How To Survive Your First Half Marathon

by | Mar 6, 2023 | Run, Sports, Training, Training "How To's"

Running a half marathon for the first time isn’t easy. This is how to conquer race day at your first one of many!

Whether you’re attempting the Half Marathon or the Ultra for the first time, race day can be an intimidating prospect. With six weeks to go, we’ve built a basic survival list to help you conquer Totalsports Two Oceans race day in fine style.

If your preparation is going well, trust the process and don’t sweat a missed session here and there, then, do this on the day and you’re good to go:

Stick to your routine

Race day at your first half marathon can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event. However, it’s crucial to stick to your regular pre-race (or training session) routine to ensure that you’re mentally and physically prepared for the race.

This familiarity will go a long way to giving you a sense of comfort and control that can help calm your nerves. Eat the same breakfast you’ve been eating during training, wear the same shoes and clothes you’ve been using, and follow your pre-race routine as closely as possible.

Pace yourself

As mentioned in the previous point, it is very easy to get caught up in the hype and then going out too fast — in fact, it is perhaps the most common mistake for the first-time marathon runner.

Whether you’re running the Half or the Ultra, it’s essential to pace yourself from the beginning to avoid burning out too quickly. Start at the pace at which you trained and stick to it throughout the race. Remember that if you have some left in the tank you can always speed up in the later stages. 

Top Tips For How To Conquer Your First Half Marathon
Don’t let the start line fever get you. Keep a calm head and run your own race. PC: Two Oceans

Fuel properly 

Marathon runners need to fuel their bodies adequately to maintain energy levels throughout the race. Make sure you eat a balanced meal the night before the race and have a light breakfast on the day of the race.

During the race, consume carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain your energy levels. Experiment with different gels, bars, and drinks during your training to find what works best for you.

Race nutrition philosophies and strategies are highly varied and the science around it all can be conflicting, if you aren’t working with a professional we suggest finding ‘what works for you’ now and then sticking it through.

Break the distance down

Ultra trail runner, Ryan Sandes has often said that the best way to tackle a long distance is to break it down into smaller, manageable goals and then tick those off as you go along, rather than overthinking the magnitude of the full distance.

Drink early, drink often

This goes without saying, but is actually often overlooked (especially on a cooler Cape day). Staying hydrated during the race is crucial to maintaining your energy levels and avoiding cramps. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink, as that could mean you’re already dehydrated. Drink water or sports drinks at every aid station.

Top Tips For How To Conquer Your First Half Marathon
Get into your groove, keep sipping liquids, back your training, and listen to your body. Your first half marathon is going to be a blast! PC: Brenton Geach / Two Oceans

Stay in tune with your body 

During a marathon, your body will experience a lot of stress, and it’s essential to listen to it. If you feel pain or discomfort, slow down, and if necessary, stop and seek medical attention. Don’t push yourself too hard, and remember that finishing the race is the goal, not finishing in a certain time.

Enjoy the experience

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the experience and celebrate mini goals throughout! Totalsport Two Oceans is one of the most iconic and beautiful races in the world, make sure you take it all in. Take pride in your hard work and dedication. Enjoy the spectacular Cape peninsula scenery, the cheering crowds, and the camaraderie with your fellow runners!

Looking to add some extra oomph to your training? Check out our best gym exercises for running here.

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