I Need Your Help!

Yesterday was another hot day, but I was smarter about where I went to run after work and chose a route I knew was partially shaded. I did 4 miles @ 8:22 and my legs felt like I had 10 pound weights strapped to my ankles.

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Halfway through my run I realized I hadn’t had a rest day since last Saturday, the day BEFORE my 14 mile run. Now is the time to get smart about resting and getting ready for my half marathon next Sunday,Β so I’m looking forward to a total day of rest today πŸ™‚

I’m so excited about my upcoming half, but I’m also really nervous. I feel prepared physically, but I can’t remember the last time I raced a new distance. I’ve been doing 5ks & 10ks since I was in high school, but this will be the very first time I attempt to race anything overΒ 6.2 miles. I don’t just want to finish, I want to run a good race. With my wedding less than four months away and my summer calendar quickly filling up, I’m not going to have time to do another half marathon until October in preparation for the Richmond Marathon in November. So, I want to make sure I make the most of this one.

I’ll be happy with anything under two hours, but I really want to push myself to get as close to that 1:50-1:55 range as I can. Since I’m inexperienced at this distance, I don’t really know what to expect, which kind of drives me crazy. My dad is going to run it with me, and he is quite the half marathon expert (he’s done more than 40 of them!!), so I know I’ll have good support during the race.

Now, this is where I need your help. I want to know anything and everything that you wish you knew before your first half marathon, or anything that you did know that really helped you out.Β Anything I can do now, tomorrow, next week, the night before or the day of is going to be helpful!!

Ready, set, GO

About Maddie @ Dixie Runs

I'm Maddie. I'm a long time runner who has finally decided to start training for my first marathon. I do a lot of running with my 3 year old redbone coonhound, Dixie. This blog is about our running adventures and a whole lot more.
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45 Responses to I Need Your Help!

  1. Don’t go out too fast! Remember that you won’t win a half marathon in the first mile. Save your energy for the second half. Get a LOT of rest this week – taper, taper, taper – but don’t just sit around! Short runs with some strides at the end (quick bursts of speed) will do the trick. Don’t carb load just the day before – take in carbs all week but don’t over eat, either πŸ™‚

    • Maddie says:

      I’m totally looking forward to the taper! And I’m going to try so hard to focus on not going out too fast.. that’s my biggest worry

  2. First of all – GOOD LUCK! I’m sure you’ll do great! I’ve done 11 halfs, and I would say resist the temptation to run too fast in the beginning even though you will be excited and everyone around you will be running fast. Don’t forget to fuel and remember to smile and enjoy the race! I personally think 13.1 miles is the perfect distance πŸ™‚

  3. Charissa says:

    Ah your first half marathon – how exciting!! You’ll do great!!!
    One piece of advice I never took when I first started racing longer distances was to start slow. It really makes the whole experience that much better when you can ease into your race pace slowly and finish strong.
    Night before: set your outfit and everything you will need in one place and charge your watch! Also, set about 3 alarms so you KNOW you won’t oversleep. And try to get a good night’s sleep – it’s hard but if you’re at least in bed with eyes closed, you’re getting good rest even if you can’t sleep πŸ™‚
    Morning of: Definitely use the potties before the race…and have fun!!

    Good luck!!! πŸ˜€

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks for the advice!! I definitely need to do the whole set out my outfit thing.. it’s a 7 am start so I’ll be a zombie when I wake up and I always forget something!

  4. Suzy says:

    Don’t go out too fast. But, you will. Everybody does it, even I still do it. It’s almost too irresistible. The amount of adrenalin pumping through your body is enough to need a team of wild horses to hold you back. But TRY dammit. Try. Oh, and Immodium. Have your coffee and oatmeal or whatever you eat about 2 hours before the race with a glass of sports drink, and then when you have your poo, take two Immodium. You’ll push yourself so hard in the race that you’ll nearly shit your pants. I should really get paid for all these anti-diarrhea promotions.

    • Maddie says:

      Ah yes, the glamorous side of distance running! This is some REAL advice, thanks πŸ™‚

      And I’m going to try so hard to start slow… even though you’re right, I probably won’t be able to. But I’m going to try!!

  5. Jason says:

    I feel so unoriginal – don’t go out too fast πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ and have fun. and good luck. and don’t go out too fast πŸ™‚

  6. I’m so excited for you!!! You’ve trained hard and you’re going to have a great race.
    Don’t go out too fast. Break the distance down into manageable distances so you won’t get overwhelmed by the miles. When you’re legs get tired, pump your arms and the legs will follow. Make sure to fuel and hydrate properly.
    Most importantly have fun!!!

