First Day of Half Marathon Training + Concerns

by Jillian on July 2, 2012 · 19 comments

I hope you all had a great weekend! I definitely did. Aside from working and a lot of studying, I was able to get together with a friend for dinner, grab drinks with co-workers, and spend some quality time with Joe.

But now it’s Monday and we’re all back on our routine, right? It’s a big day for me!


Today was the first run of my 12 week half marathon training program. I was scheduled to run 3 miles this morning, but when I noticed that the heat wave is still in full force, I decided I needed to contrive an alternative plan. Here’s what happened:

  • ran .5 miles to the gym
  • ran  2 miles on the treadmill
  • ran .5 miles home

It was a pretty good idea in that it made the time pass quickly, I got some outdoor running in while avoiding the heat for 2/3 of my run, and I wasn’t distracted by time. For most of the runs, Hal Higdon suggests to run at a manageable pace. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I am following Hal Higdons novice 1 half marathon training program, but I changed the days up a bit based on my schedule. I thought about doing novice 2 (novice 2 contains pacing runs/speed work, where novice 1 does not) because it says novice 1 is for people who haven’t run before, but since I’ve never completed a half marathon, I’d rather train safely and not try to push myself past my limits.

Anyway, this brings me to my topic today. I wanted to discuss some of my concerns with training for my first half marathon.

  • I will want to run more.


Just 3 days ago, I ran 5 miles and now I am beginning the first week of training where my longest run is only 4 miles. I feel like I might want to just keep running on certain training days, but I don’t want to tire myself out. Sure, I can run longer distances, but I am definitely not accustomed to running 4 days a week. I decided that I am going to stick to the plan for the most part, except for longer runs closer to the half marathon. The longest run before the actual race is 10 miles, so I may try to increase the last few long runs to closer to 11 or 12 miles to acclimate myself to the longer distance.

  • Vacations


I am going to Oregon next week, which doesn’t really worry me as much as Mexico in August or my friend’s bachelorette party which lasts all Labor day weekend. I want to enjoy myself, have fun, eat, and drink, but I also want to make sure I am fueling my body properly. Therefore, I am just going to have to pick and choose my cheat meals and focus on balancing. As far as training, I am lucky that Oregon and Mexico travel happens on Sundays and Thursdays, which are my rest days, and there are gyms in the hotels. For Labor day weekend, well, let’s hope I can find a route outside and not get lost!

  • Hydration – I’m pretty sure I’m just going to have to suck it up and buy a water belt. There’s no way I’m going to be running 10 miles outside in August without water. I am aiming to do most of my runs outside instead of on the treadmill, unless I am in a really sticky situation, like when I am in Mexico. I’m not taking any chances running around those unknown parts!


  • Bathrooms – Okay, so this was never an issue for me. The longest I’ve run outside was 6 miles and luckily I didn’t have to pee. I think there’s a bathroom in the park nearby my house, but I don’t know when or how long it’s open, or if I am even supposed to use it? Anyway, I guess I’ll have to map a route that makes a pit stop at the house for longer runs.


  • Strength Training – This is extremely important to me. Right now, I lift 3 days a week. I don’t want to lose muscle being that my weekly mileage is going to increase, so I need to find a way to fit strength training in without overdoing it. I’ve devised a plan to include lifting on my cross training days, which are Tuesday (optional run day) and Friday, but I need one more day. I still haven’t decided what I am going to do about that, mainly because I don’t want my legs to be so sore from squats that I can’t run! Hmmph.


  • Heat 


Again, this causes an issue when it comes to running outside. As I mentioned, I am going to try my best to run outside as much as possible, but if it’s really too hot, I’ll play it safe and go to the gym. Also, I am going to try to wake up earlier to beat the heat!

  • Stretching and Foam Rolling – I am seriously nervous that I am not going to do this enough and that I am going to get injured. Well, not necessarily injured, but that my hip pain will return. I explain in my “about me” section how I had surgery on both of my hips for labreal tears caused by hip dysplasia. I plan on buying a foam roller instead of relying on the one at the gym.


  • Diet


I have a tendency to overdo it on my smoothie bowls and peanut butter, cool whip, sprinkle spoons. I want to make sure that I am A.) getting enough nutrients when I increase my weekly mileage, and B.) not over eating because “I just ran 10 miles, I’m eating this piece of cake”. You know what I mean. I also need to be careful when I am on vacation, but one thing is for sure, I will enjoy what I want in moderation!

  • Running Shoes


I just bought a pair of Brooks PureCadence. I feel like I’ll probably need a new pair of running sneakers before I actually run the half, but I’m worried about when I should buy them. I don’t want to run the race in brand new pair of shoes, I want to be able to break them in. However, even breaking new shoes in during training scares me a little bit.

That’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll be worrying about more things as I get into the training, because that’s just me.


For now, I’m staying positive, focusing on getting my runs in, and enjoying the ride!


After this morning’s run, I made a delicious egg, hummus, and paprika sandwich with half a frozen banana. Yeah, that’s all I had, which is why I made a trip to the grocery store shortly after.



Egg & hummus with paprika is definitely a current favorite combo of mine.


I had a few snacks while studying and eventually made dinner with my grocery store haul.


I baked a sweet potato using the this method. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place foil down on a baking sheet. Scrub the sweet potato, poke holes in it with a fork, and brush it with olive oil. Place it on the foil (don’t wrap it in the foil, and let it bake for 55 minutes. It came out the perfect texture! I never noticed that wrapping it in foil is what makes it soggy. It traps the moisture in.


