Whether this is your first half marathon or if you’re a seasoned veteran i thought it might be worth a reminder of some important half marathon training tips:
Get yourself a training plan. Schedule the runs on your calendar at this helps to make you feel in control and gives you the sense of achievement as you work your way through it. Choose a training plan that is realistic and appropriate for your goal and your life!
Set a realistic goal. By all means make the goal challenging but also realistic to where you are now and how much time you can dedicate to training. If it’s your first half marathon your goal should be about finishing – it’s a PB whatever you do!
Time on your feet. For beginners in particular getting used to time on your feet is more important than miles. If you think it’s going to take you 2 hours 30 you need at least two training runs of 2 hours plus.
Rest is really important. As you train you put extra load on your body. Your body needs time to adapt to that extra load in order to become stronger. Rest is a crucial part of the training process. Ensure you training plan includes rest days.
Take your nutrition seriously. All this effort needs fuel! Make sure you eat before a long run something that will give you a slow release of energy like oats. During the run your body can provide you with fuel for up to around 90 minutes after that you will need something to keep you going. This might be a few sips of sports drink, a gel or jelly babies. Practice your fuel during training runs. Don’t try anything new on race day. Hydrate well all the time (not just days you are running). After a run you need protein within an hour. Remember protein can also come in liquid form such as a protein shake or smoothie. Feeling really tired or grouchy? Maybe you need to look at your nutrition!
Prioritize the Long Run. Your training plan is likely to consist of a mix of shorter runs in the week and a longer one at the weekend. Ideally you should vary the pace of your runs. Conversational for the long run and maybe a faster ‘ tempo’ pace for a shorter weekday run. Had a terrible week at work and missed a run? Don’t panic but do try to prioritize the long run over the others.
Don’t keep running if the pain is getting worse. If you’ve picked up an injury then don’t keep running on it especially if the pain is getting worse. Far better to arrive at the start line slightly less fit but pain free. First objective is always to make it to the start line!
Play the mind games. Your attitude and mental approach will be a huge factor in your success. Learn how to stay positive! Break the run down into chunks. Try counting to 100 to get you through a tough patch. Get yourself a couple of mantras to keep you going ‘Still feeling strong, I’ve got this’. Running with others can really help the motivation – nothing beats a great running buddy!
Enjoy it. Half marathon training can be a joy especially as we progress through the Autumn and see the season turn. Remember if your overall goal is to stay fit and healthy then you’re reaping the benefits every time you step outside. Enjoy the journey!