How I Ran 13.1 Miles: A Half-Marathon Story (2023)

Picture this: I am fifteen years old, huffing and panting on the green lawn of a South Miami park. I have just run the standard American P.E. one-mile test. These symptoms of dry heaving and a tight chest will soon become a part of my weekly high school routine.

My freshman year gym teacher was an intense person to say the least. He was a military man who wore cargo shorts every day without fail, and followed the strict set of rules for peak physical fitness in the Miami Dade County Public School Handbook. This meant that he took our one-credit, required physical fitness class very seriously. Maybe this weekly one-mile fitness test was routine, and I was simply an out of shape high schooler, but none of my other friends ran “the mile” weekly, so I felt singled out and punished by this requirement mandated by my school. When you’re fifteen years old, everything is a matter of life or death and the world seems unfair in all aspects. You can imagine how this mentality coupled with these gym class circumstances truly made me feel like my life was over.

Fast forward to now: I’m twenty-two years old, a senior on the brink of graduating college, and I’ve run a half marathon. Oh, also, I run for fun and genuinely enjoy the way I feel when I do. Alright, pause. A lot had to happen between my freshman year of high school and my senior year of college for me to even be able to utter those words without them being a lie. Over the course of my schooling in Miami, working out and being more active slowly crept its way into my life, embedding itself into my weekly routine.

It could be the fact that living in a tropical climate means short shorts and bikinis all year long, but my mom was truly the person who inspired me to get my body moving. She was a fitness trainer in the 80’s and 90’s— think Jane Fonda workout videos, leg warmers and neon-colored leotards. She went on to dabble in powerlifting and switched gears from aerobics and scrunchies to weight belts and training gloves. She always seemed to be glowing after the gym, and she went almost every day without question. For her, it was not even an option to consider NOT going to the gym. What I appreciated about her commitment the most was the fact that she didn’t go to the gym to look a certain way or to stair-step off her lunch from the day before — she spent her life in the gym because she genuinely enjoyed it and craved those post-workout endorphins. Not only that but she truly built a community at her gym, making friends with the front desk attendants and bringing birthday gifts to her buddies at the bench presses. I felt inspired by her! I wanted cool gym friends and a rush of endorphins after sweating a whole bunch. It seemed easy enough from afar.

I started going to my local gym and hiding in the back corners to do my YouTube ab workouts (which, by the way, do not work if you want to get defined abs, but they will definitely improve your posture). Timidly working my way to the more crowded areas of the space: the barbells, the cable row machine and the pull-up bar. By my junior year of high school, I made sure to go to the gym three times a week. Going regularly offset my otherwise sedentary lifestyle, made me feel good and get my blood pumping, and I hung out with my own gym buddies — which happened to be a few moms and the fellow teenagers who occupied the front desk.

All of this became a new way for me to feel confident in my abilities and get stronger and stronger, both physically and mentally. With that being said, I was never much of a cardio junkie, and I would opt for a walk on the treadmill if I decided I was going to do any cardio at all. This all changed for me when I began my first year at NYU Florence.

By the time I got to college, I had felt pretty good about my gym routine, which rotated between a few key workouts and parts of the body, but I felt a little bored of how easy some moves had gotten. I was ready for a challenge. My roommate, who I met while abroad in Florence, knew subconsciously that I needed this challenge and put me to the test the day she asked me: “Do you wanna go on a run with me?”

How I Ran 13.1 Miles: A Half-Marathon Story (1)

One part of me thought: A run? Are you kidding me? I haven’t run intentionally since P.E. and that sucked. The other part of me thought: C’mon.You guys just met. You can’t reject her first attempt at doing something together if you want to stay friends! Combine that with enough guilt for leaving her to run on her own and there I was, on a run on the treadmill of the dorm’s basement gym, huffing and puffing just like it was my freshman year of high school all over again. My friend made sure not to comment on the fact that I was not a good runner, but she assured me that anyone who runs, no matter how many breaks, will still be considered a runner. So there I was, a runner. And it was all uphill from there.

