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12590 Views 18 Replies Latest reply: Sep 11, 2014 1:17 PM by Mair_H 1 2 Previous Next
Mair_H Amateur 27 posts since
Feb 12, 2014
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 16, 2014 12:06 PM

5/10K runner to (hopefully) half-marathon, but I have no idea what I'm doing

I've run about ten 5Ks and three 10Ks.  I'm not very fast, but I do okay (except for that time I came in last on my first 10K).  A local small half-marathon in October caught my eye, unfortunately recently I've had to deal with the summer heat, an inflammed inguinal ligament, catching a horrid cold, and the realization that I run slightly on the outside of my left foot.  Thinking this may have caused the inflamation, on my last run, I tried to run with my foot straight but I think I overcompensated because I was fraught with foot pain all night... although my new running shoes may have contributed to this too.


Before the injury and illness, I was running between 3.5 and 4 miles and figured I'd just gradually increase my mileage as best I could, then follow Active's 13.1 Mile Training Guide in the last two months before the race (which is right now). 


But there are so many things I don't know.  What do I eat the morning of the race? Gels - what are they?  Does the race supply them or do I bring my own?  I do carry my own water (palm holder) but what if I overhydrate, underhydrate? About how long will the race take me?  (last 10K was done in 1:17)


And then there are probably many, many things I don't know to ask. 


I don't know any runners.  I run/train by myself. 



  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,473 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    Well, you seem to know a few things.  One thing I will say is - don't try to change your footplant.  The only reason to contemplate such a change is if you know (with no doubt) that it is causing pain/injury.  If not, leave it alone.


    Your 1:17 10K projects probably to a 2:50 to 3:00 half-marathon, depending on how well you train. 


    Gels - they're kind of like pudding but not quite so palatable.  They come in little foil packets, you rip off the top and squeeze out the contents.  Gels should be taken with water (not sports drink) for easier digestion.  Races may or may not supply gels along the way.  There will be water stations about every 2 miles.  Some may also have gels and/or sports drink in addition to water.  It depends on the race and is more likely in marathons than in half-marathons.  Check the race web site for more info. 


    Water - "Drink to thirst."  If you're thirsty, drink.  If not, it's a toss-up (in my opinion).  Don't drink just because you think you ought to.  Make sure you're well hydrated all week before the race and raceday should not be an issue.  The amount you can take in at water stations is usually adequate (for a half, anyway).  Usually the cups will be about half full - more than that and you'll just spill it anyway.  You may have to take two cups sometimes - it depends on how good the crew is about filling them.  Hopefully they're paper cups.  Squeeze the cup into a "V" and drink from the point.  More in your mouth, less on your shirt. 


    Food - Eat well the day/night before, but don't stuff yourself or you'll feel it on race morning.  Morning of eat lightly if at all, and at least two hours before the race.  Something high carb, like a bagel, usually works well.  If you eat, you want to give it time to clear your stomach before the race starts.


    Training - The only caution I would give about tha Active plan is speedwork - stride/tempo/fartlek/intervals, what have you.  I would recommend you avoid speedwork at this point, unless you are already very familiar with it.  Introducing speedwork should be done gradually, and these circumstances are not the best time for it.  For more general advice, look at Hal Higdon's Novice plans, not necessarily for the schedule but for the advice he gives before the schedule.  (


    Good luck, have fun!


  • hammer4321 Amateur 33 posts since
    Apr 3, 2013

    Beginner runner here with first HM recently done.


    Main advice I would give based on my first run of that distance is to get the long runs in at whatever pace you can do them.  I've seen training plans that have runs up to 10 miles for a HM but my own experience with my first HM was that the last 3 miles were by far the toughest.  There's nothing to get the body used to running for 2+ hours in the race then running 2+ hours in training.  I'm looking to do a 10K in just over a month and I'm going to make sure most of my workout runs are at least that distance.  I did speedwork in training but looking back I think I should have just put in more long runs.


    Regarding drinking on the run...I'm not one to take walk breaks but I will slow to a walk to drink.

  • Kelly1066 Pro 131 posts since
    Jul 12, 2012

    I went from a 1:07 10k to training for a half marathon and wrote a lot about it on my blog - here's a list of all the blog posts I wrote about training for a half marathon and my personal experience (which might be useful since we're a similar pace!)


    Wish you the best - it's a great journey!


    I agree with not pushing a specific pace on long runs.  I found that my best strategy for my first half marathon was just to add miles slowly (no more than 10% a week, and I had a few recovery weeks of low mileage).  I was training to COMPLETE my first half marathon, not RACE it for a specific time, and that's usually great advice for the first race of any distance!

