What To Expect For Your First Half Marathon

Almost four years ago, I successfully completed my first 13.1 miles at Run To The Beat.  I hadn’t ever considered running a half marathon; I’d barely ever run 10km, but when the opportunity came up just 5 weeks before race day I couldn’t turn it down! I mustered up a plan, all my energy and finished in 2:27 …a time that I am still so very proud of to this day!

To date, I’ve completed 5 half marathons and have two more in the diary for 2016 (along with a triathlon and a cycling sportive – no big deal!). Last year I shared with you my Top 10 EssentElle Half Marathon Tips so this year, along with re-sharing those of course, I thought I’d reach out to my community and see what tips / advice / stories they had to share with us!

What To Expect For Your First Half Marathon

1. Make sure your expectations align with the training you put in. 

This one comes from my Top 10 Half Marathon Tips and I think it sums up everything nicely. If you commit to a 12 week plan, runnign 4-5 times a week then no doubt you have big plans for race day! But, Helen of HelsBels reminds us not to “get too caught up in your race plan. I know we all have tactics and that’s great but you need to be prepared to change them if necessary on the day.” 

Erica (of Erica Finds) shares her advice to “start slow and finish strong. I have run over 150 half marathons. In marathons and halfs, it feels slow at the start if you are going your goal pace (especially if you do speedwork or shorter races). Trust your training and yourself to keep an even pace and if you feel great at mile 10, let the games begin!”

2. You may spend a lot of time arguing with the voice in your head. 

I was relieved when Ann of Adventurous Mum mentioned this one. In some races, I find myself arguing with the voice inside my head the entire time. It continually asks me why I’m doing this, looks out for good opportunities to stop and then causes all sorts of random aches / pains in places I’ve never had aches or pains before! Ann says that all you need to remember is don’t give in to the inner critic, you can do it when you set your mind to it”. 

3.  The Half Marathon distance deserves respect in its own right. 

Gareth (I’d Rather Be Out Running) says I think HM is the toughest race distance as its not a flat out sprint like 5K & it’s not all about distance like a full marathon.…and I couldn’t agree more! You have to balance your training with speed work, pacing yourself and endurance.

4. Never judge a run by the first mile. Or two. Or three. Or four.  

(from Taking The Long Way Home). I don’t work in miles, but in km, it always takes me at least the first two km’s to really settle into the run, feel comfortable and begin to enjoy the event! In the first km’s my body and mind both try to resist and convince me to quit – if you remember this, and keep fighting that inner critic, you too will find your stride…

So who’s about to run their first half?! …I’m scheduled to run North London Half Marathon on Sunday 20th March (after not much training and being struck with flu) but my only goal is to enjoy the race and finish! 

Do you have any tips you would like to share?! leave them in the comments below…




  1. Matilda Iglesias
    April 5, 2016 / 04:17

    Training runs are there to test you, not only physically, but mentally. Training runs are also the perfect time to test out anything you may want to try. For example:-Water / gels-food-shoes-socksTest out all gear in training runs, and not on event day.

    • Elle Linton
      April 5, 2016 / 13:29

      This is very true 🙂 …think this is covered in my essential tips! …its a hard lesson to learn when you try new things on race day! lol ..hope you are well Matilda! x

  2. Nancy from Runabees
    March 21, 2016 / 08:51

    Elle,Thank you for this great round up. I find some of advice really refreshing. One should tame their inner critic. You just have to be crystal clear about your WHY. Once you know the reasoning behind your goal, you become unstoppable. Show your inner critic who is in charge and just keep pushing.I read your tips about running a half marathon too. Great picks. The only thing that I do differently is that I don't prepare to fail. Having a plan B, shifts my focus from my end goal and makes me procrastinate on my training.

    • Elle Linton
      April 4, 2016 / 14:36

      Hey Nancy! Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂 Also, in relation to the tips post, I think the quote is "fail to prepare, prepare to fail" so no plan B needed! Just need to ensure that you have everything in place to make your end goal, hence I totally agree with your comment! – Elle 🙂

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