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How to run the first half marathon? 12 easy steps


Are you planning to run a half marathon this spring, but - let's be honest - are you out of training? We learned from professional trainers what will happen if you go to a distance of 21.1 km without preparation.

Spring is just around the corner, and with it the traditional spring half marathons in all European (and not only) capitals. It is believed that after the winter months, at the very beginning of the training season, the runners are not yet in such good shape to run a marathon - that's why most of the large international marathons in the Northern Hemisphere are held from August to November. Spring is set aside for half marathon distances. Here are some of the most notable races of 2015: March 8 - half marathon in Paris, March 29 - half marathon in Berlin, April 12 - half marathon in Vienna and so on.

How does it usually happen? Somewhere in October, after a series of successful races (which were preceded by a summer of hard training), you are sure that you can do anything. The prospect of training four times a week on roads covered with mud, snow, ice and salt is not scary, as is the uniformity of the tracks. You set yourself the Big Goal - the marathon next fall and the half marathon in the spring, then register, buy tickets, pay for the hotel - and forget about all this safely. You are waiting for more relevant topics: New Year fever, six-month report and 11 days of holidays. As a result, many people recall preparing for the race closer to February.

“A half-marathon with insufficient training, of course, will not lead to anything good. Unless you amuse your Sense of self-importance by the very fact of overcoming the distance. “The negative consequences can be aggravated by the existing excess weight, improperly selected sneakers, excessive initial pace of overcoming the distance.” Vladimir Metelkin, NewRunners Consulting Trainer

It is believed that at least four months are required to fully prepare for the 42.2 km distance. In this case, is it true that two are enough for a half marathon? And what if there are less than two months left before the start, but you still have not started training? Is it worth it to hand over tickets or run "at random", because this is "just" a half marathon? There are several scenarios.

Option number 1 is obvious. If you really haven’t trained since the fall and / or never run for more than 10 km, but have already bought tickets and booked accommodation, go on a short vacation: cheer on the runners and enjoy a short trip. Do not risk your health.

Option number 2 - you "trained." We went to the gym, periodically ran on the track, walked on an ellipse, swam or attended yoga (underline as necessary). Alas, none of the above types of physical activity (as well as kickboxing, wrestling, exercise bike, snowboarding and so on) can be an alternative to running. Axiom: the only way to prepare for a half marathon is to run regularly.

"If muscle pain is a problem a few days after the finish, which is also well masked by endorphin euphoria, then things like decreased immunity, sprains and degenerative changes in bone tissue caused by excessive compression can require medical attention." Vladimir Metelkin, NewRunners Consulting Trainer

What will happen to those who decide to go half marathon distance with insufficient training? In short: nothing good.

- Get ready for the fact that you will often have to move on to the step. Even if at the beginning of the race it will seem to you that you are running at a good pace, by the tenth-twelfth kilometer (or even earlier) this illusion will disappear, your strength will run out, and you will have to slow down - or even stop to catch your breath. Do not think that in extreme cases you will “just walk” the distance: you walk 21.1 km in “just” four hours, and even if you run part of the distance, you will walk the remaining kilometers in exhausted condition.

- You may begin to have problems with thermoregulation caused by an imbalance in electrolytes. This, of course, can happen with every runner who neglects to eat and drink at a distance, but the body (not used to long physical exertion) (or weaned from them) is in an increased risk zone.

- In addition to acute pain in the muscles of the legs, arrogant lovers often experience disorientation and dizziness. If you went a distance without getting prepared properly, put up with the thought that you might have to get off it. With all of the above symptoms, the distance your run should turn towards the first medical aid station (or the first volunteer).

In order to once again focus on the importance of preparing for the half marathon, we decided to turn to professional trainers and talked with them about the consequences of trying to run 21.1 km without full training.

In general, a one-time similar start without preparation for a healthy person will probably take place without negative consequences, but in the case of a habit of such impromptu the fate of such a runner will be unenviable.

