(Enter disclaimer text) This list of half marathon training essentials comes to you from someone who grew up walking the Presidential Physical Fitness Test mile and turned into a running junkie. While I’ve been running for five years with a Half Marathon medal hanging in my house, I’m no expert but want to share as I go.
Half Marathon Training Essentials
When I first started running, I had no idea how much gear runners really needed. Granted, I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy a hockey bag to fit your stuff, but it’s definitely more complicated than “I have feet and shoes, what more do I need?”.
Speaking of shoes, I’m not going to get into the shoe conversation. What I found best is to have your feet analyzed at a shoe store (we’re not talking the bargain stores either) and find the right shoe that works for you. Personally, I’ve tried lots of brands and have different shoes (like my kids, no favorites).
Be ready to spend, too. You’re going to want something that works and will last long miles with you. It’s worth it to spend $80 – $140 for a good pair of shoes. Think of the medical deductibles you are saving and tell yourself it is okay. (I am a sucker for watching sales and have gotten a few of mine on BOGO half-off deals!)
Also, be ready to replace. I’ll be breaking in my pair for race day in a few weeks. After shoes get 300 or so miles on them, it’s time to save them for a mud run.
Run a hole into your sock once and you’ll never do it again. Get some good socks and change them out often. Your socks are important because they’ll keep your feet cool and dry and (hopefully) blister free.
Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon events is just awful timing. We get dumped on with snow and cold, often having to get to the treadmill (I did four miles on it today). My boss (who has run multiple marathons and more), recommends Yaktrax cleats for training on the ice and snow. They slip over your shoes and help you get out when it’s warm enough to run but still snow covered.
As your runs get longer, you’ll want somewhere to put your fuel. For me, a running belt makes sure I have my phone and inhaler on me, always a must. This one will hold all your things and is adjustable as your running impacts your weight (in a good way!).
A Good Playlist
This one, 105 Songs for Running, is full of classics that will pump you up. If you don’t already have unlimited music on your phone, I suggest Amazon Prime Music to work on your playlist, too.
LED Running Light
Let’s face it, you aren’t going to be running in the daylight all the time. I recommend getting a slap-on LED wrist band to help others see you on your path at night.
I’m a big fan of Nike+ Run Club (an app), Map My Run (also an app), and my FitBit Charge 2 (which monitors my Heart Rate and tracks my run/pace). You have to get what works for you and what will motivate you as you go. As for consistency, I find my FitBit to be closest while I use MapMyRun on the PC to confirm my distances. You can never be too sure.
Literally just days ago I fell in love with aminos for post-workout recovery. I’m not a health professional, so I’ll leave this one to you, but consider looking into a recovery beverage or cookie (yup!) that is going to make you feel flexible and recovered. Don’t play like me and sit at your desk without moving for hours after a run (again guilty tonight).
After your run, you’re going to want to roll out all the ouchies. I have tried this foam roller and while it is pretty firm, it does the trick. One with trigger points is on my wish list, though!
Training for a half is tough. It is time consuming. You eat a lot. You cry a lot. You want to sleep a lot. Your spouse gets tired of you talking about running. Your pace is like a jack rabbit one day and a turtle the next. If you’re in it, you’re tough. Just believe in yourself.
I’ve gone back and forth about a good plan. Many runners I know follow Hal Higdon’s plan. I’m mostly following his plan this time around, but I fall between beginning half-runner and novice half-runner. Whatever you pick, make it fit in your life.
If you have done a Half Marathon or Marathon before, what are your must have items that you would add to this list?
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