We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to give us their best tips for running a half marathon. Here are their recommendations...
1. Start by running short distances slowly. You can gradually increase your speed and distance over time.
"Condition your body through many weeks of training before the big day. Start slow and gradually increase your distance each week until you can comfortably run more than half the distance of your marathon easily at a consistent pace." — xpeed718
2. Make sure you do a long run every weekend and aim to do a couple of short runs during the week too.
"I focused on the long runs more than anything and if I missed a day or two or three during the week I didn't sweat it too much." — Tasha Genck Morton, via Facebook
3. But don't beat yourself up if you miss a day of training.
4. Follow a training plan or download an app to keep you motivated.
"Definitely follow a training plan! It makes life so much easier. I followed one of Jeff Galloway's plans and it was the best decision I have ever made!" — misodawn
"Download the free GIPIS app for a personalised training plan." — jamesd4dae3bcfc
"Get the Nike Running app and sign up for a running program. The app lets you compete with your friends, so if you schedule your training to run the same length of time, you can train together." — hannahm480766604
5. Incorporate exercise that isn't running into your training plan.
"Don't just run: Do some spinning and body pump classes as well. It will give your brain a rest from worrying about getting miles in. Although running uses your legs, your whole body needs to be in shape." — andreamac33
6. And make sure you do some hill training.
7. But don't train every day.
"Rest days are just as important as running. Don't be too hard on yourself and try to have fun." — lelands
"Try to plan your week's running every Sunday, factoring in at least one full rest day!" — Maggie Francis, via Facebook
8. If you're going to invest in one thing, make it your shoes.
"Invest in good shoes that are right for your body type and weight. Don't follow all the trends you hear about. What's important is researching and trying on different shoes to find the ones that are right for you." — xpeed718
"Invest in good running shoes. After you've chosen, train in the shoes you'll wear in the race. Never buy a new type of shoe right before the race without properly testing them. Otherwise, you may develop blisters or injuries during the race. Do your homework." — Wonton
"Invest in good running shoes! Find a running specialty store and have them help you find the right shoe for you." — kateb66
9. And make sure they're slightly bigger than your normal shoes.
10. Pro tip: Buy last year's design because they'll be much cheaper.
"Buy last year's colours. Nobody cares, and they are about £40 cheaper than the new colours." — staceykenny1990
11. Download a podcast to listen to as you run.
"If you find yourself getting bored on runs, I recommend podcasts! They changed the way I run. I have a bunch of favourites that keep me focused and interested. Plus they mean I'm not just getting bored of listening the same songs over and over. If you're looking for some good ones, Tanis, The Black Tapes, King Falls AM, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, Reply All, and Rabbits are great." — Corie Nell Darrington, via Facebook
"The best thing I did was to start running while listening to stand-up comedy rather than music. Music can sometimes get boring, especially if you're not in the mood for that particular song and you don't want to get out of the zone to change the track. Running while listening to my favourite stand-up comedian helped the runs go by much faster!" — tracis496a4d84c
12. Or, if you prefer, make a playlist of songs you love.
13. Use running as an excuse to get to know your local area.
"Get outside, figure out a route using a site like Free Map Tools, and get to know new parts of wherever you live!" — jennieeff
14. Consider investing in a running belt.
"I used to run carrying a water bottle, but my arm would get really tired. Getting a running belt made a huge difference. Instead of having to carry my own, I can drink when I need to. I also set a schedule to drink: I set an alarm for every 10 minutes. Even if it's a small sip, it makes all the difference." — Ashley Bramble, via Facebook
"Get a running belt. I love mine. If your race is in the summer and you can't wear anything with pockets, a running belt is so handy. It's an easy and non-irritating way to hold your phone, money, spare hair tie, and extra bits!" — georginal478eaa0a3
15. And buy yourself a bottle of anti-chafing gel.
16. Trying making your own ~natural~ Red Bull.
"Mix together honey, lemon, chia seeds, and water. Drinking a bottle during each training run helped me a massive amount." — Michael Standen, via Facebook
17. Run with other people.
"Running with a buddy gives you more incentive to get off your couch and go." — hannahm480766604
"I ran with a friend who also trained for the half marathon and we pushed each other. As we were training during the winter months, we even managed to run when it was dark because one of us would always be motivated enough." — k4cc455ed0
"Sign up to Parkrun! I was a casual runner and only did the occasional 5k or 10k race because I found it difficult to find a running partner and it was the only way I could run in a group. Parkrun is the best and biggest running community in the world where anybody can join in with a timed 5k walk every Saturday morning at 8am in a nearby park. It's my church." — saram4db5c079b
18. Make sure you've run at least 10 miles before the race.
19. And think about signing up to a few shorter races before the real thing.
"One of the best ways I was able to consistently increase my distance and pace was by signing up for lots of races beforehand. They hold you accountable and show you how the racing environment is different from running on your own or with a running group." — allylilly1234
20. If you're going to use energy drinks or gels, try them out while you're still practising.
"Try out foods, energy gels, or drinks for training runs so you know what works for you and there won't be any unpleasant surprises on race day. There's nothing worse than finding out that something doesn't agree with your body mid-race!" — Annie Metcalfe, via Facebook
"If you've only trained with water stops, don't switch to energy drink on the day because you'll probably feel ill!" — georginal478eaa0a3
