13 Things I Learned Training for a Half Marathon


On Sunday I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done, including child birth.  I ran in my first half marathon, the Surf Town Half Marathon and 5K in Westerly, RI.  You can check out a full review of the race from our friends over on Runitlikeamom.

photo 2
photo credit C. Farrelley

I’ll be honest here for a minute.  I always thought the 13.1 stickers on peoples’ cars were kinda pretentious.  Like, why do you really need to show off like that?  I also naively thought it couldn’t be that hard.  I’m an idiot.  And you better bet your ass Honey marched over to the merch tent to get me a sticker as soon as I could walk normally.  It was an incredible experience and one I won’t soon forget.  The whole training process taught me a lot about myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. so in honor of my hard work, here is a Top Thirteen List (a la David Letterman) of things I learned.

13. Hydrate.  All things in life, including running far distances will go much better if you drink water.

12. Always be safe.  Shockingly, towards the end of my training someone close to me was involved in a horrible accident with a runner on the road.  Thankfully, everyone survived the ordeal without serious, life-threatening injuries but it was a traumatic experience and a reminder to always play it safe when you run.

  • Run against traffic.
  • Wear bright clothing.
  • If you wear headphones, make sure they are down low enough so that you can hear everything around you.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks as much as possible.
  • If you run in the dark wear a reflective vest and/or carry a flashlight or head lamp.
  • Always make sure someone knows you’re going running, your route, and how long you think you’ll be gone.
  • Consider a RoadID.  I don’t have one, but I’m hoping Santa will put one in my stocking.

11.  Try.  When I set out on this journey it was really just to challenge myself.  I never thought it would turn me into a runner or that it would end up being something I was motivated to do well on.  If you want to do something new, just get out there and try it.  If you don’t like it, no big deal.

10. Sports bras matter.  You know my issue with support for the girls, we’ve been down this road before.  I can’t tell you how many boobs I see flapping in the wind out on my runs.  Get those jugs under control ladies.  Find a supportive sports bra.  Seriously.

9. Run your own race.  This whole experience was about me and no one else.  I was resistant to train with other people because I needed to stay focused on myself.  Running is actually a great sport for introverts.  On race day, I said lots of things to keep me going but what I said most was “my race, my pace”.  It meant a lot of things but mostly it meant if someone passed me, or if I passed someone else it was okay.

photo 3
photo credit C. Fuss

8. Ask for help.  Early on I realized I needed support from people who’ve done this before so I started my own Facebook group of friends who were also training for runs this season.  I also sent regular texts to friends who were runners asking advice.  The support of those ladies was invaluable and I truly couldn’t have done it without them.

7. Know your limits.  Push yourself to do better, but never at the risk of hurting yourself.  I had a couple minor injuries and an illness throughout training and I always knew when to stop.

6. Trust your gut.  The one time I didn’t do this was the one time during training I had to abandon a run.  I had a firm rule to never run when the dew point was over 70.  I broke my rule the last weekend of training because I felt like I had to get the mileage in.  I ended up walking home after the first two miles.  Listen to your gut, it will never steer you wrong.

5. It’s good to be a “runner mommy”.  One day after a run while I was stretching Lovey said to me, “When I grow up I want to be a runner mommy just like you.”  This my friends, is what it’s all about.  Inspiring my girls to live healthy lifestyles means more to me than a medal around my neck.

4.  It’s not about the scale.  One of the reasons I needed to challenge myself with this race was because I was tired of being a slave to the scale.  As I’ve mentioned before I have a really disordered relationship with that thing.  I needed to prove to myself that being strong and healthy had nothing to do with a predetermined (and unrealistic) number.  By mid summer I didn’t care what my weight was at all, which is truly an accomplishment in itself.  I have lost weight, inches, and overall body fat through this process but it’s about so much more than that.  It’s about knowing that through strength and hard work my body can do whatever I set out to do.

3.  Be friendly.  Be part of the community.  Runners are a very friendly lot.  We always wave at each other, we support one another, and unlike any other sport I’ve been involved in there is no judgement.  Anyone who devotes as much time to something as runners do deserves recognition and encouragement, no matter how fast they run.  I am so grateful to have been encouraged by the so many people.  I feel like listing them all would be equivalent to an acceptance speech.  You all know who you are anyway and I really can’t thank you enough.

2. I depend on the love and support of my family.  I need to take a minute to thank Honey specifically.  When I told him I had this zany idea to run a half marathon he never waivered.  He gave up his own fitness goals this summer to focus on mine.  He arranged his summer schedule to accommodate my runs and handled more than one pancake Sunday with the girls solo while I was on long runs.  He never for a second doubted that I could do this, even when I did.  He was standing there with the girls (and my BFF) at the finish line with a smile that was probably bigger than mine.  Of all the people who’ve told me they are proud of my accomplishment, it’s his pride that means the most.

1. I can do hard things.  I’ve done a lot of hard things in my life.  Even so, I think most people always doubt their abilities.  Hopefully this race was final proof that I really can do anything I set my mind to.

photo 1
photo credit S. Fuss

17 comments on “13 Things I Learned Training for a Half Marathon”

  1. Congratulations! And yes! I really love the camaraderie of runners as well. And seeing another person out there – whether it be at a race or on a solo run – can really keep you going!

  2. I cannot tell you how impressed I am! I started running a couple of years ago and the most I’ve done is a 5K and even that is REALLY HARD! Good for you, you’re such an inspiration!

  3. Every long race you do will teach you something more about yourself. Enjoy the running journey. Congrats on completing your first half – Way to go!!

  4. Love everything about this! You should be proud of your accomplishments! You are an awesome Runner/Mom…I can’t wait to see where your running journey takes you next. Congrats!

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