Tips for first time half marathoners

by Renée Ross

So you’ve signed up to run the ZOOMA Half-Marathon with your girlfriends or maybe even solo and this is your first long distance race. If you are anything like me, you feel nervous, trepidation and are unsure if this was a good decision. And you are fearful that you may not be able to finish the race!

Believe me when I tell you these are perfectly normal feelings and we all had them after we signed up for our first 13.1. I ran my first in October 2010 and have run 11 subsequent races, despite the fact that I always said it would be one and done! I actually love this distance and am here to tell you that not only will you complete it but your sense of accomplishment as you cross the finish will have you smiling for days!

I am sure you are still skeptical. But here are a few pointers to get you across that finish line safely and injury free!

1. Get a good training plan. I personally am a fan of Dimity and Sarah’s book, Train Like a Mother. Even if you are not a parent, the training plans in this book are amazing. And the advice is wonderful. There are two training plans for 5k, 10k, half and full marathons – “finish it” and “Kill it” I suggest that you follow the Finish It plan because your first half should be all about the experience, not a time goal. Believe me, even if you are not a mother, the training plans in this book will have you race day ready.


2. Get good shoes. Visit your local running store and have your gait analyzed. There are shoes made for various gaits and you want to be precise when you make your choice. The folks working at the running store are experienced and after determining your gait, will provide you with at least three different shoes to try. Run around the store, maybe even run outside to determine the one that is best for you. After you get them home if you find they don’t work out for you, most running stores have a 30 day return policy and you can get another pair of shoes.


3. Listen to your body. During the training please be sure to listen to the cues given to you by your body. It is expected that you will have muscle soreness as you increase mileage, this is perfectly normal. However, if you have a pain that is constant and won’t go away, first try RICE – Rest, ice, compress and elevate. If the pain does not subside, go to the doctor. You may need to take a break from training. DON’T WORRY. It is better to take a break for a couple weeks than injure yourself seriously and not be able to run at all!


4. Enjoy your run. As you approach race day remember that what you are about to embark upon is a momentous occasion. You only have ONE first half-marathon. Be sure to enjoy it! As you run take in the sights, run and chat with a few friends (old and new) along the way, and revel in the feat that you are accomplishing. And maybe, like me when you finish the race, you will be hooked! And not only will you be a half-marathoner you will run one at least yearly!


These are my tips and if you have any questions or concerns, I am more than happy to address them. Happy Running!



Renée Ross leverages the power of social media to raise awareness of health and social -related causes.  She has lost over 50 pounds and utilized social media to document her journey.  She ran her first half-marathon in October 2010 and raised over $5000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a member of Team in Training. She has run a total of 10 half-marathons and is currently training for her first marathon in October.  Renée is also a licensed Zumba instructor and has been featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ebony, Upscale, Jet, Parents Magazines, Mom Blogging for Dummies and the Digital Mom handbook and is a contributing editor for BlogHer.  She is a member of the American Cancer Society Bloggers Advisory Council, a former mentor for Team in Training, advocates for Clean Air and is a United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow. 

Follow her on Twitter at ReneeJRoss, her Facebook HERE and check out her blog