Running A Half Marathon With No Training

Running A Half Marathon With No Training | Beginners Guide

In the early months of 2023, I decided to participate in the Chester Half Marathon. My brother and his friend had entered so I thought I would give it a go. 

3 Animal Instinct runners wearing AI performance tees and AI shorts before running bangor half marathon

It wasn't until I pressed that submit button that my mind started to fill with dread. The most I had ever ran at this point was 7km. I had made a grave mistake (or so I thought).

I had little to no training heading into the race, only signing up a few weeks prior. And to this day, it stands to be one of the best days of my life.

I thoroughly believe anyone can run a half marathon, with very little training involved. In fact, the race taught me that most things are possible through the power of the mind.

Our bodies will do the physical work, but only if our mind lets it.

In this article, I'll break down the steps to follow to ensure that you overcome this mental barrier and smash your first half marathon.

Animal Instinct co-founder Nile Breeze running the Chester Half Marathon in an AI Mens Athletic Performance Top

1) Break the race down to a granular level

The thought of running 21km (or 13 miles) is daunting for anyone.

When we see this figure, we want to pick up our ball and run home. We immediately write ourselves off because it's a distance most people are unfamiliar with.

Make the race as familiar to your brain as possible. Break it down into distances your familiar with. 3km, 5km, 10km. 

When you do this, the finish line becomes more attainable. Small things like learning the route will help you overcome the dread of the race ahead.

2) It's a marathon, not a sprint

A large number of first time runners get an adrenaline rush when they're new to a race event.

They come out of the starting line, hear the crowd, and get a huge dopamine rush to their heads.

This leads to many starting the race off way too fast.

Then, once they're a few miles into the race, there's less people around, the motivation starts to wear off, and their energy levels have depleted entirely.

Just because the race says half in it, it doesn't make it an easy feet. You need to conserve your energy for the vital moments where you feel like quitting.

Start the race off at a set pace, that you could easily sustain for a couple of hours. You will initially feel like you are going slow, but when those legs start to ache and your breathing becomes heavier, you'll be thankful that you held yourself back.

Doing this can also ensure that, when that second wind kicks in and you're near the finish line, you have that extra bit of energy left just in time for that second adrenaline rush. 

Have a pace in mind before you start, and stick to it until you become familiar with the distance left.

3) Use other runners to your advantage

Now I'm not saying you should be comparing yourself to other runners. Everyone will be of different abilities, and if you find yourself racing someone who is better than you, this can be detrimental to your race.

In this step, I'm saying that, once you've found a comfortable pace, have a look at the people around you and use them as checkpoints.

Animal Instinct Mens Athletic Performance Top worn by AI co-founder Nile Breeze

Start to slowly, and methodically, take over these people as you run. By doing this, you have small little objectives to aim for whilst you wait for the end of the race.

These small wins will be great for your mind, as you are seeing instant gratification in what is a mostly dull and uncomfortable experience for most people.

In doing this, you are also pushing yourself to new levels, and slowly building that mental armour for when you reach the toughest stages of the race. 

4) Your friends and family are watching (or, at least pretend they are)

When you do this race, it is important to remember that, whether you like it or not, you are setting an example for someone in your life.

You have people around you that know you're doing this race.

Would you want them to see someone that has given up? Someone that has decided it's too tough for them?

No one will remember that you were 'too tired', or your 'legs were hurting', they will remember that when the going got tough, you were too weak minded to complete a simple run.

Don't be that person. Be the person that shows the people around them how tough you really are, and how they could do the same if they tried.

It's your job to lead by example, and show everyone what true willpower really is.

5) Don't fall for the inner compliments

When your mind starts to see that you're absolutely smashing the race to pieces, it will derive from it's former tactic of simply telling you to stop. It will start to use your progress against you.

Instead of hearing 'it's too far, you're not good enough for this', you'll start to hear 'you've done amazing, you can stop now, look how far you've come, you deserve a rest'. 

You absolutely do not deserve a rest. You set out to finish this race, and that is exactly what you're going to do.

Instead of listening to these voices, you should constantly ask yourself this question during the race:

"Am I going to finish this race"

And you answer 'YES' every single time.

Push yourself to that limit, block out the niceness of your mind as it tries to trick you. Set your goal in mind and complete the task you set out to do.

Animal Instinct smashing the Chester Half Marathon 2023


Nile Breeze is a Co-Founder of Animal Instinct, and in 2023 he represented the AI brand in the Chester Half Marathon and the North West 15km Tough Mudder last month.

Nile, alongside fellow Co-Founders Liam Bedford, Chris Williams and Adam Williams, will be running 11km everyday during the month of November to raise money for men's charity Movember.

In this article, Nile is pictured wearing the Mens Athletic Performance Top, which you can find on the Animal Instinct Official Store.

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