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks Jennifer!! I’m definitely going to break it down in my mind so I don’t get overwhelmed.

  7. I’m so excited for you! Most of all, have fun and enjoy the race! We run because it’s fun!
    I always pop allergy medicine and Imodium before a race, even if I don’t think I need them. Better safe than sorry!
    Drink plenty of water up until one hour before the race, then only sips from then – it’ll keep you from feeling too full or having to use the restroom during the race.
    And always remember that there will be good miles and there will be bad miles – every runner has bad miles in a race, no matter how fast or well-trained they are.

    • Maddie says:

      That’s a good idea to take allergy medicine… I’ve never had allergies, but I feel like I’ve developed them this year and I really notice it when I’m running. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Karen says:

    I think you are going to do great! How awesome your Dad is so experienced and running with you, that is great support. I would take a rest day or two. It’ll do great things for your legs. I have run each half I’ve a little differently, so it’s hard to say…but the one thing i have learned is I don’t need to fuel much. Everyone is different. I usually drink about 80 oz. of water three days, every day before the race to hydrate well. I take Gatorade (which I normally don’t drink) but found especially, when hot miles 5, 7 , 9, with Gatorade help me more than just water. My last half I ran it was hot and humid, and I took water a few times as well, but I took a sip and would dump the rest down my back.
    It’ll all be fine! I hope you have a great race πŸ™‚

  9. Rest your legs!! Taper makes you crazy but it works. Drop your mileage and rest this week. Do light exercises and lots of stretching, rolling, etc. also, stay mentally tough. You’ve done 14 already so you KNOW you can do the distance. That’s not an issue. Make a race plan with your ideal splits and hold yourself to it. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and go out way too fast and then be holding on for dear life at the end. If you have a plan, write splits on your arm and hold yourself accountable. It’s hard when you find yourself getting passed by so many people at the beginning, but it’s so much more fun to be passing them all at the finish πŸ™‚

    • Maddie says:

      I hate being passed, which is why it’s so hard for me in the beginning to hold back, but I’m going to make it my #1 goal in the first two miles of the race to keep my pace slow and steady.

  10. The same thing that I tell everyone before their first marathon, or anything else: Trust your training. And then just have fun. Deep breaths, do what you know, and then just go. You’ll be great!

    • Maddie says:

      Thanks Susie πŸ™‚ That’s great advice.. sometimes it’s hard to trust that you’ve done enough, especially the first time around!

  11. Like everyone has said, don’t go out too fast!!! Try not too get so caught up on n the excitement that you burn up all of your energy in the first few miles.
    Make sure you have your fuel (gels, Gus, chomps whatever) with you if you are going to use it. I know some people rely on the fuel they hand out, but that can be bad if the tace runs out or something else happens. Just be prepared!

    Take it easy this week. You’re not gong to gain fitness or speed in one week, so just enjoy your taper!

  12. I gotta echo the others…don’t go out too fast. I always remind myself of that on every race, whatever the distance.
    Most of all, relax!!! Trust your training πŸ™‚ #yougotthis

  13. steph says:

    I did my first half in January after doing a lot of my training in W-S. My worst run was actually the last long run, 12 miles on the Greensboro greenway (ran out of water, heat, day after Christmas, the list goes on…), so my flat Charleston course was great in comparison!

    I would say that what I learned was that I ran too much during training. Really. I took too few rest days and cut way back on yoga/stretching, barre, and strength training. Big mistake. I could’ve totally used more core strength around mile 11. I finished pretty strong (2:03) but I am going to train differently next time.


    • Maddie says:

      That scares me because I’m doing the Race 13.1 Greensboro and a lot of it is on the greenway! I haven’t ran on it at all during training so I don’t know what it’s like.. that could end up being a good or bad thing πŸ™‚

      I’ve been keeping up with my strength but did cut back a little to avoid getting hurt. I haven’t been lifting weights like I was before I started training, but I have been doing body weight exercises like planks, push ups, squats and lunges.

      • steph says:

        You’ll be fine!

        I just got a late start, was unfamiliar with the route and the stinking water fountains didn’t work. It is really a nice place to run. It will be great…I promise!

