What I Think I Learned From My First Half Marathon – Part 1 of 3

I’ve had time to reflect on my first half marathon, The New Jersey Half Marathon in Long Branch, that I ran a little less than three weeks ago. I’ve been able to think about my training, week leading into the race, race day, and the days after the race. What I enjoyed, can improve upon, and what didn’t go right. I’m going to break this up into three separate blog posts. One for training, one for race day, and one for post race.

I’m hopeful that I will continue to improve and can take what I’ve learned and help me at my next half marathon. Currently, I’m signed up to run the Halloween Half Marathon in Morristown on Saturday, October 21st. I’m 99% sure I’m going to sign up to run the Newport Liberty Half Marathon on Sunday, September 17th. Let me know if you want to join me at either race.

Training – What I Did Well

  • I was proud of the long runs I accomplished throughout training. Going into this, I was used to running anywhere between 3-6 miles and would do it for 3-4 days a week.
  • I started my training at  the beginning of the new year, so I knew I had extra time to get more long runs in. I think this was a tremendous help.
  • Each week, I increased my long run by one mile. I started at 7, worked up to 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. My longest run ended up being around 12 1/2 miles but that was just due to the course I ran. I thought I was only going for 12 and I ended up running down a road I didn’t map out originally. I was able to work through these long runs more than once and eventually had 7 – 8 mile runs in the middle of the week.
  • I upped the number of days I ran during my training as my body adjusted. I started with 4 days and worked up to 5 days with a cross training day and one rest day per week.
  • I was able to run a few races as part of my training. I ran a 4-miler, 5K, and 10 miler. I thought this was very important as it showed I had an extra gear and also reminded me of what it was like to race with others. All of my training runs are solely, so you sometimes forget what it is like to have other runners around you for pacing or motivation.
  • I learned the importance of running at different paces and that it’s a good thing. Prior to this, I just would run. I know the benefits of a recovery run, race pace run, etc.
  • I was very fortune that it was warm for most days this winter in NJ. We also only had a few snowstorms. This helped me get outside to run more than I’m sure I would’ve in past years. I think this was a huge benefit.
  • I learned the importance of having multiple pairs of running sneakers and to rotate what you wear. Sneakers need recovery time too.
  • Keep enjoying my training runs. For the most part, I really enjoyed training. I think changing up my routes and distances help keep training interesting. I was able to explore areas of my neighborhood I didn’t really ever go around. There are plenty of other parts of town I can run that I haven’t really been around.

Training – Where I Can Improve

  • As you’ll read in my next blog post, I need to work on hydrating while running. This caught up to me on race day. This is seriously probably my biggest improvement area. I’ve already started working on it and I think my best course of action is to run with a bottle and switch it out at some point during the race with a new one if my wife is at the race. I’ve also ordered two Bottle Bands and will see if they work.
  • I need to do speed work. I really did not do any of this. I don’t know if it’s because I dreaded reading about it or that I was more worried about just creating a base to finish 13.1 miles. At first, I wasn’t concerned about my time and it was all about finishing without walking. I think this lead to me to not do speed work. I know it’s important and I need to add it in to my training. I need to do more interval runs, Fartlek runs, etc.
  • Core. I barely worked on my core at all. The core is so important for running. I’m holding myself to working on my core at least 3 days a week. Good thing is, I’ve already started this.
  • Sleep. I need to get in a habit of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to train. For this past half, I think I was going to bed too late and I was doing most of my training runs during my lunch hour or at the end of the work day. I need to train more earlier in the morning as most of these races are first thing in the morning. Also, I need to get more hours of sleep, especially the closer I get to race day.
  • Stretching. I didn’t stretch much when I first started training but I added it in and I need to continue it. I need to do more stretching post run too. I skip this way too much.
  • Weight Training. I wasn’t lifting at all in the begging but added it in to my routine about half way through. I need to continue with it. I don’t know if I need to do this or not, but I’m going to. I need to look at my watch less on some of my runs and just enjoy it.
  • Try out new running gear to see what is best for me.
  • Try out more fueling options.
  • Read more blogs to see what other runners like to do. Continue to learn and educate myself.

Where do you think you can improve on in training?
What part of your training routine do you do very well?

Stop back for the last two parts of this post and let me know how your training is going.

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2 Replies to “What I Think I Learned From My First Half Marathon – Part 1 of 3”

  1. A trick for hydration. I fill a throwaway bottle like a smart water bottle half way and drink it the first six miles of so and then ditch it at an aid station. Keeps from having to stop early and don’t need to lug a bottle around the whole time

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