Preparing for a Half-Marathon: 16 Things Women Should Know

Woman running a marathon

Written by the RunninGirls Community

Every woman has her own reason for running: time for herself, dreams of becoming a better runner or even using running as a means to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. We Runningirls believe that when we long to make our lives better through running, nothing can stop us!

Girls getting ready for a race

This year, the Vienna City Marathon will be the start of the season and focal race for us Runningirls from Moscow. Many of us will participate in the 10K as well as the half-marathon distance. We’ve put together knowledge that we wish we knew before our very first race and which will help you be as prepared as possible for your race.

16 things to know when preparing for a half marathon

1. Preparation is the key

It’s recommended to start training 14-16 weeks before the race and it’s essential to have a clear plan. You will find training plans for running a half marathon (with different time goals) in the Runtastic app.

2. Pace yourself

Don’t get caught up in what the other people around you are doing and how fast they are running. Don’t think to yourself, “Speed up, you’re a turtle.” Be a turtle, girl! You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

People running on the street

3. Tapering is important

Running more the days leading up to the race won’t do anything for your performance. Plus, your muscles have to rest before the loads of stress on race day. You should never forget to taper down your mileage before your race.

4. Don’t rush when you run

Go with the pace that you trained with. This slow and smooth pace will slow glycogen consumption, giving you a steady amount of energy throughout your race instead of becoming too exhausted too fast and needing to stop.

5. Water check

When you run have a small bottle of water with you or wear a hydration belt. But if you’re using a hydration belt, be sure that you’re using it during your training as well and not just on race day. About 200 ml every 20 minutes or so will do fine. This helps a lot with blood circulation and cellular function during this tough race.

Runner drinking water

6. Proper clothing

The basic rule is to never try out new things the day of a race. Wear the outfit you have trained in. Select your running shoes in advance, dress a little lighter than the weather, try out compression leggings or knee-highs during your training. They will keep your legs from swelling and will help them stay vein-free. We like to wear compression legwear for any running session longer than 5K. TIP: They’re easiest to put on when you’re lying down on your back.

7. Protect yourself from the sun

Cap, sunglasses and sunscreen! Make sure to use sunscreen with SPF over 30 in the summer (and spring). Apply the sunscreen at home 10-15 minutes before going out. Don’t forget! Sunscreen will save your skin from early aging and pigmentation changes. Have napkins with you to remove the sunscreen after the finish.

8. Start number holder

First of all, it’s nice and handy and you will be able to attach your start number to your waist or your hips. This ensures it’s always visible to the fans cheering for you (they will be able to read your name and support you) as well as to the race photographers. It’s always easier to find your photos by number after the race if the number is actually visible, right? Second, it’s safer than pinning the start number to your T-shirt.

9. Small running belts

These can be really helpful, but be sure you train with them if you plan on wearing them for your race. They are fixed like a belt and you can put your phone and extra hair band in there and maybe even a small snack.

10. Put your hair back securely

You can do a ponytail if your hair is long enough or maybe some braids. You want a hairstyle that securely keeps your hair out of your face, won’t come undone and, of course, looks good for the pictures. 🙂

Woman running

11. Talk test

We like to run and talk – we’re girls! However, we have found that this helps you find a good pace you can maintain for the entire half marathon. If you can talk without gasping for air and your pulse rate isn’t through the roof, there’s a good chance you’ll make it to the finish line with that pace. Additionally, you can wear a heart rate monitor if you like – but of course you need to train with it and get to know your hardware products as well.

12. No whining

The majority of the time, our brain deceives us and tells us that we are tired. Your body can actually go much further than your mind thinks. Do no rely upon these signals unless, of course, you have a serious and specific pain. If you’ve completed a proper training regimen, you will make it to the finish line.

13. Walking takes more time

If you’re dying to walk, remember that it’s not a walk – it’s a race, meaning that distance is time. If you walk, the mileage won’t change, but your time and exhaustion certainly will. Get it done – you’re ready for it!

14. Be mindful of energy gels

Make sure to actually try them on long runs before the race (not everyone’s digestive system can tolerate them). If you use them, you can fuel up every 7K or 45 minutes. We are not a fan of gels with caffeine. You will feel a boost of energy in 5-7 minutes due to the reviving carbs in the energy gel.

15. No gels? No problem

If your body doesn’t like the energy gels, don’t eat the energy gels. Half of a banana or a bite of chocolate or these energizing cookies can also do the trick. We usually eat around 3 bites at every training station.

16. Smile!

We’ve got pictures to remember every race! Do you?

See you at the finish!

With love,


About RunninGirls:

The RunninGirls community was created by girls, for girls. We are there to support and inspire each other – especially when getting started. Running with us is not meant to be intimidating or scary…even if it’s just your first kilometer. As a group, we’re proud to track and share our activities with the Runtastic app! Follow and get connected with the RunninGirls on Instagram and Facebook!



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