minutes per mile blog

top 5 half marathon hacks

Morning! I’m still taking it easy after my race so have no sunrise photos for you, but I do have something that the Internet loves even more: a list.

During the 1.5 hours of my race the other day I thought of my top tips for running a half marathon. (or a full marathon, for that matter). Not your everyday tips either:these are my secret-to-success INSIDER HACKS, only finalized after running 12 half marathons! :) Most of them involve race day logistics — because the last thing you want to throw you off on race day is a silly logistical error.

1. Bring backup safety pins. Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to always lose or forget the safety pins given at the expo. Once I ran a whole marathon with only two corners of my bib pinned down — it was flapping everywhere during the race! So annoying. Now I bring backups just in case the expo safety pins fail. (This is me wincing at mile 25 because I hate my flappy bib so much)IMG_22102. Get a rental car with detachable keys. There is nothing mooooore annoying than having to carry a handful of huge car rental keys during a race (like I did during Zooma Annapolis). If you don’t have a buddy or bag drop to back you up, make sure you get a newer car that has those detachable key parts. The detachable parts are still bulky, but at least they typically fit into a pants/shorts pocket. 03011506413. Start a wave up. Work your way up to a wave that is slightly faster than your expected pace. You don’t want to waste time during the first couple miles weaving around people who are slower than you! Everyone does it. It’s okay to fudge your expected pace a little bit :) For example, during Rock ‘n’ Roll DC I was clearly in the Olympic men’s wave and that was juuuuust fine.rock_n_roll_dc_marathon_IMG_24234. Wear a throwaway top that zips up, not pulls over. Everyone knows to bring a throwaway jacket to wear at a chilly start line and ditch during the first couple miles. But the real secret to success is to make sure your throwaway top ZIPS down the middle, not pulls over your head. Running while pulling a top over your face is waaay too difficult to manage — and if you’re wearing headphones it gets even more tangled. Go with the zipper — you won’t regret it!

For example, check out the gorgeous 90s white puffy vest I found at Goodwill to wear during the Richmond marathon! It stripped off like a dream.IMG_54535. Request a late check-out. If you have to check out of your hotel the same day as the race, you might not have time for a post-race nap if you don’t get a late check-out. Most half marathons start at 6 or 7 am — so by the time you finish, mingle, eat, go back to the hotel, and shower… it’ll probably be at least 11 am. Ask for an extra hour or two so that you have time to rest a little!

Also, ask someone to push you in the hotel luggage cart so that you can get to your room faster.IMG_5463And that’s it!

Returning to our scheduled program…. dinner!slow_cooker_chicken_tikka_masala__DSC0215Since I was out of town for most of the weekend, Anthony was in charge of the groceries. He found a chicken tikka masala recipe in our Great American Slow Cooker cook book and put it on the Sunday night menu.slow_cooker_chicken_tikka_masala__DSC0216It was a hit! We loved it — especially the cucumber salad topping. Our only change in the future would be to use milk/cream over Greek yogurt as an add-in. The yogurt sort of separated in the hot mixture and gave it a tangier taste than your typical creamy curry-like dish.

Red wine to celebrate our one weekend evening together :)slow_cooker_chicken_tikka_masala_DSC0214And now I can’t believe it’s Tuesday already. Let’s hope this week continues to fly by. And don’t forget to add your own tips in the comments section!

  • Top secret half marathon/marathon tips?
  • Biggest race mistake you’ve ever made?
  • Favorite cook book?

12 thoughts on “top 5 half marathon hacks

  1. My favorite cook book is the Chef at Home book by Canadian TV chef, Michael Smith. Really easy to follow and delicious. Second favorite would by my Food Revolution cookbook by Jamie Oliver.

    Biggest mistake I’ve made in a race is not eating a bagel before a marathon. I need that carby goodness to absorb the GU gel stuff – otherwise bad things happen 😉

  2. These are great!! And I’m pretty sure i’ve tried them all :)

    Might I also add:
    – keep those emergency blankets they give out at the end of races, and then use them as an extra layer of warmth at the start of your next race!
    – if you are starting a vacation off with a race, wear some shoes that you are almost done with so you can just throw them out after the race! (don’t do this for a marathon though – youll need shoes with plenty of support left).

    Biggest race mistake I’ve made?
    – probably eating too much too late in the evening the night before a big race.
    – oh, and coming back from an overseas trip the week before a race. even a whole week out, getting used to my normal sleep schedule didn’t go very smoothly all week, and i felt like a zombie all race!

  3. Wearing a zip up throw away is always one of my favorite tips!
    Race mistake: not hydrating properly to race in the summer in the south.

  4. You have to temper the yogurt before adding it! Or lower the temperature of the sauce/let the yogurt come to room temperature! Or use full fat yogurt, it’s less likely to curdle. I don’t have any secret running tips. Only masala tips. The first picture of you is a true delight. I’m going to print a copy for my wallet right now.

  5. haha everyone loves a good list. These are nice out-of-the-box tips, especially the zipper tip. Once I removed a long-sleeved shirt that was under a short-sleeved shirt at mile 23. It gave me something to work on for a good half mile.

  6. One of the first 5Ks I did had run out of safety pins, so I had to beg some off other runners (who were very nice about it). Now I keep enough to supply an army in my car. I think people who look in my console think I’m nuts, but you just never know!

  7. I CRAVE nights like those with DJ. He’s not a wine person. Actually, he doesn’t drink. But I would love to get a fancy meal put together with some red wine and just sit together at our kitchen table (mental note: get a kitchen table…. actually… get a house with ROOM for a kitchen table) and discuss the day together. It would be so relaxing and special. You’re a lucky girl!


    • haha, having a table is an essential part of the equation :). dinner is one of anthony and i’s only time to talk during the day so we try to make it special!