6 Commonly Asked Questions About Half Marathon Racing

If you’ve been training for a half marathon, you may be feeling a little nervous and have some pre-race questions and concerns. To help calm your nerves and ease some of your fears, get answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions about running a half marathon.


Should You Wear New Running Shoes for a Half Marathon?

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Since you've been training for a half marathon, you're probably already aware that you shouldn't run in old, worn-out running shoes. During training, you should be replacing your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles.

When it comes to race day, it's not a good idea to run in old running shoes or brand new ones. You should wear shoes that have about 40 to 50 miles on them, so they still have most of their cushioning left. So, you can buy a new pair of running shoes about three weeks before your race and do several short runs and one longer run in them. If you've been happy with the running shoes you've worn during training, get another pair of the same ones for your race. There's no reason to change anything or experiment with something new. “Nothing new on race day” is a good rule to stick to.

Also, don't wear your race day shoes the day before the race because they won't have time to decompress before your race. Wear a different pair of running shoes or very comfortable shoes when walking around the day before your race.


Should You Run the Day Before a Half Marathon?

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This isn’t really a yes or no answer. Some runners like to relax and not run the day before a half marathon so they feel fresh and ready when they get to the starting line. But other runners swear by doing an easy 20-minute run the day before a half marathon to help stay loose and shake out their nerves.

So, you really need to do what works best for you. If you're the type of person who gets race anxiety, it might be helpful for you to do a very slow, 20-minute jog the day before. But if you think you perform better on rest, then just relax during those 24 hours leading up to the half marathon. Whatever you do, just make sure that you don't do a long or intense hard workout, like a long run, speed workout, or strength training, that's going to leave you feeling tired or sore the next day. Keep it short and easy in the few days leading up to your half marathon.


Should You Eat Before a Half Marathon?

Penaut butter and blueberry jam bagel
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Yes, you should definitely make sure you eat something before the race. Most half marathons are held in the morning, so if you don’t eat anything for breakfast, it will have been many hours since your last meal. It’s important to time your meal properly. You don’t want to eat immediately before your race because that may lead to cramping or side stitches. Your best bet is to eat a snack or light meal about 1 1/2 to 2 hours before you start running.

Pick something high in carbohydrates and lower in fat, fiber, and protein. Some examples of good pre-workout fuel include a bagel with peanut butter; turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread; a banana and an energy bar; or a bowl of cold cereal with a cup of milk. Stay away from rich, very fatty, or high-fiber foods, as they may cause gastrointestinal distress.


How Can You Predict Your Half Marathon Time?

Successful marathon runner crossing the finish line with arms raised.
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Predicting your half marathon can be tough, since there are so many variables in racing, such as physical and mental preparation for the race, weather, elevation on the course, crowds, etc.

To get a rough estimate of what you’re capable of running, you need to have run a recent shorter distance race (which is a good idea to get ready for your half marathon, anyway).


Are You Allowed to Walk During a Half Marathon?

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Yes, walking is definitely allowed during a half marathon.  You may even want to plan to take walk breaks to give yourself a physical and mental break. A short walk interval can also break up the monotony during a race, which can help you deal with the mental challenges and any discomfort you may be feeling.
Of course, if you plan to walk the majority of your race, you should make sure that the race you sign up for is walker-friendly. Some half marathons have cut-off times, a time limit by which all participants must have crossed the finish line.


How Can You Deal With Discomfort During the Half Marathon?

Tired Young Woman Walking On Road Foggy Weather
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Yes, it's definitely possible that you'll feel some pain or discomfort during the 13.1 miles. Do whatever it takes to keep your mind occupied: Sing songs, play mental games, count people, talk to other runners. Focus on what the spectators are cheering and reading their signs. Give yourself a little pep talk – whether it’s out loud or in your head. Keep repeating your running mantras.

Try some of these other tips for digging deeper during runs.

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