I keep seeing "two hours" as the limit of your glycogen store. That's right if you're running 6-minute miles. Glycogen stores are typically 2000 calories, or about 20 miles for most runners. (And that's where you hit the wall.) So if you're running 6-minute miles, that's two hours. But if you're running 12-minute miles, it's four hours. The upshot is that most of us do not need fueling for a half marathon. On the other hand, you may very well feel better if you take something, which can give you a bit of a boost (sugar rush) for a while. I notice it myself. But it's not something you have to do.
Good luck on your race! Personally, nutrition and optimism are the most important pieces of advice that has assisted me with running.
1) Nutrition for energy and fuel.
There is a lot of different advice about carb loading the night before. It has worked great for me. Usually, I enjoy a spaghetti (not too much). The next morning, I drink a bottle of water, eat 1/2 bagel with peanut butter, and a banana. Then right before the race I drink a Gatorade Prime pack. I also carry a GU with me and eat/drink it around mile 8 or 9 when I may feel a little tired.
2) Running is just as much of a mental exercise as it is a physical one. It is amazing when you start telling yourself some sort of motivation how much running becomes easier. For example, I watched parts of the World Championship Ironman triathlon the other day, and I saw people who were over 80 years old finishing the event, and one person was a disabled vet with prosthetic legs. Overall, it is amazing how motivation and your thoughts can assist your performances.
My advice: get a training plan, but feel free to modify it to fit you. I'm about to turn 65 and am training for my 2nd Half. The training plans I've seen don't allow adaquate recovery time between runs for me. I get myself into overtraining situations and injuries. Be aware of these and scale back if needed. You don't want to show up race day exhaused and injured! The goal of your first Half should be on fininshing and having fun!
First Race - Santa Clarita 5K (November 2010) - 28:44 (3rd in age group)
Disneyland Half Marathon (September 4, 2011) - 2:17:32
Santa Clarita 5K (November 2011) - 27:07 (2nd in age group, PR)
So, I tried the jelly beans on my 8miler yesterday, LOVE them! I highly recommend them! I ran inside, so it was an easier run, I didn't really need the energy, but I was really thristy and didnt want to stop for water - so I tried eating 2 of these and it helped me with the dry mouth issue + it did give me a great burst of energy! AND on top of everything else, they tasted amazing! haha
I have completed 12 Miles...successfully and took bits and pieces of the advice found in this forum. My HM is still a few weeks away (11 Aug) but I think, like anything else, I wanna train thru-it...if that makes sense. You know, keep running and OWN my first HM. I tried the chews for energy and the shot blocks are my favorite. I also have implimented ice-baths (40lbs of ice-20 min) and soaking my feet in Epsom Salt after runs. WIN/WIN....no complaints. I appreciate all the valuable feedback...more to follow!
A few things from my HM:
1. One of the things I did not prepare for was the huge span of time from the time I got up and ate something for breakfast and the start (or end) time of the race. I had to get up close to 4 AM to be there to catch a 5 AM transport bus (up a canyon to the start line), Race started about 7:30AM and I finished 1:46 after that. I drank some water and might have had a protein bar before the race, but at about mile 6 I was starving. I remember thinking that if someone had held out a deep fried chimichanga at a water station, I would have eaten the whole thing. So plan to eat at the right time before the race starts.
2. A GPS or pace watch really helps. The pro guys that are official pace runners were not to my liking. They kept their posted pace even during long gradual down hill sections. Maybe that is normal, but when the running is easy downhill, I go faster and passed the pacer that I'd normally follow. As was said before, know your easy "run all day" pace and just stick with it without getting influenced by people who pass you, people you pass, or someone that seems to be running your exact pace. Run your own pace, and ignore your position in the race.
3. Run at least once 13+ miles. I ran several 11 milers before the race. Maybe it was unreleated, but I had to fight some calf cramps at mile 12. Maybe more water would have helped. A marathoner told me Tums (calcium carbonate) is a quick anti-cramp remedy. I used some at a Ragnar and they seemed help (but since i never got cramps, it was hard to be sure).
4. Most of all, have fun. As the above referenced article says, save yourself for a strong effort the last few miles. I had plenty of energy at the end and passed lots of people - it feels great.
One other thing, don't run too much the week before. Being strong, rested, and healthy is way more valuable than a few extra miles before the race.
I'm like you, did sports growing up but only started running in the past few years. Surprised no one is discussing the important issues. Two words: chafing and bowel schedule. Okay, 3 words. I had moderate chafing for my halfs on the inner thighs and lower back. At first I thought the back issue was related to a key and ID I was carrying but eventually figured out it was due to my underwear tag. Of course, the solution is to use shorts with a liner and skip the underwear. Use some Vaseline or similar for the thighs.
Make sure and get in a good BM before the race, assuming the morning is your usual routine. To accomplish this, eat slightly earlier than usual the night before. Obviously, make sure you wake up early enought the day of, eat a light breakfast and maybe even throw in a splash of coffee as a cathartic.
As for energy and hydration, I only took 1 water break around mile 9 and ate nothing during the race. Granted it was a nice and cool half, not excessively hilly and my time was 1:55 so I wasn't exactly pushing myself to the limit the whole time. If it's anything near warm, hydrate well. For training runs up to 12 miles for me, I never drank any water or had a snack so it wasn't a big deal. Of course, everyone is different.