Vasily Permitin, sports coordinator of the I Love Running running school and author of the portal, master of sports, member of the Russian track and field athletics team:

“You need to understand that everything is individual. Someone will run the half marathon without running at all, and someone after hard training will hardly finish the distance. As practice shows, those who are conscientious about the training recommended by professionals will be able, even starting from scratch, to prepare for their first 21.1 km in just seven weeks - so even if there are less than two months left before the marathon, you still have nothing not missed - especially if you turn to prepare for professionals.

If you understand before the start that your preparation is not enough, you can try to catch up with the increase in the intensity and volume of training - but if you do not correlate them with your real capabilities, you can easily get injured, overtrained, mentally and physically tormented, in the future, distance. Any runner from a beginner to a professional goes to the race obviously not for this purpose. During the competition itself, you risk not running to the finish line, while at the same time suffering. Well, after an unsuccessful start, you will also get pain, as the body will not be able to cope with the load that has overtaken it and a huge amount of lactic acid, which will be several times more in an unprepared body. ”

Anastasia Chelysheva, online coach of the Cheetah marathon club, master of sports in marathon running, member of the Russian mountain running team:

“The half marathon is serious. An unprepared runner puts his musculoskeletal system, the heart, to a strong test, he also runs the risk of experiencing hypoglycemia and immunity.

If you are overweight or flat feet, you are especially at risk for knee, ankle, and hip joints and ligaments. After all, a half marathon is a constant shock load for two hours. And if you have extra pounds, then this load increases many times. As a result, your race may end with a traumatologist.

Uneven (once a week or less) physical activity leads to impaired heart function and the possible development of uneven hypertrophy. This can only be avoided with regular aerobic exercise. During the half-marathon, the heart works in an enhanced mode, for an untrained person this can lead to heart failure, arrhythmia and even a heart attack.

Also, a poorly trained runner has very limited glycogen (glucose) stores in his body. As a result, after about an hour of running, the muscles begin to “take” glucose from the blood - the glucose level decreases, which can lead to fainting. The help of various nutritional gels in this situation is doubtful, since the body is under stress and cannot function normally.

If you are reading this article and there are only two months left before the run, do the following:
1) Work (ideally with a trainer) on the correct running technique, work on strengthening muscles and ligaments.
2) Follow a training plan that will prepare the heart for stress and teach the body to create large reserves of glycogen and easily switch to fat burning.
3) Make a diet that will allow the body to properly recover after jogging.
Make a detailed plan for visiting the sights of the city in which you plan to run a half marathon. Because if you follow the previous points, you are guaranteed to have the strength to do it!

1. Start training in advance

Half marathon is not just another run, it is about 2 hours of running, which is a serious burden on the body, so you need to thoroughly prepare it for such tests. Adequately assess your condition at the moment. And it will be better if the choice falls on a longer and more gradual training process. Do not force the preparation for the half marathon, this will only lead to unnecessary injuries and displeasure with the result.

2. Follow a predefined workout plan.

Running a half marathon is a serious goal for any novice runner, and, as you know, a detailed plan is needed for every big goal. Consult with a trainer or use special programs to draw up a training plan in accordance with your initial training.

When you have a detailed training and rest plan for several months in advance up to the day of the half marathon, you will feel more confident. You will have to follow the plan, without any hesitation, whether you are training correctly.

3. Keep a training diary

A training diary is a wonderful thing that will allow you to record how your body responds to a particular load. In addition, the training diary is also good in terms of self-motivation. When we see our progress in anything, we want to develop and improve in this matter more and more.

4. Listen to your body and body

Sometimes even the most ideal plan is worth adjusting depending on how you feel. If you feel that you have overtrained and you need an additional day off, take a break, there will be nothing wrong with that. It’s better to relax a bit and start training with new physical and moral strength than to subject yourself to injuries and psychological breakdowns against the background of fatigue.


They say that a marathon can run only 1% of the world's population. But by no means the desire to enter the mysterious circle of sportsmen brought me to him. The marathon became the flip side of my self-destruction. I will talk about why, why and how I ran the marathon in Paris on April 8, 2018. I often rummaged in search of answers to questions and realized that there was not so much information about the aspects of amateur marathon training, so I decided to talk about my experience.

