Your First Half Marathon: Less is More

Your First Half Marathon: Less is More

Your First Half Marathon: Less is More

Running Without Misery: Introduction

New to exercise and can’t imagine mastering your first half marathon? Want to run, but afraid to rev up your engines because you think you’ll wreck your joints? Were you a runner when you were younger, but lost your running mojo due to injuries or life responsibilities?

Leading up to the Shape Half Marathon on April 30 (which I am running with four of my clients), my weekly blog posts will be chock-full of strategies to help you prep for a new long-distances race, whether it’s a 5K, 10K, or half marathon, with a safe, strong, and – most importantly – mentally robust running plan.

A little bit of background on myself… I am a certified personal trainer that trains new-ish runners, and my main demographic is women in their mid-to-late-40’s with kids who have spent the last decade taking care of other people and juggling life responsibilities. By the time they fill out my online form, they are ready to focus on themselves again, and a very common goal is long distance running – specifically a half-marathon. However, they often start as true beginners, or are very rusty from a few (or more) “off-years.” Most of my clients have never run a half marathon, and some have not even run a 5K. Many are scared when they start training.

Now, four of my clients are going to run the Shape Half Marathon next month, and – I kid you not – these were women who (under my guidance) started off with 30-seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking. Flash forward to the present. One of my clients, who is a 45-year-old mother of three, will probably run the race in less than 2:30 for her first half marathon. One of my other clients who will also run the Shape Half is now running her third half marathon this year and is registered to run the New York City Marathon this fall, and we started working together last year when she was barely out of the boot from a broken foot! Now, I am confident that she will be close to (if not under) two hours when she races the half in April.

I work with real people. I don’t train high-level athletes or former Olympians. And these people go pretty much from zero running to extremely respectable half marathon times by using smart strategies and a structured plan. Even more importantly, they run without injury. I’m not claiming that my clients are running at professional or record-breaking speeds, but my cohort of trainees will certainly be towards the front of the overall pack, because of an intelligent “Less is More” game plan.

Why do I advocate “Less is More” for your first half marathon?

Most running plans you find online will make you unfit to run. Unless you are an outlier – a “natural” runner who is “built to run” and is seemingly impervious to injury – logging too many miles too quickly is only going to set you back in your training.

“Less is More” allows you to be the Goldilocks of training – to run just the right amount of miles to successfully set PR’s, maximize the weight management benefits of running, and protect your joints.

Your body doesn’t crave a set routine that it does every single day – it actually needs structured variety. The structure allows you to make progress within a framework, but the variety allows for recovery and growth.

Finally, I advocate the “Less is More” strategy because exercise science is greatly about maximizing results while minimizing risk. Many, many runners get injured while race training, because they haven’t minimized the risks. And once the risks catch up with you – usually in the form of injury or an inability to recover – your results go down the toilet.

And now, over the next four weeks leading up to the half marathon, I’m going to spill some of my own running secrets so that you, too, can use a “Less is More” approach to running that will seriously maximize your miles! I will also be sharing a bunch of random “secrets” – ranging from toenail management to nutrition – that you may find helpful!

These “secrets” are going to be split into four sections:

  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Gear
  • Mindset and Self-Care

So stay tuned, and check back in each week for more running tips that will help you conquer your first long race!

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Rachel Trotta
Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Rachel Trotta is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. She lives and works on the Upper West Side of New York City. With a focus on physique and weight loss for women, long-distance running performance, and injury prevention, Rachel creates training plans that are unique to each client's needs. She has also written for MindBodyGreen, Tiny Buddha, Work Awesome, The Epoch Times (NY), and more. Rachel lives with her husband, composer Michael John Trotta, in NYC.

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