Tips for Running a Half Marathon – The Busy Mom’s Guide

March 24, 2014

I decided that I needed an excuse to workout when my 3rd son was a few months old. With three kids, there are so many excuses I could give NOT to workout – the physical labor exerted on a daily basis to keep up with my sons being one of them. But I needed an outlet and running seemed like a good option. So I signed up for my first half marathon and ran it when my baby was 7 months old. And, in my post-run high, I signed up for another. I am no expert, but I have learned a few things along the way.  Here are tips for running a half marathon – according to a busy mom.

half marathon training

The Serious Tips:

1. Give yourself plenty of time to train especially if you only have time to run a few times per week. This will give you time to build your mileage slowly. I typically run 2-3 times per week and do a short, medium, and long run. I add one mile to each run every week and usually max out around 10-11 miles two weeks prior to race day. Some weeks are better than others. Some weeks my short run consists of me chasing my two year old around the house trying to get his shirt on. But that’s okay. If you are reading this it probably means you decided you want to do something for yourself. We aren’t trying to break any world records here – don’t be too hard on yourself. (Which reminds me – take everything I say for what it’s worth. These are amateur tips that happen to work for me.)

2. Don’t let long runs intimidate you. Sometimes I feel like HELL three miles into a long run and just want to stop. If I force myself to keep going 9 times out of 10 I feel better by the next mile because I have either a) settled into a nice rhythm, b) become numb and can’t feel my legs, or c) realized that this is my “alone time” and if I end this run now, my alone time is over…..usually that is enough to get me over the hump and keep going. Click here for a PRINTABLE TRAINING GUIDE!!

3. If you are training with a jogging stroller (a.k.a. “resistance training”) keep in mind these very official mileage conversions:

Single jogger: add one mile i.e. 5 miles really counts as 6 miles – and take 30-45 seconds off your pace

Double jogger: add 2 miles, i.e 5 miles really counts at 7 miles – and take 45-60 seconds off your pace

….or just have someone watch your kids and run alone.

4. Hydrate enough but not so much that you have to pee every 2 miles. Let’s be real, we all know that after having babies we have bladder “issues”. My advice? Pee like 5 times before you go for a run, plan your route near accessible bathrooms, and if all else fails….. wear black.

The Fun Stuff:

5. Rock out. Have a bangin’ playlist of music to listen to and update it regularly so you don’t get bored. This music is for YOU! There is no judgement, there is no one telling you to change the channel. This playlist is 100% whatever floats your boat. Here is a snippet of my current playlist for some inspiration:

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 8.37.40 PM

You are laughing about Black Cat aren’t you? Go ahead laugh, then put it on your playlist and see if it doesn’t amp you up just a little bit. #ilovethe80sandproudofit

6. Take your mind off the running. Back in my glory days I was a mid-distance runner and would literally plan out my thoughts for each 200 meters of my 800 meter race. I would do this to keep my mind off of the pain I was experiencing. Sounds lovely, right? But seriously, when you are running a 10 mile run, you have a LOT of time to think and NO ONE to interrupt your thoughts (yes, persistent 4 year old child I am talking about you). If you think about the run the whole time you will FEEEEEL the PAIN. I write blog posts in my head during my long runs, I think about what I want to make for dinner for the week, sometimes I think about my pony tail swaying the the breeze because hair feels no pain. Oh, and sometimes I pretend I am running naked through a jungle…… Weird, I know. But once you become a runner, you become a little weird. But anyway, try it. It’s sort of a liberating thought.

Dress the Part:

7. Invest in some cute running clothes. This is so lame and superficial, but if I am going to spend $30 on a babysitter just so I can go for an 8 mile run I damn well better feel good about how I look while I’m doing it. Oh, and its likely you won’t have time to shower after your run, but at least you will look “sporty chic” when you see other moms in carline pick up. Here are some of my favorites:

Or my favorite brand these days – Fabletics!

 8. Make sure you are prepared with the appropriate gear:

No, this is NOT a fanny pack! It’s a running belt. Big difference. And where else are you going to put your car keys? In the cleavage is no longer an option thanks the the children that sucked the life out of me, so a running belt is the obvious choice. (No really, breast-feeding is a beautiful thing and thanks to dedicating 30 months of my life to it I can say for damn well sure that I’m not getting any black eyes on my runs these days…….). Throw one of these in there as well and you are hands-free and ready to go:

Consider getting some running sleeves. Distance running requires some smart layering. These can easily be pulled off once you warm up and then tucked into your fanny pack running belt.

Before the Big Race:

9. Hydrate like a camel in the days prior to your race – especially the day before. You won’t want to drink too much the morning of the race (see number 8), but I am pretty sure what you drink the day before counts in my non-scientific/non-professional opinion. Of course you need to drink before and during the race, but pre-race day hydration is key.

10. Stay off your feet as much as possible the day prior to your race. Meaning, enlist your hubby to herd the sheep.

11. Don’t do anything different.  Don’t trick your body out by doing new things on account of the big race. Your body is about to be pushed to the limit, don’t add pressure by confusing it. If you normally enjoy a glass of wine at night, go for it. If you normally go to bed at 10pm, then do the same. If you normally drink coffee and eat a banana before a run, don’t switch it up now.

