Ryan Sullivan's 5 Secrets to First Time Half Marathon Success

Eight years ago, Ryan Sullivan knew he needed to make a serious change in his life. Struggling with weight problems in high school led to him being put on blood pressure medicine, and his curiosity for improving his life began. He started by changing his eating habits, cutting back on junk food as well as hitting the gym. The results started to show, which led him even further to his pursuit of running. Dreading to run as a kid, the challenge and competitiveness drove him and pushed Ryan to continuously want to improve each and every day.

One thing that makes Ryan truly stand out is his love for helping people. Previously working with charities, to now advising students on where to do exchange studies, he loves seeing others reach their full potential. Recently, he’s taken his own passion of making healthy choices and is now helping others improve their own health.

"I know exercising and eating healthy can be difficult for many different reasons. Sometimes people are not sure where to start or how to improve on their healthy habits. I like the challenge of working with others and helping them. I am constantly getting inspiration from those that I coach, watching them reach their goals and even go beyond them.

Ryan is now a running coach, helping athletes prepare for 5K, 10K and half marathons. I asked Ryan to share his 5 secrets that are imperative to think about when training for your first half marathon.

1. Be Prepared

Before you even sign up for a half marathon, you should think about and/or do a few things. Researching different races to see which one appeals to you and the time you have to prepare is important. Also, talk to others about their experience running half marathons. What did they like and not like? How did they train? This helps lay a foundation that will help you.

2. Stick To A Schedule

If you are running a half marathon for the first time, it can be daunting. You should research different half marathon running schedules, so you are well prepared and to avoid injury. It should be something that fits within your timeframe, so you do not have to re-adjust your workouts too much.

3. Cross Train

Sometimes, people think to run a half marathon, all you need to do is run 13.1 miles (or 21 kilometers). Beyond just improving your distance each week in preparation for your half marathon, you should also be doing other workouts. Cross training (biking, swimming, using elliptical machines) is a great way of using other muscles that you would not normally use when running and strengthen them. Furthermore, you can look into yoga to improve your balance and flexibility and CrossFit to help your cardiovascular conditioning.

4. Don’t Quit

Running can be very challenging and is hard to master. You will have good days where you run a personal best or feel that you can run farther and bad days where you barely can run a mile. The best advice is you should never underestimate yourself. Joining a running group or running with a friend can give you that extra support to reach your goals.

5. Have Fun

This is my biggest rule. In order for you to get the most out of your training, you need to have fun. If you have a bad training day, relax. Remember that it is only one bad day and that next day will be different. Training for your half marathon is part of the experience and go with your best foot forward is a must (pun intended).

Ryan's Best Items

Lululemon Surge Shorts | "I know the belief is that Lululemon is geared toward females, but I have tried their brand for the last year, and have been quite impressed. Their clothes are comfortable and made very well. One of my favorite shorts are from their Surge series. They are lightweight and allow me to keep a key in my pocket for my long runs."

Nike Free Shoes | "I also am a Nike guy. I have tried many different types of shoes and my favorite is Nike Free. I do not like to have support for my shoes as I feel it slows me down. The Nike Free offers me a light feel that gives me the quickness from the beginning of my races, to the finish line."

For more advice from Ryan, check out his articles on #CONQUER10K or see his gear recommendations on Dooers.

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