Racing as a Part of Half (or Full!) Marathon Training (Guest Post)

11 Mar

Hey there. Since I’m getting a little R&R this week I’ve enlisted some of my favorite bloggers to provide guest posts for you!  First up is Sarah, who blogs at Sparkly Runner! This girl is a central PA runner like myself and just completed the Dopey Challenge as her first Marathon in January!


You’ve signed up for a half or full marathon. Congratulations! Now what?!?

Training. Lots and lots of training. If you’re anything like me, looking at a training plan for a distance race is both motivating and terrifying. I recently completed the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World and the training plan included some very long training runs!


I love everything about races- there are mile markers, water stops, bathrooms, cheering fans, medals, t-shirts- what’s not to love? However, most training runs don’t have any of those fun aspects of races. Most of the time, it’s just you and the road, slogging it out for miles and miles. Not to mention that during training runs, you have to carry your food, water, keys, etc. with you or plan your route so you’ll pass by the essentials. Let’s be honest- even though training is effective, sometimes it’s just not that fun. But, if you plan it right, you can use races for your training runs and get the best of both worlds.

At the beginning of Dopey training, the first thing I did was to look at the dates for all the scheduled long runs on the official runDisney training plan. All runDisney events feature an official training plan that can be downloaded as a PDF or right into your calendar. I chose to download it to my gmail calendar and then print it out so I could plan all six months of training. For anything over 10 miles, I looked for local races that would supply some or all of the distance scheduled. In some cases I rearranged the long run weekends to fit races.


For example, in October there was a scheduled 17 mile run on the 20th Marathon was going to happen on October 12th knew that there was the option to complete the Baltimore 5k at 8 am on the 12th the half marathon at 9:30 am on the same day thus getting 16.3 miles. After walking to and from the parking lot, I knew I’d reach 17 miles for the day. I would much rather run 17 miles of races than do it as a training run.


Local 5k and 10k races also were great to fit in to the schedule. When the mileage scheduled was longer than the race, I would just run more after the race to get in all the miles needed. This plan really helped to combat boredom during training and add to my race t-shirt collection.

In addition to all the great things about racing, completing races as part of your training can really help you to work through any race-day anxieties you may experience on your “big” race day. During Dopey training, I thought of every race as just another long, supported training run. This really helped me to learn how to handle many issues during the actual Dopey races. I was able to practice my fuel strategy, pacing, bathroom breaks, and running alongside thousands of other people- much like I would be doing in Walt Disney World. By incorporating races into my training, I was able to replicate the Dopey races much better than if I were just doing a training run.

Even if your half/full marathon doesn’t have an official training plan to follow, you can download one of many training plans and start working on fitting some races into the schedule. I’m a big fan of Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon. You can also start looking for local races. and your local running store are great places to get more information about your area’s events.

The best way to be prepared for your half or full marathon is to train. And a great way to train is to mimic the race-day environment as often as you can. Running races as a part of your training is an effective way to get the miles in and get all the fun benefits of racing.

Good luck and happy training!

ImageEven though she’s run over 50 races- including a marathon and 10 half marathons, Sarah still considers herself a newbie to the running world. What started as a way to lose weight in January 2010 has quickly become a lifestyle. Sarah lives with her 7-time marathoner boyfriend in central Pennsylvania but considers Walt Disney World to be her second home. When she’s not blogging at Sparkly Runner, she loves making new friends- you can find her on twitter or Instagram– both @sparklyrunner.


2 Responses to “Racing as a Part of Half (or Full!) Marathon Training (Guest Post)”

  1. Sara March 11, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Great post – I have always told myself that if I can make it through training healthy that I wanted to do a half in order to prepare for the full marathon. The key for me is staying healthy!

  2. specialkkluthe March 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    I did this for my 20-mile run in marathon training – ran 7 miles before the race on my own, and then did a half marathon with my hubby. It was great! But races are too expensive for me to make a habit of it…

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