    I write a running blog geared towards other new runners at!

    Couch to 5K graduate, September 2012

    First 10K, June 2nd, 2013

    First Half Marathon, September 2013

    Twitter: @iamrunningthis

  • Kelly1066 Pro 131 posts since
    Jul 12, 2012

    Thanks!!  Um, 5?  That's incredible - if you can manage 5 kids you can do ANYTHING.  I seriously mean that!


    I love that shirt - it still cracks me up every time I pull it out and wear it!


    The funny thing is, after three half marathons I still feel like kind of a fraud putting it on.  Fake it until you become it... right?  But then realize that you're there!!!


    Happy running

    I write a running blog geared towards other new runners at!

    Couch to 5K graduate, September 2012

    First 10K, June 2nd, 2013

    First Half Marathon, September 2013

    Twitter: @iamrunningthis

  • SMi28 Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 20, 2013

    I have done 1 half marathon and am training for another one in October, so I am not a professional by any means, but I have a couple of suggestions of things I have learned or have had running friends clue me in on.  Regarding the running on the outside of your foot- make sure you go to an actual running store and get fitted for proper shoes.  There are tons of shoes out there that will correct for supination (foot rolling out) and pronation (foot rolling in).  A good store should be able to do a gait analysis and suggest some models that will help.


    Regarding the gels-if you haven't been training with them, don't try them on race day.  I know a couple of people who get sick (puke) when they use them, and you don't want that on race day.


    I would definitely try to do more than 10 miles before the big day, but make sure you are trending down on mileage the last couple of weeks before the race to avoid injury.


    Good luck!

  • RoyShelley7915 Rookie 1 posts since
    May 30, 2014

    Re: gels - try GU or Honey Stingers. The fruit/berry ones seem easiest to digest. Take two with you on the race - consume one at 4miles and one at 8miles, followed by water (not gatorade) at those water stops. That is, take one just before the 4m/8m water stop then slow down & drink some water (a few seconds to drink properly is not going to seriously affect your time).


    Also, unless you absolutely have to, you never want to completely stop. The lactic acid will make your legs feel like lead unless you keep moving (even if it is just walking).


    The last few miles you'll be thinking "Why the h*** am I doing this." Ten minutes after you finish you'll be thinking "When's the next one?"


    Good luck & have fun!


  • Kelly1066 Pro 131 posts since
    Jul 12, 2012

    I started with Gu and recently switched to Vega gels - I find them easier on my stomach and like that I recognize more of the ingredients.  I also like nuun tablets for hydrating - they're super portable because they're little tabs that come in a tube and you drop half of one into water and it fizzes into a sports drink with no sugar. 

    I write a running blog geared towards other new runners at!

    Couch to 5K graduate, September 2012

    First 10K, June 2nd, 2013

    First Half Marathon, September 2013

    Twitter: @iamrunningthis

  • JoeFratena Rookie 4 posts since
    Aug 4, 2014

    There are many, many very experienced runners who swear by gu, gatorade etc....the first half I ever ran I read so many blogs I was prepared! Had my gu's, water belt, compression socks, the whole outfit! As I've run more I *personally* have begun to think a lot of that stuff is gimmicky. 2 weeks ago I did a half and all I had was my phone in a spibelt in case of emergency.


    I got 2 cups of water at each station, roughly 2 miles apart. I drank one and poured the other down my neck/back to keep my body temp down. (If you pinch the water cup, tilt your head to the side, and pour the water into your cheek, you can avoid choking and having water splash in your face and nose) Best race I've ran.


    If that other stuff works for you then by all means go for it, but if something feels awkward or clumsy or not right don't feel obligated to do it because you see everyone else doing it. Good luck!

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,473 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    Ha ha!  Well, I have to agree with JoeFratena.  Over many years of running many races at  distances up to marathon, I've concluded it doesn't matter much what you eat/drink, as long as you drink some reasonable amount.  For a marathon, taking in some fuel can help.  Take it in early (up to about 18 miles) and it will help late.  For half-marathon or less, fuel is more a psychological boost than anything.  A gel can give you a brief (10 minutes maybe) sugar high, then you're back to "normal".  Staying as hydrated as possible is more important, whatever you drink.


  • justamaniac Legend 231 posts since
    May 30, 2007

    I agree... with a HM gels or other foods is mostly psychological.  But yeah, there are times when I start to feel an energy slump for no apparent reason, and I have to dig into my my pouch to find a gel (I've gotten into the habit of always carrying an emergency gel for those just-in-case moments). In my case I can't seem to predict when or if it will hit me.  Mostly I'll run a HM without fuel, and as Len mentioned, make sure that I hydrate all the way (not too much.... just enough).


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