*Co-written by Emily Cooper and Gabi Falk*
At college, we’re always busy whether we are doing homework, studying, or staring at our screens, so it’s important to find methods of de-stressing that work with your lifestyle. Many college students find themselves utilizing running as an outlet to disconnect, release stress, and clear their mind.
For the dedicated runners out there, you may find yourself wanting to run a half or full marathon. Running your first half marathon may seem intimidating and near impossible, especially as a college student. We are here to tell you that it is more than possible and can even be fun if you run with a buddy and a great way to add structure to your crazy college schedule.
Oct. 20, 2019; we ran our first half marathon in Bethlehem, PA. Neither of us knew what to expect, or what we were getting ourselves into. Crossing the finish line, we realized all our hard work and training had paid off. We now plan to make running races together an ongoing tradition. It was a huge accomplishment that we will always remember.
We want to share with you how we successfully ran our first half marathon, so you can go find one in your collegetown and have this amazing experience for yourself.
Find a running partner
Running with your best friend can turn the daunting running experience into a fun and fit way to spend time together. When you are tired, want to stop and feel like your legs have turned into Jell-O, your friends perseverance will motivate you to keep moving.
Running with a friend is a great way to build in quality time since you can use your runs as a way to catch up. There’s nothing better than working towards a goal with one of your besties, and it will always be a fond memory to look back on together.
Structure your time and workouts
Sticking to a structured plan is the best way to successfully train. We signed up for our half marathon in August, and had three months to get ourselves in adequate running shape. Your training schedule may vary from ours based on your race day and past running experiences. Keeping a consistent workout schedule is key to ensuring effective and safe training.
We would follow the schedule of one long run (about 6-9 miles) and three to four shorter runs (2-4 miles), with additional weight training integrated throughout the week. Make sure you start your training program with shorter long runs (about 5 miles) and work your way up to longer mileage (about 9 miles before race day) to ensure successful runs. The day after your long run make sure you rest, hydrate, and stretch so that you don’t overwork your body.
It’s also important to find a pace you can maintain for the full 13.1 miles. With the help of your running partner and countless running apps that announce your current speed and distance, you can make sure you keep the right pace so you don’t burn out too early. On race day, there will be pace keepers that will run with you to help you accomplish your ultimate pace goal.
For your last week of training before the race, make sure to take it easy on your body and only do a few short runs throughout the week. The day before your half marathon, drink tons of water and eat as much pasta you can to make sure that you’re fueled throughout your race.
Make the experience fun!
We loved exploring our college town throughout our runs, and finding new places to workout outdoors. Since we go to school on the side of an actual mountain, finding flat running ground was not always easy, but we were still able to find running paths to train on.
Make a collaborative playlist and add motivating music throughout your training experience. These songs will become your running anthem and push you to the finish line on race day (we ran sharing a set of airpods, with one pod per person). The shared airpods will become a pace keeping hack! It made sure we kept our pace and stayed together, because otherwise the music disconnected.
Invite your friends and family to come cheer you on during your race. There will be no greater motivator than seeing their smiling faces shouting words of encouragement. We will always laugh about Gabi’s mom running alongside us on the course, trying to capture the perfect action shot.
After you cross the finish line, snap a cute photo to remember the experience, (even though you might be sweaty and smelly) go out for brunch with your family and eat everything your heart desires, then pass out for a long nap, savoring the joy of the day.