A year ago, I tried in vain to quit smoking. I crushed a cigarette on the urn near the office, swore to myself that it was the last, and then everything repeated. Some people are not able to imagine me without a cigarette even now. Self-deception about a monstrous disease in which a cigarette would kill me did not go. I realized that it was necessary to create a terrible situation in which smoking actually put life at risk. Not through mythical years, all these fake gargoyles in packs, but right here and now.

Last spring, I just often and selflessly ran. I smoked after that with double pleasure. But here the long distance, as I understand it, was no longer compatible with smoking. Dangerous. Impossible.

Therefore, I signed up for a half marathon and so stopped smoking.

After him, a couple more ran in the summer and went to the mountains in the fall, where there is so little oxygen. And after the mountains, my friend and I went from lunch and talked about what we want right now from life. She wanted to go to Paris, but I wanted new trials in order to drive myself into a corner again and not to be with pink wine and a cigarette at Rubinstein’s street table, which I had already secretly begun to think about.

And somehow we remembered that in Paris in the spring a marathon, and immediately bought slots. Was this decision too spontaneous, was it dumb to me? Of course. And the most terrible thing was not the fear of running for many hours or overload, but the fear of quitting training, the fear that there would be a convincing excuse enough to get out of the way, and then despise oneself at heart for the rest of his life. Goosebumps walked around the body. And then we started to prepare.

7. Breathe the way you feel comfortable

There is a misconception that you must somehow specifically breathe while running. Someone tries to breathe only through the nose, someone only through the mouth, and someone tries to adjust their breathing to the frequency of steps. All this is a complication of the natural process for humans. Run as you please, and the body itself will adjust the optimal breathing.

9. Find like-minded people to maintain motivation and interest.

Getting ready for your first half marathon is much more interesting and easier with someone, as there is always the opportunity to share your results, emotions and impressions and just ask for advice. Like-minded runners will always support and give additional motivation. This is an incredibly important and powerful component in preparation, use it 100%!

11. Do not forget about OFP

OFP is a general physical preparation. Take time to train your abs, back, and leg muscles. A lot of muscle groups are involved in running, the tone and strength of which will make you run easier. Do not do exercises with large weights, it is better to do more repetitions with minimal burden.

12. Decide on purpose

Choose the specific half marathon you want to take part in, and always imagine how you enjoy running a race and finish successfully, after which, with a medal, the finishers, satisfied and happy, go home, where all your relatives and friends admire you and look at you with great Regards Keep this picture and your goal in running a half marathon in your head: it will always give you strength and motivation before your next workout.


Although I had already run 21 kilometers several times, it was clear that for a distance twice as many, you need to find a coach who will draw up a plan and know what to do. A classmate advised Yegor Chernov. Our preparation time fell on the months from October to April, so weekly interval training took place in the building of the cycle track on Krestovsky Island.

To be honest, at first I thought it was enough to come to training several times. The trainer will give advice on technology, write a plan to the marathon, and everything else can be done independently. Actually in preparation a bunch of nuances. Together with the trainer, we practiced every week for half a year.

Of course, you can prepare yourself. For example, using Runkeeper or another application. I think there is nothing wrong with that. However, the opportunity to consult with a trainer at any time and the presence of a controlling factor, when after each training session you need to report to an authoritative person, had a significant impact on the success of the entire event.

Preparation for a marathon is long and monotonous.

Now I know all the distances by kilometers in the Admiralteysky district and on the Neva, I know in the face of all the stone lions and caryatids, footage of bridges, how many New Found Glory songs are needed to get from the house to the Neva embankment.

Once a week, we came to the track for 2-3 hours: the program included intervals, running exercises, and statics. For the rest of the days, the trainer made a plan for running training. Five days a week. An average of 50–70 kilometers per week. On Saturday or Sunday - a long workout of 15-30 kilometers.