I started joining her on her runs in the gym, taking long breaks to walk and turning red in the face. I joined her for lonely, icy runs in New York City when we lived together during COVID, and before I knew it, I was lacing up my Hokas in our shared apartment in the Lower East Side, getting ready to go for a morning two-mile run before our classes. After having incorporated running into my workout routine, I felt more capable than ever to commit to something athletic and physically demanding, more than I ever had before in my life. I won’t act like every run was a breeze and that I truly did it every time because I wanted to. There were times when I knew I’d be sitting at my desk all day so I would squeeze in a run at 7 a.m. in the freezing cold, which was less than enjoyable, or times when I’d just join my roommate because she wanted someone to run with. But with time, I found runs becoming more enjoyable and something that I genuinely wanted to implement into my life no matter how far or long I ran, no matter how many walking breaks I took, no matter how fast I ran a mile, or if I ran a mile at all.

In 2022, my roommate encouraged me to sign up for a half-marathon with her after she had recently run the New York City Marathon. She must have been high on endorphins when she suggested the idea. The half-marathon in question was six months away, so I thought: sure, if I want to back out, I have a whole six months to think about it. Slowly, the half-marathon date kept inching closer, and I thought back to little fifteen-year-old Kat, who was petrified of the one-mile test and I decided: let’s start training.

How I Ran 13.1 Miles: A Half-Marathon Story (2)

I Googled a basic half marathon training plan and got to running, working my way up to ten miles, which would be the longest distance I’d run before race day. My roommate and I would run multiple times a week while training and on Wednesdays, our long run days of six miles and up, we would travel all the way from Downtown up to Central Park, taking us roughly an hour to complete the journey. We would not stop for water or snacks to save time, making our hydroflasks taste all the more delicious once we made it back home. I would even drag my boyfriend along for our long runs so I wouldn’t waste time running instead of hanging out with him for the limited periods he was able to visit me on the weekends as my long distance partner. He obliged, making us a party of three at times. Quickly into my training, I was itching to run only four miles, which came to feel like a short distance to me compared to the eight mile runs I was working up towards, and felt better and better about putting on a race bib and running a half marathon.

The 2023 Brooklyn Half-Marathon was full of electricity and happy faces of people who were stretching their calves and munching on protein balls. I felt nervous sitting on a bench in the 40-degree chill of March, but was excited to have my mom cheering me on for my first and only athletic event. Unluckily for her, I chose one of the most boring sports to participate in for spectators, but she was supportive just the same. After a lot of monotonous city runs on streets I knew like the back of my hand, I was excited to do a few loops around Prospect Park and get a change of scenery. I did some hamstring stretches, ate a banana, plugged in my headphones and with the blare of an airhorn, I was off. My roommate stayed by my side for the whole race, pushing me to keep going and definitely keeping a slower pace so as to keep up with me, but she’d never admit that. The first five miles, I felt strong, with only a momentary shoelace malfunction. I felt ready for the last two and a half loops around the park. It was by miles nine and ten that I could feel blisters forming and my favorite song stopped sounding enjoyable after I had played it nine times in a row. I felt myself trail off and lose sight of the finish line, but I kept pushing. I knew I had to finish what I had started.

At two hours and fifteen minutes, I’d finished my first ever half-marathon, the longest distance I’d ever run in my life — and at a decent time, too, finishing quicker than I had anticipated! I celebrated with bagels and pad thai, and I let myself rest for as long as I wanted that weekend, feeling accomplished and sore. As soon as I got home after the race, participation medal in hand, I started researching full marathon training plans, a whole 26.2 miles, which was double what I had just run. I made sure that I made my search specified for people who had never run that distance before to give myself an accurate portrayal of how I could achieve this. I had never felt more inspired to put my mind and my body to the test.

I have yet to sign up for my first ever marathon, but I can say with confidence that pushing my self-doubt and past resentment for running aside was one of the most rewarding things I could have done for myself, and I only feel empowered to continue on my journey towards becoming a better runner. It is truly me, myself and I when I am out running, and I couldn’t be happier with the fact that I can be one of those people who runs! I’m one of those! I am a runner! I’m certain that my freshman year P.E. coach would be especially pleased with this news.

  • college story
  • marathon
  • marathon story
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • running


How do I train for a half marathon if I hate running? ›

How I Went from a Non-Runner to Running a Half Marathon
  1. Just get out there. ...
  2. Don't be ashamed of your skill level. ...
  3. Sign up for a race. ...
  4. Find a training schedule that works for you. ...
  5. Identify what type of running scenery you prefer. ...
  6. Start with a smaller race first. ...
  7. Find the right running buddy. ...
  8. Listen to some good podcasts.

How to run a half marathon in 2 hours 15 minutes? ›

If you're aiming for a 2 hour 15 minutes half marathon pace you will need to run at a pace of around 10:18 minutes per mile or 6:24 minutes per kilometer to come in at just under your desired time.

