The big day is nearly upon you! You’ve been training in all weather, and you are excited to get your running shoes on and get out there! It’s half marathon day and you are ready!
But are you? Preparation for a half marathon needs every bit as much focus as preparing for longer distances and tougher conditions. A half marathon may be “only” half the distance of a full run, but that doesn’t mean it requires any less commitment and enthusiasm to ensure you complete it safely and in good time.
As we love all things running, we thought we’d share with you our ultimate guide to getting prepped for your next half marathon.
1. Pick a plan
Without proper planning, your half marathon experience may not be as successful as you would like it to be. All runners need a training plan to stick to. Slapdash runs here and there just won’t cut it I’m afraid! A half marathon provides a challenge beyond the popular 10K, but offers a more flexible approach than training for a full marathon would. The training period for the half marathon is about three months, and you need to choose how often you run, the speed at which you run and the conditions underfoot. Set your plan carefully, and stick to it.
2. Get some serious miles in
Running a half marathon will be considerably more enjoyable and less painful if you have run similar distances before. Before your running date take on a 12 week plan of running between 15-20 miles every week. Start slow and build up to it, your body needs to be ready for the big day. You should be looking at no less than 30-40 minute runs, at least 3 times a week before the big day.
3. Hit the Gym
Marathon running is about strength and stamina, not always speed. In order for your body to be able to cope with the strain of long distance running you need to work on your core strength. Aerobic cross-training as well as light resistance training on your off running days is a great way to start. Cycling and swimming also help to build stamina. A good cross-tracing plan will help you maintain your form and help you to fight off fatigue.
4. It’s better together!
If you can find a training group that is convenient for you, then get signed up! Running as a group, or with a training buddy, can make all the difference to the success of your training. You are much more likely to get up and get running if you know your friend is waiting for you. You can also offer each other encouragement along the way, which helps to fight off fatigue.
5. Eat Well
Yes, we know that goes without saying. There’s no point running everyday and then eating badly, but during your training period concentrate on a high protein, low fat diet. Drink plenty of water, when running, when resting and of course on race day too.
6. Research your race
Be prepared for the day and find out the basics before you hit the ground running. Just because a race is in a flat area doesn’t mean it will have a flat course. Many races will incorporate the rolling hills of local parks and public spaces. Find out at which mile markers water and/or aid stations will be provided, find out how often you can get water, and of course, super important, find out where the loos are!
Yep, that’s right, we said rest! Resting up is just as important as training hard. Skipping rest days will reduce your body’s ability to recover and make you more prone to injury. Be sure to take your scheduled rest days, but also listen to your body. If you’re feeling worn down, have no energy, feel sore, tired, lethargic and or unmotivated, check your resting heart rate before getting out of bed – you are more than likely overtraining and need a rest day.
However you make your training schedule work for you, successfully running a half marathon is a rewarding experience and you will feel great! Who knows, you may even set your sights on the full 26 miles next time!