What To Expect When You’re Expecting…To Run Your First Half Marathon

Posted on May 10, 2011


JOHN DAVENPORT/jdavenport@express-news.net

Get to the race site early to give yourself time to go to the bathroom, check your bags and stretch.

Do not stress if you did not get much sleep the night before.  I have run a half marathon with 4 hours of sleep.  I have never slept more than 6 hours before a race.  Of course you want to try and get as much sleep as possible.  I suggest going to bed very early the night before to give yourself a lot of time to fall asleep. 

Have everything prepared and ready to go the night before the race.  You do not want to forget anything important.  Lay out your clothes, bib, shoes…everything!

Your training has prepared you more than you realize.  Have confidence! 

Weather plays a huge role in how comfortable your run will be.  Dress in layers if it is cold.  Remember that when you are running you warm up quickly.  Basically, if the weather is going to be 45 degrees or above you likely will not need a long sleeve shirt.  Also, it is important to note that you are allowed to throw layers of clothes off to the side during the run.  They will donate anything you throw to the curb.

Do not wear something you have not trained in!  By this I mean new shoes, shirts, shorts, underwear…nothing new.  A lot of people will buy new things at the expo the day before and wear it during the race.  I have heard people complain about new sports bras, earphones, shoes, shorts and shirts during my half marathons.  Again, run in what you trained in!

Wear a cap if there will be sun.  I always run in a cap no matter what.  It helps catch sweat so it’s not dripping down my face and into my eyes and mouth.  Dri-Fit caps are great!

Remember to use Body Glide.  It really does help, especially in warm weather. 

Bring a small roll of toilet paper just in case they don’t have any in the port-o-potty.  You can often find a small .99 cent travel one at Target or Walmart.  Many times at races they run out of toilet paper and you don’t want to be stuck without it.  You will be nervous before the race and a pit stop is very likely.  There are bathrooms about every mile and a half throughout the race.  I have seen people go behind bushes.  Honestly, unless you really really have to, just wait for the port-o-potty.

If the race is chip-timed don’t worry so much about being in a later corral.   However, please don’t move up into a corral if you know it is not the appropriate corral for you.  It is often harder for faster runners to run around you.

Do not start too quickly!  Often the adrenaline you receive from the crowd and runners around you make you start much quicker than you would like.  Don’t worry about them.  Worry about yourself.  Start off at a comfortable pace and gradually increase.  I have seen so many people stop just into the second mile all red-faced because they started too quickly.  As I always say, “Be smart about your start.”

Take advantage of all the water stations.  They are there for a reason.  Also try and mix in the Gatorade or Powerade they provide.  They help give you energy.

When drinking and running it’s smart to pinch the top of the cup in order to funnel the water into your mouth.  This will help decrease the chance of spillage and prevent water being poured into your nose.

Make sure your bib is pinned in a place that will be easily identifiable if you want to find yourself in pictures.

Listen to the crowds, because they are there to support you.  They make the race a lot easier and a lot more fun.

When you finish the race try to keep moving for a few minutes after so that your body does not tighten up.  Remember to stretch. 

Take advantage of the free food after the race.  It is there for a reason.

Be appreciative of all the volunteers.  Without them the race couldn’t be done.

Do not forget to just enjoy the race.  Take it all in – the atmosphere, the people and the race itself.  It is a time in your life you will never forget.