12. And one more piece of inspiration: If you gave birth to a child, you can run 13.1 miles. That is all.

Now. Who is ready to dust off them sneakers??

Need more running inspiration? Follow my Work it Out board on Pinterest!

Follow Sisters to Sons’s board Work it out. on Pinterest.

*Products in this post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a teeny-tiny commission if an item is purchased through my site. As always, thank you for contributing to my babysitting fund. 
  • Dutch
    March 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Love the tips and especially the playlist….. I need musical inspiration! ( to walk)!

  • Meg
    March 24, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I love these tips! I started to train last summer and lost steam around 8-9 mile runs but will give it another try. Especially love 2(c) and can’t wait to listen to some of your song choices on my next run!

    • Sisters to Sons
      March 26, 2014 at 11:09 am

      THanks, Meg! 2c is sometimes the biggest motivation 🙂

  • Natalie
    March 24, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    My absolute favorite part of this was the conversions. HAHA!!

  • Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife}
    March 25, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Truly great list of tips. I LOVED my half marathon experience. Some of those training runs were brutal, but I stuck to the plan like GLUE and it paid off. I met my goal time and had a blast. HAVE FUN!

  • Barb @ A Life in Balance
    March 25, 2014 at 9:27 am

    LOL – Now I’m going to plan my thoughts for those long runs!

    And yes, OMG, I always have to pee a million times before I do any running. My dh just laughs at me.

  • Jessica @EatSleepBe
    March 25, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Love these tips – and I could use a few new songs for the old playlist too. Thanks!

  • Jennifer @Making Our Life Matter
    March 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I so wish my knees could take running. I really would love a way to get active and have some “me time”. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  • Heather
    March 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Pharrell’s Happy is on my get pumped up list, too 🙂

  • Kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS
    March 25, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I love this post so much! I’m running Broad Street, but have actually fallen behind on getting to that point. I got to 8.7 in November but this year I haven’t gone past 5. Tomorrow I’m reaching for 6+. It’s my long run day. Do you think I need a water belt?

    • Sisters to Sons
      March 26, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Thanks, Kim! I have a water belt (Its the camelback brand) but I don’t love it. It rides up on my waist and drives me nuts. I would definitely recommend running with water if you are going more than 5 miles. Some of my friends have those water bottles with a strap that goes around your hand. I am going to try that next!

  • Carolyn Jennigns
    March 26, 2014 at 8:50 am

    These are some great tips! The playlist is great and I love the idea of getting some new cute workout clothes to motivate me. I’m no where near marathoning but am trying to get through the couch25k and this post was just what I needed to read!

    • Sisters to Sons
      March 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Thanks Carolyn!! What would we do with out music?!

  • Lauren Ros
    March 26, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Downloading playlist now…how you moms run with single and double (what!) jogging strollers is beyond me! I’m in awe. Great tips!

  • Kristin
    March 29, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I couldn’t have found you through SITS at a better time! I’ve recently decided I’d like to try a half in October (I have a free entry and I think I’d like a big goal this summer). Last summer, I went from not being able to run 3min straight to running my first 5K – it was a trail run too, so I’m excited to try a few more and see how they go.

    Thanks so much for these tips – I’m pinning them so I don’t forget. I had no idea that I should add miles after pushing with the double stroller. It’s a little rare that I get to run without the kids, but I make have to make sure to get some solo runs in this summer.

    I’d be super happy if you stop by this Tuesday (Monday night) to share this post at {Healthy} Tips and tricks Tuesday. If you stop by, feel free to link up any posts, not just tip posts, but anything people with a healthy living would be interested in. Thanks!

  • Ash Bear
    April 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Linds – Are you on Spotify? I want to follow you as I LOVE these songs! I totally just added some Janet Jackson to my playlist!

    • Sisters to Sons
      April 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Hey Ash! Yes I am on spotify but its under the hubbys name (we share an account!) let me know if you can’t find it!

  • Kate
    April 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    This has helped motivate me to start training for a half! Thanks!! Any chance those stroller conversions are actually really REAL? I’ve tried a couple runs with my 2 and 4.5 year olds and man is it ridiculously hard!

    • Sisters to Sons
      April 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Kate! I totally made them up but based on my time and “perceived” exertion… They seem about right to me! Just think.. You are pushing almost 60 lbs or more!

  • Hema
    December 15, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Your tips are bang on. Juggling with the second baby and my job I started running again last month. Loved your write up. Very funny and inspiring

  • Kelli
    January 28, 2015 at 12:50 am

    This is a great list! I love hearing tips from other “mother runners” – it’s always good to hear another perspective!

  • Jen
    January 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    LOVE this! Running another race soon.. this was a great list, thank you! And the humor was the cherry on top. I laughed out loud a couple times. Yes!

  • Dorothy
    June 21, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I just decided last week that I was going to finally register for my first half!! Thank you for this! It is very helpful!!

  • Tara
    August 22, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I just found this on Pinterest and it just made me so happy! I started running for the first time ever in April and I’m running a Disney half in November ….and then again in January (long story, basically I am crazy). I am about halfway through my training and it just feels so far off to be able to run 13 miles right now, but the last tip made me feel so much better! I did natural childbirth and that is a marathon in itself, so surely I can run 13.1 miles, right!? thanks for the confidence boost! 🙂

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