I’m writing this approximately 8 hours after finishing my first half marathon. I’ve learned a lot from the training and the event itself, so from a layman’s perspective, I thought a few top tips for running your first half marathon, might be useful to future runners!
Follow a training plan
I didn’t. Pot, kettle. But I had knee issues on the second of only 2 long runs that I did prior to the race, meaning that this morning as we got to Hyde Park for the Royal Parks Half, I was bricking it.
I’d have felt much better had I trained more efficiently and been able to have more faith in my body.
Get your head in the game
Feel that you can do it, tell yourself you can do it. Repeatedly! Find Facebook groups, Instagram hashtags, other people who are in the same place and will be your support.
Relax the night before, eat a decent meal with slow release carbs, low fat, and low protein, chill, get an early night. Arrive at the starting point early so that you’re not panicking about getting there, and check transport before you leave because roads in the area are likely to be closed or very busy, and public transport running differently to normal.
Don’t take ibuprofen
Leading on from my bad knee, it is very strongly recommended that you do not take ibuprofen before or during a long run. This is because ibuprofen can cause kidney damage, as can dehydration, so those two things combined probably aren’t a great idea. The stats aren’t crazy high in studies, but doctors and nurses I’ve spoken to recommended avoiding alp non-steroid anti inflammatory medication.
You can apparently take ibuprofen once you have finished the race and have urinated once.
Have an early breakfast
Don’t eat in less than a good 2-3 hours before the start of the start of the half marathon; a heavy tummy full of food jiggling around as you run for 13.1 miles doesn’t sound like much fun.
I had a pre- race breakfast of muesli, smoothie, and coffee.
Go to the loo! (And don’t drink too much water before the start)
Not a pleasant topic, I’m aware, but a crucial one. Running when you’re desperate for the loo (in either, erm, form) is no fun. Just ask Paula Radcliffe – and me. There were toilets around the race route today, but they could be a good few miles apart, so go before you run and then any stops along the way will be for convenience rather than emergency!
Take water at every chance along the way
I think there were 5 or 6 water points during he half marathon, as well as 2 Lucozade stations. We took a bottle at every one because even if you only have a few sips, your body will thank you! The water is also great for tipping over your head for a cooling touch!
Enjoy every moment
I know, clichè, but it’s a huge day in your life and you should embrace it wholeheartedly!
Some parts were tough, some parts were too hot or too quiet or too uneven and I struggled a bit, but I genuinely loved every minute of the race and finished feeling on top of the world. In spite of the blood blistered toe, sore feet from my old running shoes, and stench – sorry to the taxi driver and fellow train passengers for the latter…!