I invited black beans, kale, plain 0% Chobani, and avocado to the topping party. Get. In. My. Belly!

Okay back to studying, studying, and snacking. Yep.

  • Any tips for my half marathon training concerns?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erica Sara July 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Tip #1: stop worrying! ;) Seriously, you will figure it out. Listen to you body and adjust the plan as necessary. When I started training for longer distances, I noticed halfway thru my program that I performed my better on each run when I didn’t run on consecutive days so I modified and saw major improvement. See where your program takes you & then modify as you see fit.
Also, runners train on vacations all the time & it’s a lot of fun. If I’m training and staying at a hotel, I’ll ask the front desk for suggested running routes or maps- they almost always have ideas.
And of course, feel free to ask us fellow runner friends for advice! Good luck :) Excited to follow your training!


2 Jillian July 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thanks for all the tips, Erica – it means a lot coming from someone with experience. I’m sure I’ll have questions closer to the race and I know who I’ll be contacting! :)


3 Keisha @ healthy fit black chick July 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Hey girl! I’ve been stalking your blog for a while and just wanted to say hi. I don’t have any half marathon tips, since I’ve never run one before but good luck with your training!


4 Jillian July 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Hey Keisha! Thanks so much for stopping by!!


5 Katie Cummings July 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I ran my first half marathon 2 weeks ago and I used the same training plan as you did! I really liked it and think it will go well for you. I also increased the mileage on a few long runs in the middle of the training plan. Unfortunately I never did longer than 10 miles, but it all worked out! I would definitely find some good routes with bathroom and water possibilities. I haven’t bought a belt or camelbak yet, so I’m interested to see what you end up doing. On my 6-8 mile runs I carried a Coconut water and was just fine with that. On my 10 mile long run I actually stopped and bought a water bottle and had a bathroom break at a gas station. I would also recommend, not sure where your race is, but get as many training runs on the second half of the course as possible. That way when you start to get tired, you’re on a familiar path!


6 Jillian July 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Congrats on running your first half! I bet it felt awesome. Thats a good point about running the actual course! Luckily, I am local so I am able to do that. Thanks!! :)


7 Irina @ Chocolatea Time July 2, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Definitely get a water belt- mine (Fuel Belt) saved me during my long runs in the heat. It may take some time (a few initial miles) to get used to it, but you won’t regret it. Also, a foam roller is a miracle-worker. As a newbie who is also training for her first half, the foam roller has quickly become my best friend. Good luck!!


8 Jillian July 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for the tip, Irina! I’ll be getting myself a Fuel Belt immediately!


9 Lisa July 3, 2012 at 12:08 am

I’ve never ran a half marathon, so don’t have any tips. But, I’m sure you’ll figure it out! That training plan sounds good from what I’ve heard from others. That egg and hummus sandwich looks pretty darn delicious.


10 Chels R. July 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

Stick to the plan. You are a strong runner already and will only get STRONGER if you do just that. Don’t let other’s plans or ideas derail you from what you are doing right now. Stay consistent and you are going to have a great race!


11 Jillian July 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Thanks so much Chels! That means a lot coming from a strong runner like you! :)


12 Lena @Fit on the Rocks July 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm

You’ll do great! I started training for my first one with absolutely 0 miles run in years, so you’ve got a great head start. If you’re a bit concerned with the low mileage, I personally prefer using SmartCoach on Runners World because it takes into account your past race times (for any distance), your current mileage, and how hard you want to train. Then it spits out a plan for you. I hear you on the heat because I just started my half marathon training plan this week, too. With temps in the 90s-100s…it’s been killer. Good luck!


13 Jillian July 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Lena, thank you so much for the tip to use Smart Coach! That sounds like a great idea!


14 Melissa July 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I hardly ever run on consecutive days. My legs are much happier when I have a day of rest or cross/strength training between runs. Although there are people who can run 4-5 days a week and be fine. It’s all up to the specific person, so listen to your body & adjust as needed.

As for the LR mileage, as long as you keep the total weekly mileage at a 10-12% increase from week to week, you should be fine. I’d definitely recommend getting in an 11 or 12 miler three weeks out. It’ll give you a little extra mental boost come race day :) Looking forward to following your training!


15 Jillian July 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for the tips Melissa! Someone else mentioned the rest day in between runs. I am going to see how I feel and change things up if need be!


16 ann marie July 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Congrats Jillian!! I met you at the pt exam prep in Bayonne last year and am still working(ish) on taking the exam. Any advice?


17 Jillian July 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Ann Marie!! How are you? Thank you so much! Honestly, I kept putting it off because I was so nervous, but my tip would just be to pick a date and schedule the test. That way, you put a time limit on yourself. I studied more the last 2 days than I had studied probably in an entire month. Just review a ton a few days before. Go through the main book again and all of the study materials from the 3 day class and you will be fine! The exam was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I think I could have taken it earlier. I psyched myself out! lol!


18 Kate July 13, 2012 at 10:20 am

Hi Jillian! I’m so happy to see that you are training for a half right now because I just started training for my first one as well! Which one are you running? I’m doing the Rock n Roll Half in Philadelphia. Ironically enough I have the SAME concerns as you! I already bought a foam roller and will probably be investing in a water belt once I start my long runs. Good luck on your training. I’m excited to follow along with you! :)


19 Jillian July 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Best of luck!!! It’s scary and exciting all at the same time!


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