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So You Want to Run Your First Half Marathon—Now What?

Consider this to be your go-to guide for your first 13.1.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

first half marathon

You’ve been inspired to run your very first half marathon, but aren’t quite sure what this means or exactly what to do next. There is a ton of training information available online, but it can be overwhelming and difficult to weed through it all in order to figure out exactly what you need to do. Therefore, I’m going to make this as simple as possible. You can view this as your guide to getting started running half marathons. Do these ten things and you’ll be all set to take on the challenge of completing your first 13.1.


1. Get a physical. If it’s been awhile since your last check-up, pay a visit to your doctor to make sure you’re in good health before starting a training program.

2. Build a fitness base. Before beginning a training plan, make sure you have been running 10-15 miles per week for a minimum of four weeks before jumping in.

3. Get strong. Ever heard the saying “Get strong before you run long?” Well if you haven’t, now you have! Your body must be strong in order to complete long runs and avoid injury. Make strength training a part of your training from day one.

Related: Get Strong With This Quick Upper Body Workout

4. Get fitted for shoes. The shoes you’ve been wearing for both your gym workouts and short runs may not be the best ones for your longer training runs.

5. Sign-up for a race. When picking a race, remember to give yourself enough time to build a fitness base and properly train. You’ll need a minimum of 14 weeks in total to get ready for the race.

6. Find a training plan. A half marathon training plan should be 10-12 weeks in length and should include a variety of workouts including days for strength training and cross training.

Related: 8 Week Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan

7. Use that foam roller over there in the corner. You’ll either love or hate me for this one, but it will be your new best friend. Use it daily to keep injuries at bay.

8. Start viewing food as fuel. Make sure you are properly fueled before, during and after your workouts so that you get the most out of every workout and recover quickly. If you are running for more than one hour, you may need to consider fueling during your run.

9. Gather the right gear. From handheld water bottles for mid-run hydration to anti-chafing cream, having the right gear will make training more enjoyable. It can also keep you from having to stop mid-run to find water or being uncomfortable from clothing that rubs your skin. Trust me on this one – aquaphor and body glide will protect you from that post long run shower sting.

10. Connect with the running community. Connect with a community of like-minded people so you can cheer each other on and have support on the days you just don’t feel like sticking to your training schedule.

Related: Find Insta-Friendships On Social Media