Good luck to ya!!! I'm new at distance running, so all of the info folks are posting is great! I'm running my first HM at the end of October, so any tips, do's and don'ts are a great help to me. I've been doing 2 short runs, 1 medium run and 1 long run each week and have it mapped out on my calendar leading up to the race. I think I can do that part with no problem...but look forward to everyone's posts on hydration, food, and bathrooms!!!
Ah yes, chafing. This is an issue that people should have figured out during training. A product called Body Glide solved the problem for me. I never really run without it now. Apply where needed. Lasts plenty long.
As far as nutrition during the race, I really like Clif Shot Blocks or Honey Stinger chews. I haven't tried the gels yet, I don't think I'd care for them too much. But I've heard Gu berry ones are good.
I get stomach cramps after the race and I think that may be an electrolyte issue. A few people I know swear by drinking salt water during the last half of the race to ease cramping.
Also, definitely do at least 10 miles. I've done 2 HMs in the last couple of months. The first one I trained for, the other one not so much and it was a suffer fest. I definitely have some tendonitis because of it = not worth it! And lift weights in addition to running. It really helps the joints and makes your legs look better for all of those race photos
Have a great time out there, everyone!
Congrats on your endeavors! You can do it!
I'm working on my 4 th half marathon and heading to California to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge from Disney.
What I've learned from these last 2 years of running (I've NEVER run before 2 years ago) is to listen to your body and do what works for you. My running partner and I fuel completely different. She does the gels and gummy drops....I don't do the sugar/carbs that way. I will carb up on oatmeal a couple of days leading up to the race and a little bread the night before. During the race, I pack and snack on Pure Protein bars (usually 1/2 bar) and raisins. I started with the raisins after reading an article about gels vs. natural foods as fueling. We've finished with the same times andd without any troubles....so do what is right for you. I personally stay away from sugars/breads/carbs (unless it's fresh fruit), and only if I'm feuling right before a race.
Also, don't wait to try something the morning of the race....prepare your body in the weeks working up to the race.
Hope it helps and Best of Luck !
Female, 46 years old, 146 lbs.
1/7/2012-Half marathon-2:15:01 (Heart and Sole)
2/26/2012- Half marathon-2:25:00 (Disney World Princess Half)
3/4/2012-Half marathon-2:14:10 (New Orleans RocknRoll)
Congrats to all of the new HMers out there!
I've only got two HMs under my belt and a third coming up in six weeks (SF Giant Race). I am still learning a lot about the best practices in running 13.1 miles, and at the risk of repeating what many others have said, I will share my best advice:
1) By the time you get up to 4 weeks before the race, definitely be up to at least 10 miles for your long runs, and continue with 3-5 mile maintenance runs a couple times a week. Running outside is best as opposed to a treadmill.
2) As someone else mentioned, take it easy the week leading up to race day, or else you'll wear yourself out or risk injury. I would get by with running 3 miles a few times in the week leading up to the race.
3) If possible, try to run the route of the race prior to race day to familiarize yourself with the terrain--especially for races that may cover more challenging ground. I cannot express how crucial this was for the San Francisco Half Marathon I just ran. Death by a Thousand Hills!
4) CHAFFING. Yes, it sucks. Get the Body Glide or use Vaseline. Otherwise it is not pretty afterwards.
5) This may seem like a 'no duh' piece of advice, but invest in a GOOD pair of running shoes. Go to a place where they can analyze your running gait and find the best type of shoes. Be prepared to shell out some $$$ but it is worth it.
6) Fit in some strength training in addition to your running to keep your muscles limber and strong.
7) What you eat in the days leading up to the race is important. Don't eat/drink any dairy products the day before/day of the race unless you want to be cursed by indigestion, cramps, and frequent bathroom stops.
Best of luck to you all! You can do it!
All the Best for your first half. I ran my first at the RnR St Pete in Feb. What a blast it was although at mile 12 I was ready to be DONE! I used the Shot blocks with the caffeine, I am a fan of the Black Cherry. I don't like the Gu and it doesn't like me I ate oneShot block 30-45 mins before the race and I did nibble on half of one at around 1 and 1/2 hrs (I finished in 1:56). I do run with my own liquid and I did a mix with a little less than half gatorade and the rest water.
I followed Hal Hingdon's intermediate plan but did run the whole 13.1 during the week that was 12 miles. I wanted my body to feel the entire distance. I am now running another Half in Sept and am following the advanced plan adding in more speedwork and hills. I hope it pays off. I think the best advice is always to run smart, don't go out too fast, relax, and just run your own race. Don't forget the importance of the taper and the rest for the weeks coming up to your race. I didn't run the 2 days before the race and it helped. I was ready and I felt great!
Good Luck to you!
Just finished my first HM. Proud to say I successfully completed it as a "Big" runner (235lbs) with a time of 2:14:53. I appreciate all of the valuable information provided on these blogs. An ICE-BATH...then soak these feet in Epsom Salt and enjoy the down time.
Just signed up for a 10K on Sept 16..Addicting!!
Thanks again for the HELP.