15 things to remember before a half marathon

collage of girl holding race day number

My half marathon is only a few days away and it’s safe to say I’m scared. As some of my friends have run a half previously, I thought I could reach out to them and gain comfort from their experience.

Here’s some of the things people said:

“I  started crying in the second half because I was in so much pain.”

“Why would you do that to yourself?”

“DON’T DO IT!”

“My friend was sick halfway round the course”

“You’re mental. Why would you ever want to do that?!”

And so on…

THANKS GUYS!

Obviously this doesn’t fill me with glee, but I can’t back out of it now. I would rather hobble around in pain for 4 hours than tell people I didn’t do run because I was afraid.

To make myself feel more prepared, and to potentially help anyone reading who may be running a half, I have put together a checklist of half marathon essentials that you need to sort before the day.

1. Test your race day outfit

Race day is not the time to try a brand new outfit, you might not know how a fabric feels when you’re running for such a long time and for goodness sake don’t buy brand new trainers and save them for the day. Decide what you’re wearing and do a dress rehearsal so you know that what you’ve chosen won’t be chaffing your thighs to bits by mile 8.

2. Prepare the kit you plan on wearing

I have a habit of planning stuff out in my head, then forgetting to do the most important steps. For example I might know what I’m going to wear on race day, but then I’ll forget to take it out of the laundry so I can’t wear it. Don’t do that, prepare your kit well in advance. Perhaps lay it out and make a mini shrine to it a few days before so the running gods will be in your favour. Prepare a few options too to suit the crazy weather England is having at the moment (unless you don’t live in England, in which case don’t look at England’s weather)

3. Organise your music

Everyone knows that music makes you run faster, or at least takes your mind off how much you hate running. I usually listen to spotify on my phone, but apparently there are so many people at these big races that you might have problems accessing the internet or your data.

Even though I listen to offline playlists I don’t want to take that risk so I have borrowed my sister’s Ipod. I need to remember to download a really good playlist, or I will be forced to listen to G-UNIT, Girls Aloud and the Buffy soundtrack* for three hours. MAKE SURE IT’S CHARGED TOO. If you need to buy an armband thingy, buy an armband thingy!

notepad on table and race day number

4. Stay hydrated

 Make sure you start drinking loads of water a few days before the race to keep your muscles hydrated. Think of yourself as a marathon running camel that likes to store as much water as possible before the race or you’ll get sore muscles and have less energy.  Take your camel duties to the next level by avoiding alcohol in the week before just in case.

5. Stock up on vaseline

Apparently rubbing vaseline all over areas that may chafe will stop you chafing! For me that’s thighs and nipples, and for the men I suppose it’s the same with a bit of groin thrown in. I’ve read that rubbing vaseline on your feets also helps to prevent blisters but I haven’t tried that myself yet. On that note, BRING PLASTERS and bandages if you need them!

6. Arrange a meeting point

It’s always sensible to arrange a meeting point for when you’ve finished the race, you aren’t going to feel like wandering around looking for your mates after you’ve run 13 miles, plus you probably won’t have your phone or any signal. Make sure you know the route well and try and organise a meeting point in advance.

7. Race number

Have you received your race number yet? Make sure you have it and know where the timing chip is. If you do have it, then relax, you can now pose with it like it’s a mug shot and make a fun collage like I did. 

8. Take Ibuprofen/other medicines

I mentioned in my last post that I have shin splints which means I will probably be in a lot of pain while I run. I’m definitely going to take some strong ibuprofen about half an before I start to ease the pain. If it works for a bikini wax it can work for a race! Also if you have hayfever, asthma or anything like that don’t forget your meds!

9. Stick with an old favourite (breakfast)

I bang on about protein porridge a lot on this blog and in life (I’m very interesting) because I know it fills me up, gives me energy and doesn’t give me any tummy problems. You certainly don’t want to be in a situation where something hasn’t gone down well and you spend half the race with cramps or worse.

This also goes for race nutrition, don’t try a new energy gel while you’re running because it might not sit well with you. Pick something you know works for you and have it at around mile 4 when you still like running.

10. Question everything

I originally named this the Spanish Inquisition but then I researched into it and actually decided torture and religious persecution aren’t very appropriate for my blog….

Do you want to take a pre-workout? Have you taken it before? Does it make you feel amazing for an hour and then diminish your energy levels? How much water will you need to drink at the water spots? Should you take energy fuel? Will you need the loo? Do your headphones fall out when you run? Ask yourself all these questions so you don’t have any nasty surprises!

11. Bring an outfit to get changed into

Race day is one of the only acceptable days that you can wear joggers in public, so I would definitely recommend getting some really comfy ones to change into for afterwards. Your feet will probably be quite swollen and sore so avoid tight shoes, definitely stay away from heels, and possibly opt for flip flops if it isn’t too cold to give your toes freedom to breathe!

12. Pose for pictures

In the past I haven’t taken many photos at races and events and it’s something I regret.  It seems silly to pose at the time but you shouldn’t feel shy, it’s nice to have pictures of your achievements to look back on. Smile when you run past a camera, take a before and after picture and a selfie of you and your medal. So what if people look at you? You’ve worked hard for this! You’ll probably never see them ever again so it doesn’t matter if they judge you (which they probably won’t). 

13. Decide what your post-half meal will be!

Choose your favourite restaurant and have a huge carb blow out! If you’re anything like me, thinking about the food you can eat after will motivate you while you’re running.

14. Read other people’s blogs!

Other people’s experiences always make me feel a lot less anxious. There are loads of great blogs from people who have run half’s, or full marathons before to get some inspiration.

Here are some of my faves:

Keep it SimpELLE
Red Wine Runner (she has a few)
Warrior Women (she’s run the Great North Run 4 times which is a half)
I’m sure Emilie from Eat Live Breathe has a post on the Great North Run (because she did it) but I can’t seem to find it. Her blog always inspires me anyway so it’s worth a read!

15. Enjoy it!!

Try not to worry about your time, or how much your feet hurt, or anything else. This is your race day and it’s an amazing achievement however you do. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy running with the crowd!

Finally just wanted to say Good luck to everyone who’s running the Leeds Half Marathon this weekend!!!!

*I may actually put the Buffy theme song on my playlist because it’s amazing. If Buffy can slay vamps to it then I can definitely run!

Hannah