  14. Jamie says:

    My best tip before your first half is to let yourself be nervous! The nerves are a good thing! You’ve done all the preparations and are ready to go : ) . The biggest mistake I made before my first half was to only run 6 miles (yea… 13 is a LOT longer). Otherwise, I always try to drink wayyyy more water than I usually do starting 72 hours before the race. Same with slowly increasing my carbohydrate intake. However, I don’t carb load the night before the race – I find it makes me feel heavier and more lethargic the next morning. But again – that’s just me! I’m so excited for you!! Now it’s time to rest and RESPECT THE TAPER (probably second most important piece of advice in this word vomit). Have an awesome weekend!!

  15. Ariana says:

    Since a lot of people have warned about going out too fast (wait until the half way point to pick up pace), I will give you this advice – ENJOY IT. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Also, sometime in the last 2-3 miles you may have thoughts of “Why the hell did I do this?” but those feelings fade very quickly when the race is over so just push through it πŸ™‚

    • Maddie says:

      Haha, I’ve had those thoughts on some of my training runs… Like why on earth am I do this!? But it’s all worth it!

  16. Awww πŸ™‚ I remember feeling this way before my first half. Don’t go out too fast is an obvious one, and like a commenter above said – you’ll probably do it anyway. We all do. Even elite runners sometimes do. Paces just don’t feel the same on race day as they do in training. Just try to control it the best you can.

    My best advice is to not be too hard on yourself and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Nobody gets it perfect on their first try, and this is only the beginning of your journey. You are still learning and growing all the time. Whether you have the best or worst race of your life, this is a stepping stone that you can use to improve your running to be even better at your next race. You only get one first half marathon, so don’t let it go by without having fun!

    It’s normal to be nervous and doubtful. But that’s okay. It means you care and you’re pumped up. The emotional roller coaster leading up to big races is part of what makes it all so much fun πŸ™‚

    I wish you the best of luck. Remember – you are a good runner. Try your best and I’m sure you will do well and be very proud of yourself.

    • Maddie says:

      Thank you Hanna!!! You really do give the best advice… Maybe that’s why I stalk your blog on the daily haha πŸ™‚

  17. Honestly, with your training and everything, I think you’ll be great.

    I wish I had known how to hydrate and eat during a half while avoiding cramps. And I wish I had known how to pace myself to have a strong finish without slowing down in the middle, or hitting my usual wall (9 miles during a half).

  18. Mannnn your guy did good.! look at that gorgeous ring on your finger.! I love it. haha (sorry, I know unrelated)

    but.!! I think that the best advice you already gave yourself. “you feel prepared” all the work is done before the race even begins. Since you’ve already done many 5k & 10k’s, you really don’t have much to worry about. You’re going to rock it.! and you’ll hardly notice the extra miles (as long as you pace properly. not going out too fast..etc. ) So excited for you girl.!

  19. GiGi Eats says:

    Sadly I have never run a marathon of sorts, however….. The advice I could give you is to punch anyone in your way with your HUGE ROCK! πŸ˜‰

  20. Kristen says:

    Good luck! Half marathons are so much fun – I ran my first one last February and I’m now training for half #6! My biggest advice: make sure you’re hydrating really well all next week and get a good meal and a good night’s sleep 2 nights before the race. You are going to do awesome!

  21. The night before my first half marathon my coach said to me, “remember, you chose to run this race; you love running, don’t be nervous because this is what you LIKE to do! ” I think about that before every single race and it always helps to alleviate any anxiety.

    The one thing I wish I had NOT done before my first half was carbo load. I totally over did it thinking “whoo freedom to eat ALL THE PASTA” which was just dumb and I woke up on race morning with the worstttt stomach ache that persisted throughout the entire race.

  22. Just try to relax and trust your training! Take it easy in the beginning, and Im sure your body will surprise you! Also, make sure you get enough rest before the race! Maybe you can also practice your race day plan a few days before the race (like pre-race food and wearing your race outfit). Good luck!!!

  23. You’re going to rock this half! I wish I’d known how special the first big race was going to be. I was nervous and worried about doing something wrong… I wish I had spent more time just looking around and enjoying the atmosphere. It’s your first half – so an automatic official PR! ; ) Have so much fun!

  24. Yay! Congrats on running your first half marathon! I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m so glad I did! My advice is hydrate the entire week before! Also, make sure to foam roll, stretch/ do yoga, and begin to add more complex carbs to your diet. I tend to run with pace groups for the first 1/3-1/2 of race and then pick up the pace and ditch them. I would say just relax into it during the first few miles and find your groove!

  25. Pingback: The Richmond Marathon is TOMORROW! - Dixie RunsDixie Runs

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