For communication, we created a chat where it was necessary to throw reports and discuss pressing issues. Now, wherever I went, no matter what my day was scored, I had to find time to run. If I knew that the evening after work was busy, I had to go in the morning. Sometimes there were night runs and numerous runs on trips. This, by the way, is a cool way to explore a new city or coast. I ran in Spain, Copenhagen, Bali, Moscow, Krasnaya Polyana and Karelia.


The trainer immediately said that it is safest to run in the park, on the track or in the arena. This was unthinkable: if you imagine 500 looped circles in the park near the theater on the Fontanka, the knee joints cease to seem something necessary in the household. If you still run on asphalt, then the only way to protect your legs is to buy running shoes on a huge sole.

I had to go to the store for real running maniacs, stupidly run on the track under the supervision of the seller and as a result buy a strange looking Hoka One One with a giant white sole. They look like marshmallows tied to their feet. Sneakers were excellent. I ran into them for more than a thousand kilometers, my joints are in perfect order, and the shoes still look almost like new. Кроссовки выдержали лёд, тропические ливни, слякоть и палящее солнце. Однозначно рекомендую.

К другим полезным атрибутам могу добавить беговую сумочку-пояс. Я купила её случайно на выигранные в автомате деньги в Финляндии. И это стало лучшей покупкой года. В сумочку помещаются телефон, гели, пластырь и ключи. А ещё она не болтается на теле во время бега.

I also purchased leg warmers to protect calves during long workouts, and warm running pants H&M Sport. A watch with a Suunto heart rate monitor that helps me monitor the pace, counts kilometers and a bunch of indicators, my husband gave me.

A little complicated kit outfit need to train in the winter.

To sweat outdoors at –10 ° C, the body needs to be clothed in several layers of clothing. Thermal underwear, some ultralight mountain things, the Red Fox windbreaker and rashguards in which boxers train were saving me. This is a thin and light jacket with a long sleeve, similar to a surfer lycra, which removes sweat and stores heat. Instead of thermal underwear, I sometimes wore woolen tights under my pants. Of course, a hat, a warm scarf and gloves are required.

During training, I listened to music, lectures and audio books, chatted with my friend when we ran together, talked on the phone, composed stories in my head, and thought about my life.

I used to think that running is an excellent way to lose weight. This was indeed the case when he was not such an ordinary thing for the body. During the preparation, I did not lose a single kilogram. Of course, if I kept a healthy diet all the time or followed all the instructions from the book “Competitive Weight. How to become dry for peak performance "and other wise recommendations, then I would have dried up. But the ugly running brother, whose name is "you can eat, I ran," and my love of junk food did their dirty job, as a result of which my girlfriend, signing us in the mirror, signed "runners on the mass."

During the preparation, I got acquainted with the gels and the need to eat right on the run.

At first I thought it was some kind of bravado, and not a real physical need. But when the real long trainings started, I knew what happens if after two hours of running I do not eat something in time. You will run, but then you will suffer from nausea, headache and loss of strength.

I learned to take gels and protein bars with me, and on the weekend my husband saved me: sometimes he brought me bananas and Coke on the 25th kilometer somewhere to Krestovsky Island. Required was also the intake of vitamins and Panangin throughout the preparation.

A week before the marathon, the trainer offered us a fancy meal plan. Carbohydrate discharge, when you only eat protein for three days and exercise to spend all of the glycogen, and then eat carbohydrates for three days and provide extra loading of glycogen. This helps to avoid encountering a marathon “wall” when forces leave after 30 kilometers.

I can say that the circuit works. None of us had any hints of a “wall”, although at a distance we saw people with blue lips who were taken away by an ambulance.

Somewhere in late January, the most difficult period came. And he was not about injury, illness, or excessive stress. While the load was growing, it was exciting to test yourself for strength, to take off your shoes every time a slightly changed person, who had just learned something new about himself.

The most unpleasant and difficult period was when the training was sick. It became boring. And suddenly a pity for the time.

