13.1 Vital Tips To Complete A Half-Marathon Without Training (And Without Dying)

13.1 Vital Tips To Complete A Half-Marathon Without Training (And Without Dying)

I spent a lot of time Googling, 'How Not To Kill Yourself Running A Half-Marathon You Didn't Train For'.
29705
views

Last weekend I completed a Half-Marathon that I didn’t train for at all. On top of that, I hadn’t run in about a year and have never completed a distance over 8 miles

That sounds insane, right?

Well, yes and no.

A few weeks before the race, I spent a good chunk of time in and out of the emergency room— mostly due to a complication from a spinal tap. During that time, my couch had become my best friend.

As someone who is fairly active and social: I hated every minute of it.

I was so sick that I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do anything other than lay on the couch and watch Netflix.

When I was finally well enough to start walking around again— I started thinking about my life and my bucket list:

So much of life is taken for granted. It’s been a life goal of mine for the longest time to complete a half-marathon, and I’ve always assumed that I would be able to train for it when I finally graduate. When I have more time— I'd do it then.

But that's not an assumption anyone should make. Tomorrow isn't promised. Your health isn't promised.

Right now, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m young, and I know how to listen to my body. I’ve run for a few years in the past, and I have pretty good technique. So, what’s stopping me? Why not do it now?

I realized that the only real obstacle in my way was myself and my excuses.

So, I hopped online and registered for the Brewer’s Mini Marathon— a process that was both filled with excitement for the feat to come, and apprehension over whether or not this decision was going to retroactively kill me.

To ease that newfound anxiety, a lot of my free-time was spent researching how not to kill yourself while running a Half-Marathon you didn’t train for— which gave me a ton of knowledge to draw from when race day came. Knowledge was the only weapon to help me through.

If you’re thinking about following my lead, I’ve shared some tips to help you along:

1. If You Aren’t Young, Or In Great Shape— Don’t Follow My Example.

If you have any existing issues with your knees, lungs, or heart: Do NOT do what I did.

Not training can lead to serious injuries, all of which are not remotely worth the risk. If you’re adamant to do it: Focus on walking it. It sounds unimpressive— but walking this race is actually pretty difficult. Not everyone is able to complete it.

However, if you are in the best shape of your life and have a history of running (or some other vigorous, aerobic activity): Go for it— but be cautious.

2. Don’t Set A Time Goal

Unless you've trained, you have no reason to have a time goal. Your only goal is finishing the course. That's it.

3. Pace Yourself

My first 3 miles were easy-peasy. So easy, in fact, that I beat my PR for the last 5K I ran— and I wasn’t even trying.

When I hit mile 5, I was still going pretty strong. However, I think if I had walked more, in the beginning, I wouldn’t have crashed so hard at mile 10. Take it from me: Don’t run until you feel like stopping.

Set intervals, and take it easy.

4. Don’t Forget Your Music

This tip is pretty much up to your own discretion. The first half of my race was incredible without music— but when I started crashing near the end, a power anthem would have helped so much. Make sure you have that with you.

5. Eat Intelligently The Week Before (And Day Of)

Make sure you’re getting a lot of your calories from complex carbs, and that you’re drinking about 2-3L of water per day in the week leading up to it. Basically, this will make sure that your body runs as efficiently as possible during the race— especially since it will likely take you well over 2 hours to finish.

On top of that: Eat a large breakfast or lunch the day before, and make sure that your dinner is light (if it’s a morning race). The morning of, be smart about what you eat. This guide was incredibly helpful for me.

6. Bring nutrition with you!

I didn’t consume mine at the recommended intervals, which is likely a big part of why I crashed at the last leg as hard as I did.

Look at nutrition like chews and gels. They’ll replenish your electrolytes and give your body the carbs it needs to keep rockin’ on. Read the directions, and follow them to a T. Also, ask whoever is helping you for advice on each product— they’re more than happy to help.

As a side note: If you haven’t used chews or gels in the past, I was advised that you should stick with chews. Also, do not mix it with Gatorade. Stick with water. The last thing you want is to spend the last half of the race in a port-a-potty.

You’re already going to be in a ton of pain— that just adds insult to injury.

7. Have Realistic Expectations

This goes hand-in-hand with setting realistic goals (i.e.: Your only goal should be to finish). Realize and come to terms with the fact that you are going to HURT. Maybe not during the race— but you will hurt afterward for a few days. Do not plan to run this if you have anything important to do later that day.

On top of that, if you don’t want to hurt afterward— make sure that you know how to take care of yourself post-race.

