Wisdom For First Time Half-Marathoners

By Vanessa Wallace. Vanessa is a 2019 Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, and lover of selfies, cows and dance parties on the run. You can read more from her blog at vanessagoesfromfattofit.com


Toeing the line for your first half marathon is an exciting event but can come with some nerves as well!  Here are some tips for your first 13.1!

  • The tried and true: nothing new on race day. Have you been eating a slice of pepperoni pizza and drinking a can of soda every night before your long run? Have you been fueling with a certain type of energy-fuel packet? Did you just go shopping for a cool new outfit to wear on race day? Race day isn’t the time to try something new.  Once I wore a brand new pair of socks for a race because I figured it would be okay having worn the brand before. Halfway to the finish, my feet were not happy with me. In conclusion, I lost time at the aid stations trying to fix my irritated feet. Similarly, you don’t want to find out at mile 7 that your stomach didn’t like the new fuel packet you decided to try or that last night’s dinner didn’t fuel you properly to the finish line.


  • Quality sleep and hydration leading up to race day. The night and day before a new distance can be full of nerves! I find that my performance is best when I plan a few days before for quality sleep and optimal hydration. This is due to the fact that the day and night before the race, I get too nervous to sleep or drink as much water as I would like. It makes a huge difference to plan ahead.


  • Consider the weather and your race day outfit choices. 13.1 miles can be a long time to be out on your feet and the weather may warm up while you’re out running. If you’re looking at a cooler start on race morning, consider packing some gloves or a long sleeve to wear during your warm up or first few miles of the race. You can get rid of these items during the race when you are finally warmed up. General rule of thumb is to dress as though it is about 20 degrees warmer than what it actually will be because you’ll heat up fast. But remember rule number one I discussed earlier; make sure you’ve tried everything you plan to wear in advance!


  • Pre and Post race self care are very important!  Any new distance can be mentally and physically taxing so remember to consider your pre and post race needs. Here are a few things to remember; make sure you stretch and foam roll. Also, get in electrolytes before and after your event. And finally, let yourself have the headspace to prepare for the race.


  • Pace yourself. Being around other runners is always a blast but beware of race day adrenaline. Remind yourself at the start of the race to take it easy and allow yourself to settle into your race pace. You don’t want to burn out in the first few miles – you’ve got 13.1 of them to do! You may find it more comfortable to go into your first half marathon without the pressure of finishing under a certain time. Trust your training and run the race the way your body was trained to do.


  • Have fun!!  Don’t forget running is fun! It’s a great opportunity to meet people at the start line and on the course, take great race photos, and celebrate a new PR since it’s your first time tackling 13.1!

We hope to see you at The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon first or second half, July 28th!

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