Thinking about signing up for a half marathon?

Here are some of the lessons that I learned while training:

1. Running is HARD

Obviously running 13.1 miles isn't a walk in the park, but your mindset determines your run. If you start off saying that I can't do this 3 mile course today, you're probably right. You have to hype yourself up. I would write myself little sticky notes saying "You are going to rock this morning's run!" as silly as it may sound, it worked. I had to give my body a lot of time to adjust to this new hobby. Running is very different from any of the cardio I had done previously. My ego definitely took a hit the first time I ran a mile and I felt like my lungs were going to implode. It is okay to start off slow, it is even encouraged to prevent injury. Also do not overextend yourself. If you need a break, take the break. Your body is trying to tell you something, and you need to listen. It does not make you any less of a runner to take a break.

2. Environment

Nothing feels as good as a good run, and when you make a new PR, or finally run "x" amount of miles. For me, running is a lot more enjoyable outside where you can get fresh air, and it is just you, the trail, and maybe some music. Having a great playlist also helps keep up a positive attitude, especially on long runs! I like to do a lot of middle school throwbacks, because even though that feels like ages ago, they still get me hyped for a long run. A lot of people get more anxious when they are inside all day, and by going outside, I felt more at ease. When I first started, I was very self conscious that someone would see me and judge me for having to walk for a bit. (Few people actually do that, and if they do, they aren't worth the stress)

3. Endorphins

Endorphins are awesome, because they basically reward you for healthy living. Endorphins make you happy, and we could all be a little happier in the gloomy winter months! Plus, there's also an app called "Charity Miles" that donates money to the organization of your choice for the amount of miles that you run/walk. All you have to do is have the app open in the background, and it keeps track of your distance, and time. When you are finished with your run, it tells you how much money has been donated to the charity you picked. How cool! Do good, feel good!

4. Keeping a Journal is Crucial

I am so glad that I decided to keep a journal of every day that I trained. I can see how my word choice changed. I started off less than enthused about my run, and that I had to do it just so I can get it over with and so that I don't make a fool of myself at the half. Towards the last half of my journal, I was excited about my run, because I could forget about the day's events for awhile, or think about my schedule, and plan out the next day/week. I had to be good at time management at this point to get in long runs. This skill helped me so I rarely procrastinated anymore, so I didn't feel nearly as rushed as I had previously felt. I also got to see how far my body had come. I went from a 12 minute mile to being able to run 3 miles in 26 minutes. Then I just kept getting better. It was incredible to see how far my body could go. It showed me that my body is capable of so much more than I thought!

5. The Night Before

Make sure to have everything set out and ready because you will not want to be rushed in the morning, and get up any earlier than you have to. Checklist: water bottle, storage belt/fanny pack, hat, gloves, easy to take off sweatshirt, pants/shorts, appropriate socks, band aids, charged phone, headphones, vaseline to prevent chaffing, shoes, and snacks. Make sure that the shoes you plan on using are worn in, and that they are comfy! Having the right shoes is hands down the most important item!

6. Race Day!

Every single person in the race has a different pace, training regime, background, and goals. DO NOT compete with anyone besides yourself. You worked so hard for this, and even if you don't finish you are better off than you were before. You had the courage to at least try it! You trained hard for months to get to this day. Enjoy it! Have fun! There are awesome people along the way cheering you on, on the sidewalks, cheer stations, water stations, and even fellow runners/walkers!

Running a half marathon in my eyes is still one of my biggest accomplishments. Luckily I have my second half in just a few short months! I hope this helps anyone planning on running a half, or thinking about it. It is worth every blister, ache, and minute running.