8. Wear The Proper Gear

I’m not typically an advocate for buying clothes for specific races or events— but if you don’t have the appropriate gear, your experience is going to be awful.

Invest in a well-fitting tech-shirt that is the appropriate weight for the weather. Do not wear cotton. Yeah, that band tee of yours is pretty sweet, and I know you want to show it off— but do not wear it. You’re going to sweat a lot, and that shirt is going to stay wet— which can be dangerous in colder weather, and even more dangerous when you consider the fact that you haven’t trained properly. More likely than not: your body hasn’t quite learned how to regulate your temperature efficiently while running, so it's important that you wear something that will help wick away sweat.

Rule of thumb: Dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is. If it’s 50 degrees outside, dress for 70. If you feel warm at the starting line— you’re going to be boiling by mile 5.

Guys: put band-aids over your nipples, unless you’re highly masochistic and enjoy the idea of your chest bleeding at mile 8.

Women: Wear running tights/capris that are well-fitted and comfortable. The reasoning for this is two-fold— You don’t have to worry about adjusting them since they tend to stay put. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about the torture that is chafing. Also, make sure that you’re wearing a high-impact Sports Bra that is well-fitting and comfortable. (I got a really nice one at Nordstrom’s Rack for around $12).

Running Shoes: if you don’t own a pair of running shoes— ones that have been properly fitted for you— invest in a pair. This is probably the most important thing for you to have. If you are wearing ill-fitting running shoes, you’ll most likely have a lot of issues near the end of your race. If you don’t want foot pain, really bad knee pain (or worse)— get a good pair of running shoes. If the shoes they fit you in are a bit too pricey, it’s always worth looking online for the previous model. That alone can knock a shoe’s price from $130 to $70.

Overall: Be smart about your gear, and know that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get quality stuff.

9. Talk To People

Before the race and during— runners are typically pretty friendly people, and I promise you’ll find someone who’s just as nervous as you. If you’re keeping pace with someone, and they seem open— feel free to talk to them. A Half-Marathon is not an easy feat, and it really helps to know you’re in it with other people.

10. For you— this is not a competition

The first few miles were such an incredible experience. I made the mistake of deciding that my goal was to finish before the person who was keeping pace with me. Even if we both fell behind on time— as long as I finished before her, I would be alright with my results.

Nope. Big fat double-nope. Don't do that.

Around mile 10, that goal flew out the window. She was well ahead of me, and I realized my mistake: This was not a competition. I didn’t train, so I have no right to treat it like an actual race. For myself, and anyone else who hadn’t trained: This was a war— both mentally and physically— and we’re in it together. So, while you’re racing: be kind, and help motivate others to finish. It’ll help you just as much as it’ll help them.

11. Listen to your body

This is NOT the time to push yourself. The distance itself is pushing you enough. If you get a side-stitch or get sharp pains anywhere: Take a second to recover.

Do not push through that pain.

However, it is important to know what pain is normal— and what pain is not. Your knees are probably going to hurt around mile 10 or so, and your muscles are definitely going to be sore. That’s totally normal and usually okay to push through. But that’s about it.

If you feel nauseated, lightheaded, dizzy, or have any sharp and abnormal pains: Stop and recover. Learn the signs of dehydration, and make sure that you’re getting a swig of water at each station to prevent it.

12. Walk up hills

No exceptions. Walk up hills. Even in the beginning. I thought it’d be fine to run them in the beginning, but even if they’re easy: They add up.

And the sum of those hills is you crashing out with 3 miles to go.

Walk the hills. Again: Remember, you didn’t train. You have nothing to prove, other than that you can finish the race before the course gets swept.

13. Don’t Stop After The Finish Line (And Eat SLOWLY)

A banana has never looked so good. And oh! Look! Free juice! Pretzels! Yogurt! GIVE ME EVERYTHING. Smother me in it. I have never considered swimming in Gatorade before that moment, but at the finish line: That sounded like a dream.

Take all the food, but eat slowly. Drink water, and SLOWLY. If you eat too quickly, and too much, you’re going to feel nauseated and hurt even more than you do already (at the very least).

Also, as much as you might want to sit down: Don’t do it. Keep walking around for about 10-15 minutes at a relaxed pace. Here are some more tips on how to recover after your Half Marathon. I did nearly everything you’re NOT supposed to do afterward, and boy was I feeling it.

Learn from my mistakes.

13.1. Be Proud Of Your Accomplishment.

Even if you walked most of it: BE PROUD. Even just walking this is ridiculously hard on your body and your psyche. You’ve earned some bragging rights. Don’t undercut your accomplishments. This is an incredible feat, and you did it.

