Half Marathons · Training

How To Not Train For A Half Marathon

Hi everyone!  So while I was out to dinner with my husband this weekend, our conversation turned to my next half marathon.  And while the idea of running the Zion Half Marathon next March is super exciting, I’m a little worried.  Mostly because my last two half marathons were kind of rough.  I ran four half marathons this year – two before our move and two after.  And the two after were significantly worse.  Why?  I trained all wrong.  I’ve seen similar posts on other blogs, and now I can finally say that I’ll be joining them in explain how to not train for a half marathon:

20140721-193030.jpgWhat success doesn’t look like: mile 13 of the Her Tern Half Marathon in July.

Put your body through tons of stress.  Running is a stress reliever, right?  Well kind of…unless you’re stressed about so much and then you start to stress about not running enough too.  That kind of stress is seriously not good for your running game.

Run because you have to, not because you want to.  So you’re stressed out, tired, and just worked a 10 hour day, and now it’s time for that scheduled 9 mile training run.  There are two ways to do it:  take a deep breath and choose a fun course for your run to make the most of it, or grumble and complain until you’re out the door…and want to give up 3 miles into it.  And then repeat that for a few weeks in a row.  It is the quickest way to resent a half marathon and make you want to never run one again!

Eat whatever you want before and after a run.  Some of the worst things I’ve eaten before running were pepperoni pizza and thai chicken.  Spicy food is going to kill your stomach and make you want to die halfway through your run.  Oatmeal won’t.  I got better at this while training for my second post-move half marathon, but I’ve had some painful reminders of why this is important.  Also, after you finish your run don’t wait an hour or two to eat.  Ouch.

Don’t drink enough water.  I feel like there are weeks where I’m awesome at hydrating, and then there are weeks where I only drink one cup of water per day.  My easy fix for this is using a refillable water bottle with measurements on the side so that I can see how much I’m drinking per day and challenge myself to get there.  But for some reason I’m not able to consistently do it.

Only run when the weather is perfect.  I missed some running opportunities during some crazy downpours in Seward.  I feel like I sometimes draw the line at running in anything worse than a steady rain for long periods of time.  But we all remember my second half marathon – if I can run in that for 2.5 hours I should be able to run a half hour in something much less wet!

Sign up for a race with significantly different climate conditions.  I actually did this for half marathon #1 (50 degrees warmer than training) and #4 (30 degrees warmer than training), and I felt the effects of the heat and humidity both times.  Now that I live in Alaska, I’ll probably need to make many of my race trips to the lower 48 during the winter so I don’t have to worry so much about acclimating to crazy weather changes!

Don’t follow any sort of plan and do whatever you want.  Sure, I had Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training plan written on my calendar.  Did I follow it?  Nope.  In both of my second half marathons I don’t think I went farther than 9 miles.  And during both of those races I completely bonked in the last few miles.  Coincidence?  Nope.  I also wasn’t feeling strong and I don’t think I was running enough each week to get me fully ready for those races.

IMG_3009Dragging my way through the last .1 mile of the Beat The Blerch Half with a big thumbs up…because I was so close to eating cake.

Looking back on my experiences, I’m kind of sad.  I spent time and money planning for these races, and got so excited when I signed up for both of them.  And then I trained for them all wrong.  It’s made me really stop and think about why I’m signing up for these races.  Is it worth it?  Should I have even tried to run these races during such a difficult and stressful time in my life?  Am I even enjoying the training and racing?  And if not, how can I get excited about race training again?

20140225-231603.jpgAfter my first half – feeling so proud, happy, and strong!

With my next half marathon 4 months away, I’ve got about 1 month until official training begins.  I’m currently taking a break from training, which means that I’m trying to run whenever I feel like it with a slightly longer run on the weekends.  I’m trying to fall in love with running again, and I’m doing a pretty good job at it.  My new running routes are beautiful and exciting, and that’s been helping a lot!  So in the next month, I’m going to continue to run for fun while keeping in mind that this time, I’m actually going to train for a half marathon again.  I want to feel as strong as I felt at Disney Princess and the Love Run, and that means doing absolutely nothing on this page.  And I’m hoping that I’ll finally be ready for a real training plan!  Any suggestions?

Do you have any tips to add to my list?  What’s the worst half marathon you’ve ever run and why did it end up that way?

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15 thoughts on “How To Not Train For A Half Marathon

  1. This is a great post. If you have trouble hydrating, you should try a water tracking app like Water Your Body–they have reminders that you can set up to pop up and tell you to drink more water!

    My first half was really miserable only because it was like 90 degrees with 90% humidity and full sun. I had trained, I was hydrated, but it sucked anyway. I’m glad you’re taking a training break to find the love again. I hope it goes well this next month and you come back ready to kick butt!

    1. Thanks! I should definitely try an app like that – I need all the help I can get! I feel terrible when I’m not drinking enough water so I have no idea why I’m not trying harder.

  2. You’ve learned some great lessons, Kristen. Properly fueling is especially important. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way too. Just because you’re burning more calories doesn’t mean that you can eat anything and everything that you want to.

    1. So true. On race morning I’m super careful about what I eat, why wouldn’t I do that for a 10 mile training run too? I am going to be better about this next time so that I can enjoy my long runs more!

  3. Thanks for sharing, it’s really helpful! I struggle with getting enough water in too. And I’m signing up for a training group again in the Winter so that will hopefully prevent me from wimping out in the cold. As an aside, I just saw your Beat the Blerch recap. It sounds like a fun race overall. I hope they do one on the east coast.

    1. That’s such a good idea! I wish they had that kind of thing here, it would keep me motivated to go out for a run when I’m not feeling like it! I think that’s a big problem for me – I have no training partners and I’m the only one keeping myself accountable which clearly is not good. And yes, Beat the Blerch was awesome AND I do think he’s bringing it out to the east coast soon!

  4. My first race ever was a half marathon & I didn’t understand what training really was – I felt it – it was AWFUL!! Since then, I truly understand all the WRONG things to do…

  5. All excellent tips dear! I would also add that working out just to “cross train” versus having a set plan and intention isn’t the greatest idea. Any strength training needs to be specifically planned and catered towards your race goal.

    1. Okay so I have no idea what you’re talking about 🙂 This is why I’m failing at training plans! So I plan on joining a gym and taking some yoga, spin, or barre classes as cross training. Which of those is best if I want to run strong and fast? And where did you learn this information?

  6. Hahah oh man yes….I’ve def “prepared” for a race this way and though I was super happy and proud of myself when I crossed that finish line it was pretty miserable during lol.

  7. I’ve run a few miserable H/Ms this summer in the heat. They really shook my confidence. I’ve tried to train smart for the next one (a week away) but my pace has not returned. I don’t feel ready. I need to regroup or reboot or something. You are smart to take some time to just make it fun again.

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