What if I want to run a half marathon in 2 hours? ›

The Perfect 2 Hour Half Marathon Pace

In order to get around your half marathon in exactly 2 hours, you would need to run a 9 minutes 9 seconds per mile pace, or 5 minutes 41 seconds per kilometer.

How to run a half marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes? ›

To get a 2 hour 30 minutes half marathon pace you will need to run at a pace of around 11:27 minutes per mile or 7:07 minutes per kilometer to come in at just under your desired time.

Do people stop to walk during a half marathon? ›

"If you rate it as a 5 or lower, you can keep running, but if you rate it as higher than a 5, you should stop and walk." Niemczyk notes that sometimes walking allows for a temporary time period to alleviate discomfort, to check in with your body and see if you should keep going at a particular speed or pace.

How many days before half marathon should I stop running? ›

How long should you taper for a half-marathon? Most runners will benefit from a 10-14 day taper. This usually means doing your longest run 2 weeks before your race and then cutting back on your mileage.

How should I eat before a half marathon? ›

Waking up about three hours before the race's start is a well-accepted practice. Consider having a light carbohydrate meal. Granola bars and bananas are great pre-race foods. Avoid foods rich in fiber (including fruits with skins, such as apples and pears) to avoid bowel movements right before (and during) your run.

How can I increase my pace in half marathon? ›

7 steps to improving your half marathon time
  1. Keep your training sessions varied. If you do the same training sessions week in, week out, two things will happen. ...
  2. Long runs for endurance. ...
  3. Practice running at your lactate threshold. ...
  4. Work on speed with interval sessions. ...
  5. Try hill runs.

How many miles per week do you train for a half marathon? ›

For the Half Marathon

The typical weekly mileage for average runners training for a half marathon is 30-40 miles a week. Elite runners will have a volume closer to 100-110 miles per week.

Can you drink 2 days before half marathon? ›

Alcohol and Athletic Performance: The Bottom Line

So, it's safe to say you should avoid alcohol ideally 48 hours before a race, and especially the night before, in order to have better endurance, power, and energy on race day.

Can you run 2 half marathons 2 weeks apart? ›

The general guideline for recovery is one "rest" day or easy day for every mile raced, so for the half-marathon distance, this means two weeks of taking it easy, that is, no speedwork, hard runs, or racing.

How do you run a 1.5 hour half marathon? ›

You want to train at the right pace, and run a consistent pace on race day. In order to get around your half marathon in exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes, you would need to run a 6 minutes 51 seconds per mile pace, or a 4 minutes 15 seconds per kilometer pace.

How to run a half marathon in 3 hours? ›

If you're aiming for a 3 hour half marathon pace you will need to run at a pace of around 13:44 minutes per mile or 8:32 minutes per kilometer to come in at just under your desired time.

What does sub 2.30 mean? ›

By Nathan. How do you run a sub 2.30 half marathon? Well, the difference in running a half marathon under 2 hours and 30 minutes is the same as running 2.30 for the marathon.

What should you do 2 days before a half marathon? ›

Two days before a race, his experienced runners would typically do a short, easy run, finishing up with four to six strides of roughly 20 seconds at race pace. He'll have inexperienced runners, or those who run three days a week or less, take a rest day two days before a race.

When should I eat during a half marathon? ›

When To Eat During a Half Marathon?
  1. A good rule of thumb is begin consuming fuel between the first 45-60 minutes of a race.
  2. Continue every 45-60 minutes after that.
  3. Try and time your intake with the aid station so you can wash it down with water (not sports drink, that'll be sugar overload).
Mar 26, 2019

What should I eat the night before a race? ›

As such, it's important that your meals leading up to the race have some carbohydrates to top off those glycogen stores. Healthy carbs for runners include grains like quinoa, pasta, sorghum, and rice. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and white potatoes are also great options.

Should you eat a banana before a run? ›

Eating a banana prior to working out can help you meet your needs for potassium to promote muscle function and prevent cramps. Bananas are rich in potassium, an important mineral that can support muscle contractions. Low levels of potassium may also cause muscle cramps.

When should I take energy gels during a half marathon? ›

Fuel Timing and Logistics

Aim to take your gels (or fuel, generally) every 30 minutes. If you're doing anything north of a 2 hour half marathon for example, you should take your gel at 30, 60, 90, and at the 2-hour mark to be safe.