And now that you know you can finish it, train for your next one.

Cover Image Credit: Dave Meier

Popular Right Now

I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

18607
views

Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Please Know That Being Diagnosed With PCOS Is Not The Same As Living With It

I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2018, but it wasn't until months later that I realized what it’s actually like living with it everyday.

109
views

In October 2017, tired of counting calories and never seeing the scale move, I decided to try the latest fad diet: Keto.

It worked.

I lost almost 40 pounds in half the time it had taken to lose 20. I had lost nearly 10 inches from waist and hips. I went from a size 18 to a size 12.

Getting into ketosis was hard, but once I was there, I felt incredible: better mental clarity and focus, astronomical amounts of energy, regular body functions. Don't get me wrong, this diet is hard. No carbs, no colorful vegetables, no pasta. The struggle was real. But what it was doing for my body was worth it.

Except for one little thing: my periods had lost their minds. I'm talking bleeding for three weeks straight, no break. Coming and going in particular pattern, sometimes twice a month. Side note: this is not normal. In the world of Keto, it's supposed to help exponentially with fertility and hormone balances; people use this diet as a way to reverse hormone imbalances, PCOS, and infertility. This was virtually unheard of in all of my support groups.

Months and months go by with no relief. My doctor can't figure out why everything is so wonky. She takes me off the pill and things get better - slightly. Any improvement at this point was a victory.

She finally gets my ultrasounds back and she says "Well that's a surprise!" Cue my questioning look of confusion. "Umm care to share?" "Your ovaries have the characteristic look of PCOS. But you don't have any of the usual symptoms. I'm guessing the Keto diet was helping in it's own way. I recommend staying on the diet, let nature re-regulate your natural hormones, and we will re-evaluate in a few months."

I was frustrated, but this was totally do-able. I had been living this lifestyle for months, so I didn't foresee it as an issue. But then my kidneys starting reacting to the diet, and that doctor recommended I come off it. Obviously I wasn't going to jeopardize my health, so I started a low carb version of the Mediterranean diet.

I went in fully expecting to gain some weight back, because I was reintroducing carbs when I had gone largely without them for over a year. I knew that this would happen, and I didn't let myself get discouraged when the scale started going forward.

What I did not expect was to have my PCOS start running lose with my entire life and sanity.

Don't get me wrong — my periods were normal again, but everything else went AWOL. My hormones were going up and down of their own volition, we are talking sobbing hysterically over a butterfly commercial one minute and then fuming with anger over a car ad the next.

I started experiencing pelvic pain that feels like cramps only not all the time and without rhyme or reason.

My hair became uncontrollably oily to the point where I had to wash it everyday like clockwork; it started to thin and fall out.

I also started getting darker hair everywhere. I'm naturally an incredibly fair-skinned person so having black hair anywhere stands out like a sore thumb.

I felt like I wasn't in control of anything going on with my body. I felt like a hairy, unattractive monster. Everything that made me feel attractive and desirable was slowly being taken away from me piece by piece.

I had been living with PCOS for nearly six months, but I hadn't realized what it was like to actually live with it. I thought it was just irregular periods, but it is so much more than just a weird period.

I went back to the doctor, and she explained to me again how PCOS works, and how she didn't think traditional treatment options were the best thing for me. "Go back on the Keto diet. You were having incredible success with managing your symptoms. Go back to that."

Going back has not been easy. When I first started Keto, it wasn't easy, but I got into it quickly. I've been trying since January 12th to get back into it, and it hasn't worked.

I'm now in a place where I need to do it — for my health, for my sanity, for my self-esteem — and I physically can't. I do exactly everything the same as before, and it's not working. I'm trying to move away from the mentality of doing it for weight loss, and move toward positive thinking about how it's what's best for my body and my health.

My PCOS has forced me to have militant control over everything I eat. I can't simply enjoy food anymore. Everything that I chose to eat directly relates back to my PCOS and what that particular food can do for me. I think about everything that I put into my body, and the potential it has for either healing my body or harming it.

I see a piece of cake and I smell it, and picture in my mind what it tastes like. But I know that if I eat that piece of cake, I will bloat, get a stomach ache, and have to start back from square one the next day.

I cut out the carbs. I say no to cake. No potatoes. No pasta. I eat only green vegetables. I drink coffee that has nothing but heavy cream. I try to do intermittent fasting for 15 hours a day.

And I hope that it works. I hope that today will be the day I can get my life back on track. That today will be the day Keto works its magic.

I hope.

Related Content

Facebook Comments