As I’ve shared before, I have signed up for two half marathons, and I have technically completed one of them, but my finish was so late that I’m not sure it even counts.
On both occasions, I made critical errors that led to a limping-6-hour-finish or a DNS. I hope you can learn from the error of my ways and, if you want to run a half marathon, avoid these uncommon pitfalls.
Here are my top three ways how not to train for a half marathon.
Don’t: expect to duck out early for brunch
True story, the friend who convinced me to sign up for my first half marathon told me we’d walk/jog the first few miles and then duck out for brunch. I was all about that plan, so I gamely joined in.
We did not bail for brunch, no matter how many ideal locations I pointed out along the course. We ran for the first 4 miles (by far the furthest I’d ever run, and which I actually enjoyed), walk / jogged the next few, then limped the rest of the way.
Instead of basking in elation at the finish line, we shivered in the San Francisco fog. Instead of stopping to enjoy mimosas in the Marina, we were disappointed by an empty snack table and long exhausted canteens of Bailey’s and hot chocolate.
What I learned: don’t sign up for a run when what you really want is brunch.
Don’t: go too hard, too fast
The second half marathon I signed up for was the Shiner Half outside of Austin, TX. Again, a friend convinced me to sign up. Again, I was motivated by the beer at the finish line (I am nothing if not predictable).
This time, I realized I needed to actually train. So I signed up for run club at 5:30 am and even enjoyed it for the first few weeks. I loved running with the group and like so many have before me, found it was the perfect way to take my mind off the actual running.
To keep up with my run buddies, I went too far, too fast, and seriously hurt my knee. There was a lot of limping on the return leg of an 8 mile run, and then several weeks of PT to bring that knee back into action.
From there, things fizzled.
What I learned: don’t jump from 4 miles up to 8 miles in a week.
By time I was ready to run again, I had committed the third mistake when you’re training for a half marathon:
Don’t: get pregnant
This is not to say you can’t run while pregnant. Later in my pregnancy I became the strongest runner I’ve ever been thanks to … wait for it… consistency.
And there are a bazillion warrior women who do amazing physical feats while pregnant.
But during early pregnancy, the only thing I am physically able to train for is keeping saltines inside my body.
What I confirmed: surviving first trimester nausea is all consuming.
Do: try, try again
My life circumstances have changed quite a bit since my first half marathon fail:
- I no longer trust Ellen. (Hi, 👋 Ellen, I love you!)
- I am not trying to keep up with people who are way faster than me. (Hi, 👋 Dasha, Jean!)
- I will never be pregnant again.
So hey, why not try again? And this time, I’m setting myself up for success in a few key ways:
- I picked a race in Tahoe. Just admiring the scenery will help me keep my spirits up even when the altitude is literally sucking the wind out of my sails.
- I’m starting slow and steady, and I’m keeping my accountability partners close at hand. (Yet again, Gixo is my dream workout buddy; I get to socialize with people at all levels, from super speedy Megan and Jamie to people who are more my speed or who are walking, not running), while only competing against myself.
- There’s a pool party at the end, and I trust that no matter how slow I am, the Hard Rock Hotel will not run out of margaritas before I arrive.
Will you be my accountability partner? I need all I can get!
TRAIN WITH ME: Join me for a run on Gixo (first class free, no credit card required with code FITFOWARD). I’m doing the Healthy Heart Challenge this month, the 6am Central time slot. Come join me for some sleepy sweaty action.
RUN WITH ME: I’m doing the Rock Tahoe Half on June 15 in South Lake Tahoe. We’ll be having a flash sale on Fit Approach on Feb 19 — make sure you’re signed up for emails to get notified about the sale.