Are eggs good before a run? ›

Protein takes longer for your body to digest—so you'll have to eat a couple of hours before the race begins—but eggs are a popular pre-race breakfast choice, especially for those who like something “real” for breakfast. Eating a breakfast like this, long enough in advance, leaves you well-fueled for a long race.

How should a half-marathon feel? ›

What does it feel like to race a half-marathon? Racing a half-marathon feels like a little bit of everything. If you have a good level of fitness, the first portion of the race is going to feel almost a little too relaxed. You might start around 70% of maximum effort, or 7.0 RPE.

How do I get from half-marathon to full? ›

How to progress from a half to a full marathon
  1. Choose your race wisely. ...
  2. Give yourself a runway. ...
  3. Find a plan for you. ...
  4. Run longer. ...
  5. Run more efficiently. ...
  6. Take it slowly. ...
  7. Connect. ...
  8. Set your race day expectations.
Apr 21, 2016

How do you not get bored for a half-marathon? ›

  1. Landmark runs. ...
  2. Explore a new running area. ...
  3. Try a trail run. ...
  4. Plan a hill repeat run. ...
  5. Try a track workout for speed. ...
  6. Make running dates with friends. ...
  7. Running on a treadmill? ...
  8. Register for a race.
Sep 9, 2015

What the longest run you should do before a marathon? ›

On average, how far you run before a marathon aka your peak long run should be 20 miles long: at least 16 miles long and at most 24 miles long. In time, the marathon training longest long run in marathon training will range from 2 hours to 4 hours in length.

How many miles should I run a day to stay healthy? ›

The typical weekly mileage for average runners training for the 10k is 20-30 miles per week, so a daily mileage of 4-8 is reasonable with a weekly long run closer to 10-12 miles.

Should I run everyday when training for a half marathon? ›

Training for a half marathon will require running at least three days a week. One of those days will be your long training run. Your long run will gradually increase during the training, topping out at 10 to 12 miles (for beginners).

Should you drink coffee the morning of a half marathon? ›

Before a run, coffee (or any form of caffeine) can increase your energy and reduce discomfort. Many long-distance runners and endurance athletes (including marathoners, cyclists, and triathletes) use caffeine supplements on race days to boost their performance.

Should I drink a lot of water the day before a marathon? ›

Hydrating for a marathon or half marathon actually requires focusing on your fluid intake well before the race ever begins. In fact, many experts recommend maintaining proper hydration for two days leading up to the race. This gives you your best chance of starting the race adequately hydrated.

Should you drink Gatorade during a half marathon? ›

I suggest ingesting an electrolyte drink with sugar so you can keep your fuel levels topped off. Unless you're taking a GU, I think water is better on you than in you during hot days, so opt for the Gatorade at the first few aid stations. You should aim to take in 6-10 oz of fluid every 2 to 3 miles.

What is runner's face? ›

Runner's face is a term used to describe changes in the facial appearance that some runners may experience over time, including leathery, saggy, aging, lean, and tired-looking skin. This cosmetic condition may occur more in distance runners due to increased weight loss and the effects of sun exposure.

What should I run 2 weeks before a half marathon? ›

Keeping workouts shorter but still maintaining quality will help keep your legs fresh. The weekend before your race should be your final long run, between 6 to 10 miles. In the final week before your race, training should be 30 to 60 minutes each day or every other day.

Can I do my last long run 2 weeks before marathon? ›

When should I run my last longest run? Your longest key long run should be 3-4 weeks out – no closer than that. Once you're 2 weeks out, this might reduce to 1 hour 45 minute runs, with the final 30 minutes at your goal race pace. Once you're a week out, take it down to 75 minutes or so – very easy and relaxed.

Does running increase stamina in bed? ›

Fast walking, running, and other aerobic activities help your sex life for the same reason that they prevent heart attacks,” says McCall. “They keep your blood vessels clear.” The result can be stronger and longer erections.

What is a good half marathon time for a 50 year old man? ›

Average Half Marathon Times for Men (Intermediate Level)
AgeAverage Half Marathon Finish TimePace Per Mile
10 more rows
Mar 28, 2023

How do I train for an 8 minute mile half marathon? ›

Be Specific in Your Workouts

If you want to run 8 minute miles for 13.1 miles, then you better practice running 8:00 minute miles for shorter distances in your training! Try to include workouts with 30-60 minutes at your goal half marathon pace at least once a week in the later part of your training.

