How To Prepare To Run A Half Marathon

A sample training guide for preparing to run a half marathon.

First of all, I did IT! I did the d@#! thing, I ran my first Half Marathon! AND I am so proud… for a few reasons.

Was it hard training for a half marathon? Yes, it was! I was challenged almost every day and numerous times, but I set a goal and when I set goals, I want to reach them… don’t we all?

I am not a big fan of giving up, it hurts… unless of course for health reasons.

Training started for me back in May. I started with small runs, which led to my bigger runs. I broke my schedule down to even include my average pace times, etc.

I got that idea from a friend of mine and it really helped me better my timings and improve. I repeated my schedule once I got through it once, repeating the long-distance runs, weeks 11-15. 

*See a copy of my training schedule below* Also linked here.

I have never trained for something as intense as this, by myself. With a lot of research {thanks to fellow bloggers, Google search engine and more} and reading, I was able to figure things out on my own.

I learned a lot about this entire experience, from food choices pre and post-run, to continue to strength train while still running and just how dedicated/committed I needed to be.


One thing I found that really worked for me was always carrying either Gatorade or Hydrate in a water bottle, and having some candies stashed in my pocket. I remember reading somewhere that a little sugar can help you keep going.

Well, it surely worked for me. When my runs started getting longer, I started adding in the candy. At about 5KM I’d have candy and then have another about every 2-4KM after that. It’s like I knew when I needed that candy, and I could feel it when the sugar kicked in because my pace would stay steady!

Also, fuelling your body the right way before long runs is VERY important.


When registration came in May I actually only registered myself for the 10 Kilometer race. When I signed up, I made it a goal of mine to re-signup for the HALF MARATHON and I did just that… a few weeks before the race.

Training for me was good, I wouldn’t say PERFECT… because nothing is perfect {well at least not in my world}, but as life seems to treat me with more bad luck than good, of course, I’d be faced with SO many challenges along the way.

One of the BIGGEST obstacles occurred 4 days before my big RACE. I had finished my last long-distance run before the big event to only start having some major pain in my right foot {the outer, bottom portion}, a pain I have never had before.

I was devastated… I mean how could this happen to me a few days before race day?

I reached out to fellow runners, my brother who is an Athletic Therapist and the internet to try and get some stretching ideas and methods to help the problem and I started implementing them right away.

I woke up 3 days before the race and that day on my training schedule, was supposed to be a short steady run, but my foot was sorer than the day before… So, I chose not to go for my run but to focus on getting my foot better in time. I was starting to get nervous thinking that this may actually hold me back from doing the race because obviously, I didn’t want to make my injury worse.

Fast forward to the day before the pain was gone… I continued to stretch and ice, just to be sure!


Race day came; I woke up excited and nervous! Kicked off the morning with oatmeal, peanut butter, a banana, and coffee. Gathered my thoughts {positive vibes} grabbed my gear and out the door… brrr, it was FREEZING! Try -6 degrees Celsius.

The first few kilometres of the race I felt like I was not going to be able to make it. It was freezing cold, the cold temperatures were getting to me, and even though I was dressed for the cold, my hands would not warm up. I was about 4K in before I was fully comfortable and my body felt warm.

Then came the hill…. the most dreaded part. One thing with this race is that everyone got to know the route before race day. I chose not to run the route before the race because I didn’t want to try and outdo myself {if you get what I am saying… I didn’t wanna know just how hard it was, lol}. Knowing beforehand would only play on my mind and work myself over nothing.

What I thought was a short hill, was actually a much bigger hill that levelled off at the top and then continued to climb. I was so thankful when that was over. I remember saying to myself… “thank God that is over with“!

There were people who came from all over to do this race, and they said it was the HARDEST race they have ever done! I’ll take doing the hardest one as my first one to complete, haha!

At about 8K I started to replenish with some Endurance tap, Natural Energy {Pure Canadian Maple Syrup}, a few squirts at a time to savour it. I also had my little safety net water bottle with Hydrate Performance in it, to keep those electrolytes following.

When I hit the 16K mark, I started to feel my legs tense up, I felt some major cramping in my stomach and thought… seriously? I immediately took control and told myself that “you’ve come too far to quit now, only 5K to go”. I kept playing a few songs over in my head to get me to the finish line, Whatever It Takes – Imagine Dragons, Champion – Carrie Underwood and Timber – Pitbull, in my head until I got to the finish line… and I did IT!


As I crossed the finish line, a little boy was there saying, “yay, you did it! Congrats!” holding a completion medal for me. It was the best feeling ever crossing that line! I felt like a champion in my own little world, running in at 2hour 7min, running 21.1KM, placing 56th overall out of 170 and 9th in my category!

I have to say everything about training, the race, and now post-race {I am writing this from my couch where I haven’t moved since I showered because I’m beat} has been amazing. So many challenges along the entire journey, from day one of training right to the finish line on race day. I wouldn’t change a thing about the entire process. I’m actually sad that all the training is over, and I’m kinda at a loss as to what to do or where to go next! The past few months revolved around this race/training and now it is over.

If you’ve ever thought about doing a marathon, but keep holding yourself back… just DO IT 🙂

This information is not to be taken as medical, nutritional, certified or professional advice. This information provided here is what works for Heather Barrett. Please see the FAQ for a full disclaimer.

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