21. And make sure you've worn your race day outfit before the actual race.
22. Sign up to a race that suits you.
"Do your research before signing up for a race. If you're not training on hills, avoid signing up for a race in a hilly region. Make considerations for elevation, climate, and even things like local vegetation that might trigger allergies." — Margaret DeVico, via Facebook
23. And look for one that will attract a big crowd.
"Sign up for a race where you know there will be plenty of spectators throughout the entire course. The easiest times are when people are waving, applauding, and encouraging you as you run. And the hardest times are when you are alone on the course. I always get so much energy from the funny and/or motivational signs that spectators have made. Try to pick a race that runs through city streets and through neighbourhoods. That way, you'll know there will be people cheering you on the whole time!" — KatherineMarieM
24. Consider raising money for charity.
25. Chill out in the week leading up to your race.
"It sounds counterintuitive, but any hardcore runs you do 7-10 days before race day won't help. So, cut your training milage in half the week before your half marathon. Overdoing it in the days leading up to the big race can lead to fatigue, disappointment and, *gasp*, injury." — Max McLarty, via Facebook
26. And eat meals that are high in healthy fats.
"Start eating high fat meals (i.e. avocado, salmon, oily fish, etc.) a few days before the race. This ensures that you burn fat, as opposed to sugar, which sustains your energy for longer!" — radinab
27. Treat yourself to a big meal the night before the race.
28. But avoid drinking alcohol.
"I ran my first half marathon the day after a friend's wedding when I was still a little hungover. I wouldn't recommend it." — Simon Duprier, via Facebook
29. Put your name on your shirt if you want people to cheer for you.
"If you are putting your name on your shirt, put it on the front. People will cheer you on using your name as you go by and it is the best motivation!" — j4026a7aea
30. Go to the loo before you start.
31. Remember to run at the pace you've trained at.
"When you cross the starting line, surrounded by people totally PUMPED to be there, possibly with upbeat music playing on speakers all around you, with people on the sidelines cheering loudly, you will be suffused with an intoxicating burst of energy. You will feel, for a moment, as though anything is possible. You will, quite possibly, be tempted to let that feeling push you to run harder, to achieve a faster first mile than you ever have before, to keep pace with runners who are faster than you are. DO NOT GIVE IN TO THESE URGES. IT'S A TRAP. Just run at the pace you've trained at, the pace you KNOW works for you, and instead of burning out by mile three and limping through the rest of it, you'll be rewarded with the same feeling that you had at the starting line, multiplied tenfold, when you cross the finish." — skiinggnat
32. And be careful not to drink too much water.
"Don't drink too much water! I had as much water and Gatorade as I possibly could at each water stop and it was a terrible life choice. It made the last three or so miles of the race so much harder than they needed to be and about 100 feet from the finish line I threw up all the water and Powerade I downed. It was embarrassing and gross and my sister had to piggyback me the rest of the way. So, please don't drink too much water and vom right before the finish line!" — helaynasjoberg
33. Take it one mile at a time.
34. And know that it's mind over matter.
"Within the last two years I have gone from 'not a runner' to 'avid marathoner'. The biggest piece of advice I can give is that, honestly, it's more about what your mind is thinking than what your legs are feeling. Tell yourself that you can accomplish that run and you will feel such a difference when you are feeling like you are starting to give up." — hannaf4293b9ea5
"Have fun and think positive thoughts, because there is nothing worse than to go into a race thinking negative thoughts. Distance running, especially long races like a half marathon, is a battle with your mind, and if you already start on a bad foot, then it won't get any better through the race." — sarahm4fc637e96
35. Take it slow: There's no shame in finishing last.
"For your first race, make your goal just to finish. The person who ran the fastest and the person who ran the slowest still can say that they ran 13.1 miles that day!" — hannaf4293b9ea5
"If you have bad knees, I suggest taking it slowly. Don't run it: jog or speed walk it. There is no shame in being last at a marathon. You've already proven yourself to be tough by finishing one." — xpeed718
36. And don't focus on everyone else around you.
37. Inhale every four steps and exhale every four steps.
"This increases oxygen to your heart and keeps you energised!" — radinab
38. If you're aiming to finish in a particular time, find a pacer and stick with them.
"Once you're at the race, find a pacer and stick with them. They're there to help you through the race, and they'll make sure you hit your goal time." — rebeccay474777a8e
"Run with a pacing group! The other people will be hitting the same walls, and you won't want to lose your new buddies so you'll be encouraged to keep going." — laurenk437784f1a
"Pace yourself! If possible, practise up with a pace group. You'll find yourself wanting to run faster at the beginning of the race, but then you may tire out. It's much easier to run at a consistent pace!" — ScienceLadyKatie
39. If you are tired, just run slowly instead of stopping.
40. Get someone to drive you home after the race!
"Get someone to drive you home after! The (normally five-minute) walk from the finish line to my house took me a good 20 minutes and was worse than the 13 miles I'd just run!" — Jude Whitaker, via Facebook
41. Make yourself peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
"After the race, treat yo' self with some peanut butter sandwich or bananas as it will help you avoid cramping and pain." — xpeed718
42. And then take an ice bath.
43. But most of all, try to enjoy yourself!
Running a half marathon is a massive achievement! Don't let it stress you out and try to enjoy yourself as you run.
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.