How to go from 11 minute mile to 8 minute mile? ›

In order to increase your speed and achieve an 8 minute mile, you need to be doing speed workouts as part of your training routine consistently. Speed training like interval training, tempo running, Fartlek training, hill sprints and strides will go a long way to help you achieve your goal.

Can I run a half marathon 3 weeks before a marathon? ›

The half marathon taper should start two weeks before race day. It could be three weeks for some runners, but that should only happen if you've been following an unusually long training plan of 18 weeks or longer.

What is half marathon walking? ›

A half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers long. It will take 3 to 4 hours to complete at a continuous, brisk walking pace.

What is David Goggins marathon time? ›

Ultra Marathon Statistics
20202 Events, 463.49 km
4:54:15 hGoggins, DavidOverall: 1
28.-29.05.2016INFINITUS 2016 - 88k Ultramarathon (USA)
12:01:00 hGoggins, DavidOverall: 1
23.04.2016Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run (USA)
161 more rows

What pace is a half marathon in 2 hours? ›

In order to get around your half marathon in exactly 2 hours, you would need to run a 9 minutes 9 seconds per mile pace, or 5 minutes 41 seconds per kilometer. Here's the thing though – no half marathon is perfect.

How to run a marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes? ›

Running a 2 hour 30 minute marathon is a great achievement and will require you to run at a pace of around 5:43 minutes per mile or 3:33 minutes per kilometer to come in just under that magic time.

How do you train for a non running marathon? ›

Biking, ellipticaling, swimming, and aqua jogging are all great cross-training options. Depending on your body and capabilities, you can cross-train as many as three times a week while training for a marathon. On days you aren't running, fit in a strength training workout.

Is it okay to not like running? ›

It's normal that you feel like you “hate running” in your first couple of runs. Running is not easy. But don't give up too fast. Most runners start out feeling bored, but actually learn to love running with time.

How do I keep running when I want to stop? ›

How to Keep Running When You Really Want to Stop
  1. Walk, But Keep Your Feet Moving. Sometimes the truth is that the body is at its limit. ...
  2. Slow Your Pace Down. ...
  3. Focus on a Point Ahead. ...
  4. Set a Stopping or Walking Point. ...
  5. Set a Time Goal. ...
  6. Focus on Your Breathing. ...
  7. Run a Body Scan. ...
  8. Pick a Mantra.
Mar 2, 2022

How can I control myself while running? ›

Keep your eyes on an object in the distance and try to clear your mind. Focus on physical sensations, like your breath or your feet hitting the ground. Repeat your running mantra if you have one. When your mind returns to your boredom or discomfort (and it will), keep steering it back to your breath.

How do I start running without being embarrassed? ›

How to Stop Feeling Self-Conscious About Running
  1. Dress Like a Runner.
  2. Adjust Your Attitude.
  3. Look for Role Models.
  4. Learn Proper Form.
  5. Find a Running Buddy.
  6. Distract Yourself.
  7. Be Safe.
Jun 7, 2021

How do I run a half marathon alone? ›

3 Tips for Surviving a Solo Half Marathon
  1. Tip One for a Solo Half Marathon. Choose your course wisely. Run on the road, run on the trails, or run on the treadmill. ...
  2. Tip Two. Prepare your playlist in advance. ...
  3. Tip Three. Strategically plan aid stations and fuel.
Sep 13, 2020

Can I marathon train on a treadmill? ›

You can definitely train for a marathon on a treadmill. Whether you use the treadmill as a training tool for specific marathon speed workouts or even do all of your marathon training runs a treadmill, lots of people successfully prepare for marathons using treadmills.

How long do you train for a half marathon? ›

Most half marathon training plans are 12 to 18 weeks long. If you can comfortably run three miles without stopping and you're 12 to 18 weeks away from race day, you should start training. At first, try to run 3-4 days a week. As you progress, bump it to 4-5 days a week.

Does running give you a nice but? ›

Regular running will definitely get you a toned, fit body including a firm butt. However running per se will not make your butt bigger unless you specifically work out on your glutes. Marathon runners do not have big butts, when compared to sprinters.

Why is going on a run so awkward? ›

Running may feel awkward because you think people are looking at you when they aren't, or you aren't sure if you are running 'correctly. ' Take time to learn proper running form and practice running more frequently to feel less awkward during your runs.

Can running be bad for some people? ›

Running is a high impact, repetitive exercise and certainly has potential for injuries. As with any sport or exercise there is always risk of injury. The level of risk varies with your current level of health and fitness, previous injuries and appropriate training programs.


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