Tips for Training for Your First Half Marathon

Just about anyone can run a half marathon (apart from those suffering with health complaints). The great part is you don’t need a mountain of fancy equipment, years of training under your belt or even a personal trainer! What you will need is yourself, descent shoes and plenty of motivation!

With that said, running a half marathon is still difficult and a great achievement to celebrate when you finish. Understand you may not have record-beating times on your first attempt, but crossing the finish line is incomparable to any other experience. Here are a few simple tips that should help get you started.

Invest in decent running shoes

Before you even consider a half marathon, go in search of some decent running shoes. This doesn’t mean buying the pair on sale at the mall, you will need to visit an expert shoe store that will fit the best shoes for your feet. You want the right amount of cushion without altering the natural form of your foot.

Next, invest in a quality pair of running orthotics. These will minimize any undue strain on your lower body, prevent injury and make for a more comfortable run. It’s best to go to a podiatrist and get custom orthotics heat moulded to your feet. Train in your shoes for a couple of weeks and if they still feel great invest in a second pair, that way you can rotate them throughout the training period – you don’t want to be breaking in new shoes during your first half marathon.

Fail to plan and you plan to fail

As mentioned above, completing your first half marathon can be quite a challenge. Couch to finish line should take around 16 weeks with consistent training, less if you are already running a fair bit. Don’t sell yourself short of time and use your 16 weeks wisely. Overtraining is just as bad, this only leads to exhaustion, poor recovery, loss of motivation and most importantly injury.

Find a good training plan that has you out running 4 days a week. There are a variety of plans available online, choose one that has cross-training as well as a little strength work involved. These are all important features that will help you get to the finish line.

Avoid over-committing, choose a plan that you are able to comfortably complete each week without being pushed for time and stick to it!

Keep a training journal

Keep a training journal and log everything, it’s a perfect motivational tool! Watch your speed and distance increase as you work through your training. The journal itself doesn’t need to be fancy, just a simple notebook will do or an online tracker.


Nutrition is the next most important aspect in marathon running. You need to be fueling your body correctly to make it through training as well as everyday life. Luckily it’s not as difficult as most make it out to be. A basic training nutritional plan consists of around 65% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 10% fat. Whole grain products, brown rice and fruit and vegetables are all great sources of carbohydrates.

As well as carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscles, you will need sufficient vitamins and minerals to function adequately and keep your body in top shape.

Hydration is the next vital key, you must keep your body hydrated at all times – ensure you have plenty of water after training.

Have fun!

Most importantly take the time to enjoy the entire process, congratulate your efforts, think positively and most of all – have fun!


I'm a health and fitness blogger from Christchurch, New Zealand, passionately into triathlon and sharing with my readers what I am learning about health, fitness, diet and peak performance along the way.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Training for Your First Half Marathon

  • September 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I am currently training for a half-marathon, my first one, and I also due dialysis three times a week. Keeping protein in my system is especially hard for me to do, since the dialysis really wreaks havoc on my system so often. Could you give me some suggestions on good protein supplements?

    • September 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

      Hi Tracy, you should talk to your nephrologist about whether or not it’s a good idea to take a protein supplement while on dialysis.


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