The Crucial Keys to a Successful First Half Marathon

They say you never get a second chance to run your first half marathon.

Alright, maybe they don’t, but they should.

Your first big race — whether it’s a half, a full, or something else — can be a downright unforgettable experience, one in which you learn on a deep level when you cross that finish line that you’re capable of something that you may very well have thought impossible before.

Or it can be unforgettable for other reasons — like endless Porta-Pot stops due to nerves, a bad bonk when your adrenaline gets the best of you in the excitement of the start, or worst of all, the humiliation of failing to finish the race you trained so hard for.

My problem during my first marathon, 10 years ago now, was #2. (That is, the second thing I listed — nothing to do with Porta-Pots, thank you very much.)

But first races don’t all end up so distastrously: NMA’s own Ben Benulis, relative-newbie runner, just ran his first half marathon last Saturday in San Antonio, Texas, and it was an absolute success. No stomach issues, no bonks, and medal around his neck at the end of it. In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, I sat down with Ben to talk to him about what he did to make his first half marathon such a success. If you’re thinking about running your first half marathon in 2012, you won’t want to miss this one.

In this episode Ben and I talk about:

  • How long you need to train for your first half marathon
  • The time commitment half marathon training requires
  • How to fit strength training into a half marathon training program
  • The importance of being flexible in your approach (even when it means skipping runs)
  • How the fruitarian diet helped Ben during his training
  • How Ben got a sense for his body’s “different gears” to find his race pace

And at the end, I share a few details about what we’re planning for our No Meat Athlete training group for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and Half in Washington, DC next March. (It’s St. Patrick’s day, so as Susan pointed out, even if the whole thing is a disaster, at least there will be green beer.)

Click the button below to listen now:

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Links from the show:

As always, if you like the show, please help us out by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes (visit our iTunes page and hit the blue “View in iTunes” button). Thanks!

Got a question for Ben about his first half marathon? Leave it in the comments below and he’ll answer it.



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  1. Kristy Doyle says:

    I LOVE the idea to train together for the Rock n Roll 1/2!!! I’m in!!

  2. Good job guys, it gets better each time!

  3. I’d already signed up for the DC Half so this is too perfect!

  4. When you talk about half-marathon training in the beginning, I think you’re blowing the whole thing way out of proportion.

    In July, completely out of shape, having barely run for about 10 months, I started running again. I completed my first half-marathon in mid-September, about 10 weeks later. Took me about 2:54 to do it and the last third was _really_ hard, but I did it.

    Injuries weren’t a problem. I attribute this to running in Vibrams, paying attention to my form and having walked around barefoot most of that summer (strengthening my feet).

    I’m not writing this to boast (and my time is hardly boast-worthy 🙂 ). I just feel most people have far too much respect for distances that are really not that long, if you look at the big picture.

    Running is great! People should do it more and not be afraid to sign up for a few 10k or half-marathons. Just learn about good form first and don’t be afraid to start at the end of the field and run your own race 🙂

  5. I wish I lived closer in order to participate in the March training group. If not for the race itself at least for the vegan bakery treats!! Sounds like a blast.

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