Heading Into Week 5: My Dad’s Half Marathon Tips

As the time leapt forward today, so did my long run. My multi-marathon-running dad and I finished a 9 mile run (eeeek such an exciting distance!) in preparation for the half marathon, and along the way, he shared his running tips.

My dad and I after 9 miles on the trail.

My dad and I after 9 miles on the trail.

And though he told me that training for a half or full marathon is like raising a baby — there a few basic rules, but every one is different — I thought I’d share his advice with you. (And please leave your own Half Marathon tips in the comments!) But first, I’ll give you a quick run-down of how I did last week and my plan for this week.

Last Week In Review

Planned Schedule
Monday: No running, 5:15 Boot Camp at Panthro Fitness
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: No running, 5:15 Boot Camp
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Day Of Rest!
Saturday: 2 or 3 miles
Sunday: 8 miles

Actual Schedule
Monday: No working out 😦
Tuesday: No working out 😦
Wednesday: No running, 5:15 Boot Camp
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: No running, 5:15 Boot Camp
Saturday: 3 miles
Sunday: 9 miles

So while I ran farther on my long run than I had planned (which is very exciting to me), I really fell off of the proverbial training wagon on Monday and Tuesday. I worked late both days, and I just couldn’t motivate myself to wake up early and get my run on. Ah well, another week, another chance to rock.

Next Week’s Plan:

Monday: Day of Rest
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: No running, 5:15 Boot Camp
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: No running, 5:15 Boot Camp
Saturday: 3 miles
Sunday: 9 miles

I know, I know, it looks eerily similar to last week’s actual schedule, but with an extra running day on Tuesday. With two months until the race, it’s better to work on becoming confident in my miles rather than pointlessly forging ahead, or so my dad said. Which brings me to:

Topic of the Week: My Dad’s Running Tips

This is not our first run together. Here we are sliding down the finish of the Ruckus obstacle mud run!

The Half will not be our first daddy-daughter run. Here we are sliding down the finish of the Ruckus obstacle mud run!

No one person’s advice works for everyone, but seeing as my dad has run several half marathons, triathlons, and over a dozen marathons, I figure his advice is worth listening to. (A daughter actually taking her father’s advice?! I bet he never thought this day would come.)

To give you his tips, I selected my five favorites with his words followed by my explanation (labeled “why”), then I provided a few of his words of wisdom in bite-sized bullet points, so you can take away any and all of the tips you’d like.

Never miss your long run or your anaerobic interval training. The long run is essential for teaching your body to withstand long distances and to burn energy efficiently. And the anaerobic training (such as sprints, hills, or interval bootcamps) teaches your body to use oxygen efficiently.
Why This Advice Matters (in my words): On those weeks where I am just dragging myself, like this past week, it’s important to know what parts of training should be my top priority.

Never do anything on race day that you haven’t trained for or with. For example: If you are carrying gels on race day, practice with them on long runs, so you know what it feels like to run as you tear them open and guzzle them down. (I added the guzzling part, I’m sure he would not advise that.)
Why: On race day (it’s even like this at 5ks I’ve run), it’s exciting to try out a new running belt or those free gels, because it’s race day and you feel ALIVE! But, on mile 11, when that belt is chafing and your gel is splattered across your shirt, you won’t be so enthused.

My dad and I not in run mode. So you have proof of my life outside of training.

My dad and I not in run mode. So you have proof of my life outside of training.

When you run hills, shorten your stride, but never slow your tempo. Keeping your rhythm is essential to a strong (and hopefully quick) recovery.
Why: Hills are the worst. Anything I can think about that isn’t “I hate this and want to cry,” makes running them better.

On race day, start out your run going slower than you feel you should. Since it’s race day and your adrenaline is pumping, your body will automatically want to run faster than normal, but if you slow yourself down, you will most likely wind up running your normal training pace.
Why: I am a girl who is easily over-excited. Anything that keeps me from crashing in the last few miles is good by me.

A Half Marathon is really 2 races: A 10-mile fun run and a really hard 5k. Try to finish strong. It’s all about how you feel when you hit that 10-mile marker. If you feel energized, you can hopefully finish strong. If you started out too fast, you will probably have to survival shuffle across the finish, which no one wants to do but has happened to all runners at some point in their careers.
Why: First of all, I am learning so many cool new running phrase like “survivor shuffle”-ing, which is essentially dragging yourself across the finish. Related terms: “Hitting the wall” or “blowing up,” which is what happens right before the survivor shuffle begins. It happened to my dad during his first two marathons. And although it’s not a pleasant thought, it’s kind of comforting to know that even if I’m dragging myself across the finish line (knock on wood that I won’t), many runners have done it before.

A few other helpful father-to-daughter tidbits:
–Don’t overtrain in the name of sticking to your schedule.
–If you’re really breathing hard (like on a hill) take a 3-second inhale followed by a fast, hard exhalation.
–If it’s cold outside, it’s best to start out your run feeling cold rather than feeling comfortable. You don’t want to wind-up over-heated later.
–It’s best to master the distance you’re running (like 9 miles for me) than to move on to the next mile without confidence.
–Some days are just bad running days (just pray it’s not a race day).

Please take these pieces of advice with you (if any of them tickle your fancy), and share with me: What are your best running tips and tricks?

Thanks Dad, for all of your advice! (I bet he never thought I’d say that either.)

Until next week,


5 thoughts on “Heading Into Week 5: My Dad’s Half Marathon Tips

  1. Good tips from your Dad! I would also suggest walking through the water stops. It allows you to fuel/hydrate properly and gives you a little break. Don’t worry about it slowing you down. I PR’rd the first time I tried it!

    • Thanks Sarah, that’s a great tip! I always wondered how people drank water on the run … I pictured this really awkward, flailing guzzle haha. And thanks for keeping up with the blog. I really appreciate the tutelage of veteran runners!

  2. Very good advise and tips 🙂 I am training for my second marathon (first Pitt one) but when I had questions I always asked my dad. He ran NYC 5x, Boston twice so I knew he would be a wealth of information and advise. Yea you will have crappy running days. I got injuried twice so was very worried I wouldn’t get my mileage in and be able to run 26.2, but everyone said your body will remember the distance (muscle menory) just trust your training. Good luck with your training and half marathon!

    • Thank you Brooke! And it’s nice to hear that someone else turns to their father for running advice haha. Congrats on your second marathon (that is amazing to me), and best of luck!!

  3. Great tips from your dad! It’s so true that the race is really like 2 races. It never fails, mile ten is where I always seem to hit the wall. I wonder if anyone has any tips for avoiding this?

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