Post Half-Marathon Reflections

My official race photo.   I think it was around mile 11 or 12.  I really was pretty much by myself for the last three miles of the race.  Thumbs up yo.

After about a week and a half, I am feeling back to my normal self after the half-marathon.  I ran five miles last night with my running buddy and the miles flew by.  Thank goodness.  In reading a lot of running blogs I think I underestimated the impact the half-marathon would have on my body, as a lot of girls make it seem like just another day (heck, it probably is for them).  For me, it was a straight up endurance EVENT that tested my limits and required a week of solid rest.   It just goes to show that you CANNOT compare yourself to other runners.  Say you are just starting out and ran a mile without stopping.  If your body is not used to running, it is going to take a LOT out of you.  When I ran my first 5k last year, I was SPENT.  My legs hurt and I was relegated to the couch afterwards.  Now that I’ve increased my endurance the miles don’t have the same effect, but that is because my body is more conditioned.  Don’t go out there expecting to rock out five miles and feel guilty if you can’t if you are just getting started.  Challenge your body and your endurance. 

I must admit, I was a bit surprised by how tired and sore I was after the half.  I have been reading quite a few blogs with girls training for marathons and they talk about their 15/18/20 mile run as just another training run.  Well let me tell you, 13.1 miles was HARD and punishing.  Amazing, but still punishing.  Perhaps I’ll reach that point where they become just another race, but for now, I am happy with where I am at.   I guess this was my long-winded way of saying that you cannot compare yourself to ANYONE else.  😀

Thoughts on My Training Plan

I created my training plan following Hal Hidgon’s Novice Half-Marathon training plan.   His training plan calls for twelve weeks; I basically started from week four since I was coming off of the Boilermaker 15k and had a decent base to start with.  I started training on July 26 and trained for eight weeks.  I ran three times a week, with a long run on the weekends and “short”/medium runs during the week.  My form of cross-training was hot yoga and I loved it.  It is the perfect complement to a running routine in my opinion!

Mileage wise, I ran 176.75 miles over the eight weeks, including the half-marathon.  My highest mileage month was September at 82.2 miles, and my highest mileage week was 21.05 in mid-September.  My longest training run was 11 miles, and I also ran two ten milers.  Did I feel prepared come race day?  Absolutely!  Would I follow this training plan again?  Heck yes!  I felt like I was training for something but was still able to maintain some semblance of a social life, which I’ll get into shortly.

Essentially, good ol’ Hal’s plan worked perfectly for me.  I missed a few short runs here and there (it happens!) and I still felt confident on race day. 

Fuelage/Weight During Half-Marathon Training

During half training, my mileage picked up significantly which, in turn, led to increased hunger (duh).  When you are training for an endurance event, you need to fuel your body to function (I’m looking at you, Melissa! 😉 )  Towards the end of training, I wanted carbs, carbs and more carbs.  Moreso than usual, since I always want carbs.  😀  I weighed myself once towards the end of training and I think I gained 2-3 pounds.  My clothes still fit the same and I lost an inch on my stomach so I’m thinking it was just water weight.  Which brings me to my next point.  Hydrating is essential during training.   At the height of training I was drinking at least 100 ounces of water a day, and even more on my hot yoga days.  I have a hard time imagining someone that doesn’t drink a lot of water- I would seriously shrivel up from thirst!

Fueling during runs– For any run over seven miles, I would fuel with a gu packet.  My fuel of choice is without a doubt chocolate mint gu.  Yum.  I used to fuel with clif shot blocks but after receiving a free gu sample I never went back.  The shot blocks were wicked chewy and kind of awkward.  The only caveat with using gu is that you should probably take it with water to wash it down.  Very necessary.  During my 10 and 11 milers I fueled with a pack and a half to two packs of gu, and I felt great.  I know some may have stomach issues with gu, so make sure to test it out!  I love it!

Time Commitment/Having a Life During Training

Although training for a half requires a bit of dedication and time, it is still definitely possible to maintain a balanced life.  I traveled to Long Island for a reunion with my college besties, went to a week-long conference in Lake Placid, traveled to Buffalo for a wedding and was IN a wedding (and had too good of a damn good time) and still fit everything in.  Granted, I had to make a few adjustments here and there but my life was NOT all running.  I’m not sure I could say the same if I were training for a full, though 😉


When training for a half-marathon, you will become reacquainted with nature.  I saw one fox (awesome!  but creepy), numerous bunnies and chippies chipmunks, ingested two gnats (barf) and fished two gnats from my eye that were behind my contact (sneaky little suckers!).


I was fairly lucky during this training cycle.  My biggest issue was pain on the top of my foot (I think tendonitis from overuse) and random blisters here and there.  Plus the loss of one toenail (with another one currently purple and on its way out).  Hot yoga and an intense love affair with the foam roller kept my IT Band and knees very happy.  Overall, I would deem this training cycle injury-free 🙂

Weeks Leading Up to the Race

In the two weeks before the race, I decided to forgo alcohol and heels.  Of course, that all went out the door a week before the race when I attended a very fun wedding.  I had about 3-4 glasses of wine so it wasn’t too crazy but I still felt guilty.  It ended up working out fine.  I need to be easier on myself!  I am glad that I stuck to the no heels rule and will be implementing that rule before my next big race as well. 

So, those are my thoughts on training for my first half-marathon.  Have you trained for a distance event?  Do you have anything to add?  I’m excited to take a small(ish) break from distance running.  A break will rejuvenate me- I’m already excited to start training for my next half in the spring! 

