Half Marathon Race Day Tips: 3 Things Every First Timer Should Know

So you want to run your first half marathon?! Congrats! Here are a few half marathon race day tips to get you across that finish line.

Hi, my name is Laura Godlewski and I’m a #TeamBBP OG! I’ve been logging workouts with Lindsey and Amber from Chicago since day one and I love running. I’ve been running for about seven years and have completed many 5Ks, a handful of 10Ks, a marathon, five sprint distance triathlons, and two Olympic distance triathlons. Whew.

I was so excited to see that Lindsey and Amber signed up to participate in the Shape Women’s Half Marathon at the end of this month so I sent them a few of my top race-day tips and they asked me to share them in a guest post!

Here are my top three tips for running your first half marathon (or any distance really):

  1. Control Your Pace: It’s super tempting, but don’t start off too fast. I’m sure you’ve heard this and have experienced it in other races, but there’s a lot of energy right at the start line with all of the racers, announcers, music, and spectators — it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. I’d say find a pace that’s comfortable and similar to the pace you’ve been training at and then as the race goes on, you can always bump it up if you’re feeling good. I know I went out a little too hard the beginning of my marathon and felt like a star for the first half but that feeling quickly faded in the second half of the race. Listen to your body and do what feels right to you!
  2. Think Like A Champion: I think it’s helpful to go in with a mental game plan for what you’re going to think/tell yourself when the race stars getting challenging because you’re tired or sore. I ran with music in my marathon so that’s a huge thing for me when I need a boost. Some other ideas are having a mantra you repeat to yourself when it gets tough or thinking back to times in your training when you were challenged but pushed through. (I usually go to “just breathe” or “you are strong, you can do this.”) I’ve also heard of runners dedicating miles to important people in their lives to motivate them to get through it, which I think is cool!
  3. Enjoy every moment: You’ve put in the hard work and you’ve logged the training hours. Now it’s about getting out there, doing your personal best, and having some fun on race day. To me, one of the best parts of the race is waiting with all the people in your corral to start and looking around and soaking in that nervous but simultaneously excited energy. I get goosebumps every time I’m waiting to start a race! Interact with the spectators along the route, give high fives! It’s crazy how fast it goes by. This is something you’ve been working towards for several months so just enjoy every moment because it’s a huge accomplishment!


“I live boldly by trying new things, even when if it’s something scary or intimidating and then believing in myself every step of the way.”

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