you pee before the race, you don’t want to find a bush while running!
RH: Be on time. It is nice to get to the event early and not be stressed out. If it is early, then get to bed earlier. Know what kind of support you have on the water stations. Where is toilets. Bring a phone if you need to call a friend. Dont drive right after the race, have a friend pick you up or use public transport.
IW: Apply Vaseline and if a guy,plasters over nipples. Don’t over-dress. Bring spare clothes for after the event. Most events will have a bag drop.
MP: It’s ok to be nervous. Others will be around to help you find what you need like the start and other info as long as you arrive on time. Don’t eat too much. Don’t eat too much. If you kind of need to go to the toilet before the race: go.
Any last minute advice?
MPw: Don’t quit.
SN: Chill, it’s only a run
NP: Control your thought, every crazy idea that comes into your head is just a pre-race jitter.
RH: Have fun. Run with a friend. Make sure you smile for the cameras. Dont listen to music, you are there to enjoy this not zone out.
IW: Get there early. At least 20-30 minutes. Gives you a chance to stretch, relax and go to the bathroom.
MP: Don’t go out too fast. Very easy to get caught up with the fast people. Don’t judge your pace by anyone else. Not necessary to carry water bottles. The race provides plenty.
What is “the wall”?
MPw: Something you won’t meet in your half marathon (when you have proper training).
SN: only to be broken
NP: Feeling like you can’t go on for even 1 step further. You feel overwhelmed with fatigue. Your mind keeps yelling at you to stop running.
RH: Think is an old music album.
IW: It’s a point of physical exertion that you won’t experience in a 1/2M. Yes your muscles will be tired but at a cellular level your body won’t be depleted. Don’t worry about it.
MP: Only experienced it once during The North Face 50k. It was all psychological, not physical.
What do you do when you hit the wall?
MPw: No experience on this.
SN: wait a minute
NP: Slow my pace, get some water at the next station and tell myself that I can do it. Just 1k at a time.
IW: Slow down, you have no choice, take electrolytes and energy gels, banana etc before you get to that stage. Eg if really worried take something at 10km and then again at 15km.
MP: Tried running it out and ended up walking. Just accepted it. Your body is trying to protect you. Took a mouth full of jellybeans and in 5 minutes I was fine.
What did you wish you knew about race day that you didn’t know for your first race?
RC: know how to recover post-run
SN: I would have scoped the place out beforehand and planned my fueling and set my alarm earlier
RH: It would be that hard.
IW: Use Vaseline and plaster on nipples.
Funny 1st race moments?
MPw: My first half marathon race was in the same day with Bangkok Tri. As I mentioned, my race wasn’t prepare enough water. So I ran to the Bangkok Tri’s water station and asked them for water. They looked at me strangely and finally gave me the 1.25 Liters bottle cuz they didn’t have a glass(why?). Luckily, I had my friend carry it for me before we gave it away to other cuz they stared at our bottle… oh, it was actually the awkward moment.
SN: I was chased by the clean-up car but eventually i sped up to pass the 2nd-to last guy at the finish. He probably did not think it was very funny. haha
NP: I can’t remember if there was one. But I ran my first half marathon with Matt and that helped a lot. I’d recommend for the first timer to run with a buddy if you can find one.
RH: My first HM was in my home town many years ago. I was not enough trained but wanted to finish. I came in second to last and the last one was a 70-80 year old man that limped. I was happy to see my friends at the finish line.
MP: I ran with a woman in Liverpool and we saw a man taking a piss and I mentioned how hard it must be for women to go to the bathroom during a race. She very straight-faced explained to me “no-no not a problem at all. We just pee a little and wait for it to dry and pee a little more”. It was hard to not believe her so I didn’t know what to say to her after that.
Thank you to my Bangkok Runner friends for your input. Just so you know, these voices are a variety of ages, experience, gender and ethnicity. If you have any questions, put them in the comment section and I can pass on direct questions to anyone. I hope you learned something. I know I did.
In conclusion I leave you with the advice of my friend MB:
Don’t be afraid to just try it and fail. Learn from your mistakes. Everyone is different.
Then set your goals based on your initial experience.
Don’t over-think it, but respect that it is a challenge.