Saturdays turned into a becent-free day: breakfast, long jogging, hot shower, lunch. After work, you can’t go wherever you want, but you need to drag yourself to change clothes, and then run for an hour along the promenade, where you know every granite slab. And it will be unimaginably long to drag on. Or go to the track and run 68 identical circles there. This boredom gave rise to anger and a desire to quit.

Then the audiobooks saved me. Once I turned on Pelevin's audio book “Pineapple Water for a Beautiful Lady” and after an hour and a half regretted that it was time to go home.

Distracted and add intellectual exercise to physical activity - this is my recipe for the blues of monotony.

And the top of the most unpleasant moments was not at the marathon, but at training. Here he is:

  1. Long training after arriving from Bali from +30 to –10 ° C and 22 kilometers without food. Wild cold, temperature after.
  2. Training at 4-5 in the morning, when there was no other time.
  3. Training a week after 30 kilometers, when the body did not have time to recover, and the body was as if filled with lead.
  4. Eight kilometers after three days on a protein diet four days before the marathon, when even a word spoken out loud seemed a waste of energy.
  5. Interval training after the flu.

But after all this, I realized that I was capable of more than I imagined before. And this is an incredibly valuable discovery.

We flew to Paris on the eve of the marathon. For the race, we bought and printed the same black uniform with the inscription Turn your pain into power. We went through registration, got numbers with chips and starter packs, cool running backpacks. We had a good dinner, and in the morning we met already on the Champs Elysees.

55,000 people took part in the Paris Marathon this year. Of these, 290 are Russians, 5,000 are women. Husbands escorted my friend and I to the start area and went for a walk. We were waiting for them at the 30th kilometer, where they were supposed to give us additional gels. You can’t take it on yourself for more than three, but you need to eat every 5 kilometers, starting from the 15th.

At the start, music was playing, people warming up, singing.

The striking atmosphere of a gigantic international sports festival struck us on the spot. It’s worth living for the sake of such events.

Finally, the countdown and the start. We ran.

The first ten kilometers went through the center: Champs Elysees, the Louvre, Place de la Bastille, crazy aesthetics and courage. We were greeted by the townspeople, fans, firefighters, musicians. Then a huge park began, and then the sun began to bake, the temperature that day rose to +20 ° C. We ran under the stream of water, which stood all the way to cool the runners, and poured out of bottles and basins.

They kept pace all the time: in a stream of people and unfamiliar terrain, you can easily run faster than usual, then there will not be enough forces in the end. Many familiar marathon runners warned about this. I constantly looked at the clock, we periodically deliberately slowed down.

From the 15th kilometer, as the trainer advised, they began to eat gels, then oranges and bananas, which were given by volunteers on the way. Then the gels ran out, but at the 29th kilometer friends and husbands were waiting for us, watching the movement in real time in a special application. The guys passed new gels and ran a little with us.

By this time, I had already begun to get tired and took out my headphones. Music added enthusiasm and strength. People around began to move on a step. It was really hard after about the 32nd kilometer and up to the 39th. Time began to drag on hellishly slowly, the muscles of the hips began to ache. I doused them with water, and also my head and back, ate sweets, it became easier.

Cheerfully encouraged by the fans, funny posters (for example, “See Paris and sweat!”), Crazy costumes of other runners, watching what is happening around.

My girlfriend and I talked almost all the time. And then the feeling of an approaching finish overshadowed all muscle nagging. Finally, after jumping over the fence, the guys flew in and with the cries of delight ran the last meters. Gigantic inscription You did it!, medal and pure joy! Some kind of saving devastation.

We ate oranges and set off on foot to look for a cafe to drink juice. It was then that the effective work that the coach did with us became visible. Unlike many people who literally lay flat on the pavement, sitting with their knees hugged, or sleeping right at the finish, after the race we went to the shower for our two, and in the evening and the next day we walked calmly. Going down the stairs a little sideways, but still kicking. This is my first marathon.

After the marathon, I realized that the last six months I spent the way I want to spend the rest of my life: learning patience in work and becoming an amateur of increasingly unbelievable areas.