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5 Common Mistakes Runners Make During Half Marathon Training

Are you making these training mistakes as you prepare for 13.1?

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There are some common mistakes that new runners (and even some experienced ones) make when training for one of the most popular distances in our sport.

If you’re gearing up for a spring 13.1, make yourself aware of these five common mistakes many make while training. Even experienced runners ignore the best advice – you know who you are – at certain times. No one is perfect, so bookmark this page or copy these tips into Notes on your phone, and make a date with yourself to check in with this list before the start of a training season. 

5 Top Mistakes Runners Make in Training and Preparing for a Half Marathon

1. Starting too fast

Starting too fast does not only pertain to races! Before beginning any half-marathon training program, you should honestly assess where you are and what a reasonable goal is. If you can, consult with a coach or take a look at your running log over the past six months and decide how much volume and speed you can handle. Taking on too much mileage or interval training before you build a solid training base will result in exhaustion at best and injury at worst. Remember, your cardio engine will improve quicker than your connective tissues, tendons and muscles. So while your heart might be saying ‘go!’ give the rest of your body the chance to catch up. Heeding this call early on, will mean you’re running strong and uninjured coming in to race week. 

2. Wearing something new on race day

There is a golden rule in racing: nothing new on race day. From the hat on your head to the socks on your feet, all clothing and gear should be previously tested on at least one long run. Those race t-shirts can be a lure to wear on race day, but please avoid the temptation of wearing them for the first time on race day, unless you love chafing or enjoy adjusting your clothing every 30 seconds.  Choose your race kit early on in the training cycle and test it out well before race day.

3. Your easy runs are too hard

Lindsey Hein, mother runner and woman behind the popular I’ll Have Another running podcast, tweeted this about her husband: “Glenn is training for a 2:45ish marathon and ran his easy miles at 9-minute pace today. Just a reminder that easy days are meant to be easy and it in no way will negatively affect how fast you race.”

Truer words could not have been tweeted. The next time you have an easy run scheduled, think of Glenn and make it truly easy. Your body and mind will thank you.

4. You don’t know your race pace

It seems like a no-brainer, but so many of us are guilty of lining up for a half marathon without truly knowing the realistic paces we want to hit. Midway though training, you should have a very good idea of what pace you can hold for 13.1 miles. That pace (or within 30 seconds per mile) should be practiced in several tempo runs before race day.  

Related: The Easiest Way to Figure Out Your Race Pace

5. You have no race day/morning plan

Successful half-marathon dreams can shatter before the race even begins if you don’t have a pre-race plan in place. Think about what time you need to leave, consider traffic or unexpected delays and remember that being early is better than the alternative. Know where you’ll park or how far the start is from the train or bus, and have a backup plan in place. Locate the starting corrals before getting in line for the porta potty and get in line early–even if you don’t have to go yet. Planning your race-day details in advance (including your outfit, gear, hydration, fuel, post- and pre-race snacks) will almost guarantee a stress-free race start.  Better yet, write a Race Morning Checklist, reverse engineer the timing, so you know where you need to be when.  Oh, and calculate in some extra time, just in case. 

Related: A Half-Marathon Training Plan That Works For Every Runner

The Half Marathoner’s Meal Plan

Race-Day Tips To Make It From Start To Finish

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