Half Marathon Training for Beginners: How to Stay Motivated

As an official blogger for the 2018 DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, I received complimentary race admission and race gear for blogging about my training experience.

When I decided to run the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, I imagined myself training outside with runs after work at a local bike trail. But I totally forgot about something… Pittsburgh winter weather. Yep. That’s quite a big thing to forget. Some days it’s 7 degrees with a wind chill below zero, and others are in the 40s, which in the winter feels like a summer day. Also, it gets dark before I’m even out of the office… womp, womp.

So yeah, the winter blues have made it hard to kick off my training. I really wish I had the endurance and drive that some veteran runners display with workouts in the snow and cold temps, but I truly don’t know how they do it!

For me, it all comes back to this: I’m running the race in May to prove to myself that I can do it. I want to be my own Wonder Woman. I want to make myself proud. I want to cross a half marathon off my bucket list! So whether you’re a beginner runner or a veteran, you can totally do this! Here are my tips to stay motivated (when it would be easier to just lounge in your warm house on the couch).

2018 Official Blogger Banner

Invest in a Gym Membership

This has been so important for me! We’ve already established that I’m not a huge fan of running in freezing temps, and if that’s not working for you either, you’ll need another option. Since I don’t own a treadmill, I opted to get a pass at a local gym near my home. Now I have no excuse. My gym is literally down a hill from my house, so getting in and out is not a problem at all. And once I paid my membership fee, I felt more obligated to get my tush to the treadmill or to one of their workout classes.

Find a Running Buddy

For me, running is a social affair! Not only do running buddies make workouts more fun, but they also create accountability and give you a support system. My running buddy, Michelle, and I meet for our long run each weekend. And while some Saturdays I just want to sleep in, it is the weekend after all, knowing I have a running date with a friend gets me out of bed and excited to run.

workout with apple watch

Share Your Progress Virtually

And to kick the accountability level up a notch, opt to share your workouts and progress electronically with your running buddy. Michelle and I are both Apple Watch girls, so this is so easy to do. Not only can you check in on their progress, you also get notifications when they complete a workout.

Invest in Some New (& Geeky!) Gear

I’ll be honest, I get pretty excited to wear my Wonder Woman and Star Wars Fight Scene leggings from Under Armour. I already told you I want to be my own Wonder Woman by running a half marathon, and these leggings totally motivate me to workout! From Wonder Woman leggings to Han Solo yoga mats, find all my favorite geeky workout gear here.

wonder woman under armour leggings

Star Wars Workout Gear

Make a Playlist

There’s nothing worse than trying to find something to listen to when you’re about to start your run, or worse, while you’re running. Plan ahead and build the perfect playlist, that way you won’t hit a slow song in the middle of your run (and totally kill your running flow).

Sign Up for a Race

And the best way to stay motivated? Find a race and sign up. Once you’re locked in, you’ve got something to work toward! No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Are you considering running an upcoming 5K, half marathon, or a full marathon? Join me in my training and make 2018 your year and be your own Wonder Woman (or Superman)!

And if you’re in the Pittsburgh area, consider signing up for one of this year’s DICK’s Sporting Goods marathon events — full marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 5k, pet walk, or another. There’s something for everyone! Sign up by March 31, 2018 and receive $10 off your entry by using my official blogger code, DELMONICODSGPM18, at checkout. Learn more and sign up on the DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon website.




  1. January 29, 2018 / 10:13 am

    These are great tips, Monica! I’d love to work up to running a half marathon and will definitely be keeping these things in mind.

    • January 29, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      You can totally do it! Just start small and increase your miles as you go. I definitely feel proud after I finish a run!

  2. January 29, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    The longest race I ran was only a 15 K, but it was amazing. I trained for it and met my goal, and it was a really great feeling. Good luck in your half marathon!

    • January 29, 2018 / 9:20 pm

      Thanks, Beth! I hope training goes smoothly — it feels like a long ways off, but I know these next couple months will fly by!

  3. johnny @ fulltimenomad.com
    January 30, 2018 / 11:28 am

    The most I’ve ever run is about 10k. I would definitely struggle to reach the distance if I was to do it tomorrow. How would you train? Start with like 5k and then increase over time until you can reach the full distance?

  4. January 30, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    Great tips! I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon but don’t have anyone to do it with me. I’m hoping to get into them once we move back home this summer and we have friends and family there. But my Fitbit really helps me to stay on track with my workouts and I don’t even know what I’d do without my gym membership! haha

    • January 30, 2018 / 2:50 pm

      I can definitely relate! My old HS friend was my running buddy, and when we moved away, I lost my momentum without her! Luckily, I’ve now recruited new friends to run and it has helped tremendously!

  5. January 30, 2018 / 2:49 pm

    Signing up for a race is what keeps me motivated – I’m always signed up for a bunch so I never have an excuse to slack off! And the geeky wear is great too. I like planning race costumes for my Disney races πŸ˜‰

    • January 30, 2018 / 2:50 pm

      I hope to one day run in a Disney race! Any recommendations on which ones are the best?

  6. sweatstyleshelly
    January 30, 2018 / 5:34 pm

    I absolutely love this post! I am on my club triathlon team at college, but I’ve mever ran a half marathon…definitely on my bucket list! Good luck(:

    • January 30, 2018 / 10:23 pm

      Thanks! I’m hoping it gets easier as my training progresses! So far, any run that I can do outside has been my favorite! Way less boring than a treadmill. And I say definitely go for a half marathon yourself! πŸ™‚

  7. January 30, 2018 / 5:47 pm

    Kudos to you for doing a marathon! I personally have no interest in running that long distance, but I would really want to train for a tough mudder.

    • January 30, 2018 / 10:25 pm

      Thanks! It’s baby steps for sure. I don’t mind the running, but I think Tough Mudder might be too intense for me! lol

  8. January 30, 2018 / 8:46 pm

    I ran a 5K in the fall and let me tell you, training was so important! A running buddy definitely helps too! πŸ™‚

    • January 30, 2018 / 10:26 pm

      The running buddy helps SO much! Not just for accountability, but runs are a lot more fun when you have someone to talk to! (In between my panting, of course.) πŸ™‚

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