Have a good one folks!



Filed under Goals, Half Marathon, Running

19 responses to “Post Half-Marathon Reflections

  1. Great post! Happy to hear you had a great training cycle.

  2. I love your recap! I think it nails it for the half distance! I will echo on staying hydrated, and listening to your body when you recover like you did. I know some people who ran two days after our marathon! I waited four. And some people are waiting longer! Everyone is different 🙂

  3. That is a GREAT race photo!

    I trained for my first half on the same training plan, and I will definitely be basing my next plan off of that one. No heels and alcohol, seems like a very wise rule! Wish I had the willpower to stick to that haha

    Congrats on your great finish 🙂

  4. lowandbhold

    I was so sore after my half! And it took me at least two weeks before I could run pain-free again. It is definitely an endurance event!

    I actually drank two glasses of wine the night before my race, oops 😉 I think the carbs helped?

    I wish I had signed up for another half instead of a full, they are really a great, challenging distance without being TOO hard. Next time I’m going to stick to 13.1.

    Great recap!

  5. J

    I am so jealous! You look absolutely fabulous in your race photo!! I know that a half marathon takes a lot of me too and before 10k and 15k races used to beat me up! It just goes to show that you can get your body used to running the longer distances and it will adapt!

  6. Oh I loved this recap of your whole training! 🙂 And your race photo is so perfect! So happy! Love it!
    I think it’s very important to listen to your body while training. I had a training plan that called for runs 5 days a week, 4 of them being in a row. This was absolutly impossible for me. I get shin splints running more than two days consecutive. I learned fast I needed a new plan of attack. So I suggest everyone take their training plan and tweaking it to what works for them.
    You had great tips and a great recap. You should be so proud of yourself for your accomplishments! Now bring on the vino!

  7. I think to many people short change the 1/2. it’s a very respectable distance!!

    I agree you can’t compare yourself to others, you can only compete with yourself.

    My goal has continually been just to really enjoy the whole process and figure out how to go farther or faster.

  8. I loved this recap! It’s so unique and I loved how you touched on all aspects of training. You are SOO right when you say reading blogs changes how you view mileage and training. This is a big problem for me, I’ve read about people running marathons so much that I start to think that running 26 miles is not a big deal – so wrong!
    To avoid this I’ve tried to avoid the “marathons are easy” blogs and stick to runners that seem to be more at my level (like you!).
    I think this post came at a great time for me, because I’m thinking about running a half marathon in a couple of weeks, but I’m not completely prepared for it. This has reminded me how hard a half marathon truly is!

  9. Thank you for this. Such a great recap for beginners.

  10. I am the same way with Gu. I take it if I’m running more that 7 miles. I’ve tried other chewy things but I tend to choke on them!

    I usually try to refrain from alcohol a couple days before a race.

  11. Take a tip from me everyone! Even if you have been running for YEARS but took some time off and are now getting back into it…5 miles is NOT a good place to start. Just sayin…

    Katie, I think what is so difficult about recovering from races is not the mileage but the all out effort that is associated with racing. I bet if you had run a 13 mile training run, you wouldn’t take as long to recover. That has been my experience at least.

  12. I agree, half marathons are tough. I’m training for my second and it kind of feels easier this time around, but I did 10 miles the other day and I still FELT the impact, big time. Mentally it’s a lot easier the second time around though because I know I’ve done it once before and can do it again.
    The time commitment issue is weighing heavily on me right now while I try to decide if I want to/could train for a full after this next half marathon. I agree- training for a half is challenging, but you can have a life. I worry if I train for a full it will be a HUGE time commitment and I won’t have time to do much else.

  13. Love all this advice – so great! And yes, don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so hard, but we are all different. When I was trying to qualify for Boston, I was reading all these other bloggers’ 60+ mile a week training plans and it made me question if my mileage would be enough. Trust yourself. P.S. – you look fabulous in your official race photo! What a gorgeous day too.

  14. This is a fantastic post! I will be running my third half-marathon on Saturday, and my second full marathon next month. I wish that 16/18/20 mile long runs didn’t take so much out of me, but they definitely do. I have learned not to compare myself to other runners. I am a lot slower than many others, and that used to bother me a lot. Now, though, I try to focus on the fact that everyone is different, and that maybe at some point I’ll get a bit faster.

  15. I love the photo to you! You did great. So glad you are feeling back to normal.

  16. Nicki

    Fantastic photo! It took me many months to get a race photo I liked, hence the reason the Boilermaker photo is still up on Twitter. LOL!

    Your training recap is fantastic! That is the plan I used for my first half which was in March. I have run three now and the only thing I would say is to plan some space between them. My first and second halfs were three weeks apart. While I shaved time off on the second one – mostly due to improved weather in my mind – I think I should have rested more after the first. There is no way to anticipate how much a race like is going to take out of you.

    I can’t wait to see what you run next.

  17. Julie

    Wow, what a great picture of you running Katie!! It does take sometime to recover from running the longer distance races. My butt is still dragging after my full….I have heard that it takes between 4 to 8 weeks to get the mojo back. I am sort of feeling like you…a rest might be kind of nice:)

    Take care and have a wonderful week Katie!

  18. What a great reflective post. I so agree that its easy to feel like a wimp when comparing myself to other runners. My first 1/2 marathon kicked my butt, I was sore and tired for days. Sounds like you had a great race – Good Job!!

  19. fun post, i loved it. i’m starting marathon training soon and i’ve never even trained for a half so i am loving reading the experience of experts such as yourself 🙂 it helps so much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s