10 tips for taking on your first half marathon

Get on the right foot as you cross the start line

Virgin Money Giving

by Virgin Money Giving | Experts in fundraising and taking on crazy challenges for a good cause

Helping people of all ages to strengthen their relationships


It may only be half the full monty, but running 13.1 miles is no piece of cake. Here are our top tips to make tackling your first run that little bit less challenging…

Pick the right race

If you’re going to spend two or three hours running, you might as well enjoy the view. Your run will feel much easier if you spend your time taking in a beautiful vista rather than a rundown area.

Invest in the right outfit

Those people who run marathons dressed as giant furry chickens must be superhuman. It’s hard enough running long distances without being weighed down by massive cardboard wings. Take the time to find running kit you’re comfortable in. Make sure you research your running shoes, including getting some gait analysis to check the right kind for your feet.

Train properly

Not doing any training because “I play a bit of sport at the weekends and I’ll probably be OK” might be a strategy that gets you through a 5k, but this is a big step up. A half-marathon will be a painful experience if you don’t put in the hours beforehand. Stick to a pre-race training schedule and not only will you be pleasantly surprised by your time, you won’t spend the whole race worrying about shin splints.

Cut out the booze

There is nothing worse than running a race dehydrated, hungover or both, so avoid any pre-celebratory drinks the night before. And at the risk of sounding a bit like your mum, it’s worth getting an early night in too.

Eat the right foods

Who ate all the pies? Definitely not you, because you understand that nutrition is key to having a good race. Make sure you prepare your body throughout training and on race day. This will help prevent fatigue and keep you going to the finish line. You can find more information on the Runner’s World website.

Take your fan club

It gives you a big psychological boost seeing your friends and family along the route, so you might want to place them strategically – your dad at the 12.5 mile mark, your granny near the top of the hill. You’ll really enjoy the boost of seeing them and they can meet you at the end to celebrate your achievement once you’ve collected your medal.

Run with friends

A great way to boost your motivation and make the race a more social event is to bring some friends along for the ride. Not only does the company of running pals make taking part more enjoyable, they will also keep you going through the training.

Turn up early

Some races can have well in excess of 15,000 participants, all trying to get to the start line at the same time. Avoid a stressful pre-race race by turning up early. You can soak up the atmosphere and join the queue for the toilets before they get too smelly.

Do it for a good cause

Nothing helps boost your motivation during training more than knowing Aunt Violet has sponsored you £50 and she believes in you. Raising money for charity and getting sponsorship makes your run even more meaningful.

Make time to celebrate your success

We’ve urged you to cut out the booze and eat the right foods. Well, you’ve crossed the finish line now, and you’ve earned a special treat. Wear your medal with pride, take in the atmosphere of the finish area, and track down the kind of delicious food and drink you’ve been deprived of in the run-up to the run.

Whichever race you decide to take on, we wish you the best of luck with your first half marathon experience.

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