How I Went from a Non-Runner to Running a Half Marathon

How I went from not being able to run a mile to running a half marathon—and I enjoyed it!

Training for a half marathon, people running


I wasn’t born a runner—I dreaded the timed mile we were required to do in eighth grade. And if you’re reading this, maybe you can relate.


But in 2017, the girl who came in almost last in eighth grade ran every bit of a 13.1-mile race. This is how I turned my non-runner mentality and body into a half-marathoner. Hopefully some aspects of my journey can be helpful to you.  

Just get out there

The hardest battle is putting on your shoes and going. If finding the motivation is too hard, tell yourself you’re going to go on a walk. Set a timer for 30 minutes and walk briskly. You might decide you want to jog occasionally—or you might not. For the first week, getting in the habit of setting aside time and treating your body with some gentle exercise will ease you into it.   

Don’t be ashamed of your skill level  

For whatever reason, I used to feel the need to tell people how terrible I was at running. I was embarrassed about how slow I was, and I couldn’t run a mile without training (even though it seemed everyone else could).  

A key to finally getting over that hurdle was to stop being embarrassed of how “bad” I was at running. After a run, no matter how short it was, I would congratulate myself for just getting out there. I decided I was okay with where I was because I was working on improving.   

Sign up for a race  

Sign up for a race before you’re in shape for it. It helps give you the motivation to meet that deadline, because busting out a half marathon without training for it just wasn’t an option for me. I don’t like wasting money, so I signed up for the race and had to commit to training months in advance.  

Related: What's My Impossible? Getting in to Graduate School   

Find a training schedule that works for you  

The Couch to 5K app saved me. There are plenty of free training schedules online, but they all felt too overwhelming—because most of them assumed I could already run a few miles. If you’re like me, I loved the Couch to 5K app (it’s free), because it starts easy (jog for 60 seconds, then walk for 90 seconds, switching off for 30 minutes). If that’s too simple, you can always jump ahead a few weeks to help you get to your first 5k. After that, I used a half-marathon training schedule for beginners to work up to 13 miles.   

Identify what type of running scenery you prefer

Some people are motivated by mountain trails. Others prefer pavement, tracks, or treadmills. I prefer letting my mind wander and not worrying about where I’m going. Tracks are easiest for me, but because I also like being outside with some scenery, I found an outdoor loop where I could mindlessly run. I knew it was three miles, which helped me pace myself. Find what environment fits your running style best.  

Start with a smaller race first  

My sister encouraged me to do a 5k with her a few years before I did the half. At that time, a 5k seemed almost impossible, but once I’d done it, I knew I could run more than I thought. So, I worked up to a 10k. Realizing your body can do so much more than your brain tells you is a powerful realization.   

Find the right running buddy  

Find someone who has a similar pace, expectations, and goals as you. I was never comfortable running with anyone except my sister and my husband. They both pushed me a little farther than I wanted to go (and sometimes I pushed them), but they were also respectful when I needed to stop.  

Having a running buddy was essential to stay disciplined. If you can’t find someone to run with, find someone who can hold you accountable.  

Related: What's My Impossible? Managing Depression  

Listen to some good podcasts

Find something you love listening to and only let yourself listen when you exercise. When I was training for my half marathon, I soon learned listening to “Harry Potter” was way better at carrying me through an eight-mile run than “Crucial Conversations.”   

Lately, I’ve been more of a music gal and have been exploring some great (as well as not-so-great) running playlists. Whatever it is, treat yourself when you run.   

Refuel after your run 

I choose chocolate milk because it helps rebuild muscles after a workout. I drank chocolate milk after my runs, and the thought of that treat at the end helped me get through many runs. Yum.  

Thank your body

I started a habit of being grateful for my body, and it helped me focus on something positive. As I ran, I imagined all the things my body was doing to make that motion possible. I would thank it for each individual movement. I showed my gratitude for all it does by treating it right through exercising. It sounds silly, but it’s powerful.  

Throughout this process, I learned I can do harder things than I thought I could—and you can too!   

Have you run a half marathon or a 10k? Tell us about it on Facebook—we’d love to hear from you! And while you’re here, check out our other articles on healthy living.

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