The first half marathon I trained for wasn’t really my
choice – I mean no one was holding a gun to my head or bribing me with paying
off my student loans to do it, but it was either have the gym I work for pay
for my entrance fee or volunteer to work the event. I knew that even as slow as
I was gonna be – I’d be spending less time if I did the half marathon than if I
volunteered, plus I wouldn’t have to work that Saturday. When you work everyday
of the week, even running 13.1 miles sounds better than working.
When I started training, I wasn’t much of a runner. I had
done a couple of 5k races and couldn’t run for a straight mile. Over the 7
months I trained, I did a lot of research on running long distance. Because if
you had told 14-year-old me that I’d be running 13.1 miles in 9 years, I’d have
laughed in your face as I was currently running the 800 for my middle school
track team (and I was only running exhibition). Below are the things that I
found were most helpful to me during training. And they’re the only way I was
able to train for a second (and third) half marathon while working more than
ever and while at my heaviest scale weight.
Please know that all of these are things that I now use
regularly. Not all of these links are affiliate at this time and I hope this
shows you that I only share and link to products I love and truly believe in. Some
of the below links are affiliate links which means I make a small amount of
money when you purchase, at no extra cost to you.
- GOOD RUNNING SHOES - Brooks GTS 16 & 17 – I cannot begin to stress the importance of good running shoes. Your feet do so much for you throughout a normal day and they take a real beating during running. I personally have an issue with over pronation, meaning my arches collapse when I stand naturally. This can lead to overuse of certain muscles while running resulting in injuries. I have always had a problem with shin splints. I took this quiz on Brooks’ website (this brand was suggested by a friend of mine) and they suggested the GTS. One run and I never looked for another running shoe. Outside of the time I skipped 3 training runs and then started back up at the predicted mileage (4 miles to 7) I didn’t experience shin splints during training. I attribute this to the proper footwear for my feet and the recovery items I discuss below.
- FOAM ROLLER/ROLLING STICK – Your muscles will thank you. I promise. I used this foam roller and this stick after long runs and on rest days after I would stretch or do some yoga. They’re also great for after lifting sessions. Basically – if your muscles are sore then they’ll help!
- SPORTS BRA/LEGGINGS WITH POCKETS – Okay so unfortunately, I didn’t discover Senita Athletics until just before my first half. But I literally live in this brand now. I mean seriously – I have 5 bras, 7 pair of leggings, and 6 tops. But they’ve changed my workouts. I can turn on my music and start my run tracker and then stick my phone in the pocket in my bra between my shoulders. I don’t have to worry about dropping it, or it falling out of the front of my bra (where I used to stash it). I don’t have to worry about my arm sweating or itching from an arm band. The leggings are perfect for speed training when I’m having to pull out my phone over and over. They’re also a great place for me to store my workout fuel – easy access, no having to un-zip or flip a belt and then dig around to try to find what I need.
- NIKE RUN CLUB APP – I’m the kind of person that needs a plan. I also get bored/restless easily. I also was starting from square run in terms of running. I searched a lot on Pinterest for half marathon training plans and found some that seemed okay, but then I stumbled upon an add for the Nike training run app and thought I’d give it a shot. I used it for 3 runs and fell in love with it and haven’t used another training plan since. I love it because it is fully customizable – you choose how long of a training plan you’d like, and how many days a week you’re up for training. Then it bases your training runs on your progress, speed, and perceived rate of exertion.
- DURING RUN FUEL – everyone talks about pre and post workout fueling but for long distance running – it is so important to fuel during your runs. Especially if you’re new to it. Easy to digest carbohydrates are the best during run fuel. Some people prefer whole foods – fruits usually. I prefer these glucose packets for a couple of reasons. They take up less space than fruit, they’re easy to eat while running, they come with options that include caffeine and/or electrolytes. I get dehydrated easily while running and sweat a lot so I always choose one with electrolytes.
- EPSOM SALT BATHS – Epsom salt baths will help take the soreness out of your muscles, relax you and a bath in general is great for stress relief. The less stressed you are - the lower the cortisol levels you have – the better recovery you have. I grab regular Epsom salt, or the sore muscle specific one, and add in 6-8 drops of an essential oil, usually lavender or eucalyptus.
- COMPRESSION SLEEVES/SOCKS- These are the last on the list but not because they’re least important! I credit these and my running shoes with the lessening of my shin splints. I put these on while I sleep on the nights I run or am feeling particularly sore. I also run in them on my long runs (over 8-9 miles for me). They help with swelling and keep blood flow to the area which helps incredibly with muscle repair and recovery.
I hope this helped you find some things to try that will help you along your half marathon journey! Drop a comment below with your must have items or if you found anything in here useful!