Pro Spotlight: Tips for Running Your First (or Fiftieth) Half Marathon

Camp BarnabasEvent, Tips

In preparation for the Big Party Half Marathon & 5K April 7, we caught up with two pros: Long-time marathon runner and full-time Barnabas employee, Mindy Frech, and an avid runner and supporter of Camp Barnabas, Dan Waisner. Both shared training tips and race-day wisdom relevant to rookies and veterans alike:

Q: What is the best way to start training for a race?

MINDY: “The best way to start off is a little at a time. Know the distance you have to run by race day and plan your week goals backward from that amount.”

DAN: “Start adding mileage slowly. Almost all injuries occur because runners add mileage too quickly. Get comfortable with 3 miles before going 6. Get comfortable with 6 before going 10, etc… However, your brain is a liar; you’re capable of so much more than you think!”

runners on the road

Q: What are the three most important tips for race day?

MINDY: “Don’t wear new shoes. Know what your body needs the day of the race. Also, make sure you have multiple sources of motivation. One of my good friends from my first marathon made me a tiny twelve-page book called ‘Mindy’s Marathon Pack’ and it had bible verses and motivation in it that helped keep me going. Getting inspiration in any way can provide you with the strength you need to finish strong.”

DAN: “Don’t let your nerves make you pace too quickly the first third of the race. Don’t use any new gels because stomach problems are not ideal! Enjoy everything and have fun!”

Q: How many races have you participated in?

MINDY: “Twenty-five including the Chicago Marathon and the Austin Marathon.”

DAN: “I’ve generally been more of a solitary runner.  I enjoy running alone out in the country where it’s just the cows and me with my headphones listening to music or an audiobook!  Several years ago I decided to participate in organized events and since then I’ve completed 5 or 6 halves and 2 fulls. My favorite races are my first marathon (Bass Pro in Springfield, MO), the Chicago marathon (that race makes you feel like a rock star), and my favorite half is the Barnabas Big Party!”

Mindy running in the Chicago Marathon.

Mindy running in the Chicago Marathon.

Q: What is your favorite memory from racing?

MINDY: “My favorite experience from a race was when I ran with my best friend. We trained for the Austin Marathon together which, as you can assume, means spending a lot of time with someone. My favorite part was that we got our PR which was 3 hours and 42 minutes. Also, there is this magic that happens when you are training, and you feel like you could run forever. You will have those moments as a runner and that will keep you running.”

DAN: “You can never replace the memories made crossing the finish line for the first time of each new distance. I still remember finishing my first 5k, half, and full. What an accomplishment! The spectators make the races fun, and the millions of them at Chicago was epic.”

Q: What makes the Big Party Half Marathon different than other races you’ve run?

MINDY: “This run is so different from others I have run in the past because there is a purpose behind it. In other runs that I have participated in, it was mainly about accomplishing personal goals. Having goals for the Big Party Half Marathon is great and I want runners to have them, but to be running a race and know that I am helping to get a camper to Camp Barnabas, that is what makes this different. That and the Big Party is such a unique race because there is fun music playing, volunteers lining the route with lots of energy, and the race gives participants a sliver of what camp is like; a big party!”

DAN: “The campers and families at the start and all along the course make Big Party unique! The JUMBO smiles and high fives are the best!”


Big Party Half Marathon & 5K PosterCamp Barnabas’ Big Party Half Marathon and 5K is April 7 at Jordan Valley Park in Springfield, Missouri. Come hang out with us and run, walk, or cheer on others during this fun-filled event! All proceeds go towards our Barnabas Scholarship Fund which helps send individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses to a life-changing week at camp.

REGISTER NOW: Visit www.BigPartyMarathon.com and check out our Facebook event for tickets and information. We hope you can join us for this extraordinary race!

Running up steps

“But I consider my life of no value to myself, if only I may finish my course and complete the ministry I have received from the Lord Jesus– the ministry of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” -Acts 20:24