Half Marathon Training Tips
Running a half marathon is the most popular choice today especially for beginners. It’s a manageable distance and there are dozens of events hosting the half marathon. Since running will cause stress on your joints, starting conservative with a semi-challenging distance of 13.2 miles is perfect for those new to marathon events.
However, it isn’t something you can sign up for without any preparation. It will require training and cross training to strengthen your joints, muscles, and build your stamina. Fortunately, half marathon training is very do-able.
According to Alexander Chaple, personal trainer with Fitness First, 3 months is the minimum preparation period for someone new to running. He explains that this period is just long enough to strengthen and get muscles and joints used to the physical demands of running. However, every runner must be assessed on a case-to-case basis since it would depend on the fitness and health of the individual.
Basic Tips on Running Half Marathons
Endurance, strength, safety, and nutrition are the basics of running whether you want to jog around the oval a few times or start joining half marathons. All running experts will give you the following general tips:
- Have a main goal and mini goals. This will prevent you for getting sidetracked and at the same time, stay motivated.
- Training for a half marathon takes several months and many things can happen in that time frame to get in the way of your dream of running in a marathon so the goals will help bind you to your dream.
- Apply the warming-up and cooling down process every time you exercise, train, or go on a run. This is a must-do stage to prevent injuries and cramps.
- Schedule rest days because getting fit is not accomplished by working out daily or working out for long hours. This will just put too much physical strain on your body and an 8 hour sleep may not enough time for your body to recover.
- Get the proper equipment especially good running shoes. Running shoes have a lifespan of up to 500 miles. Consider getting two pairs once you have found the ideal shoe so you will always have a backup pair.
If you experience any injury or pain during your training, do see a doctor as soon as possible. Brushing aside these may lead to more serious conditions that could derail your plans to run a half marathon.
For instance, the cartilage and bones around the joint areas deteriorate as you grow older. Signs of deterioration include swelling, pain, tenderness, stiffness, or flexibility loss. For young runners, sudden growth spurt could cause pain as the cartilage and tissues around the knees do not spurt at the same rate as the bone, leaving a gap that causes pain when applying pressure. Seeing a doctor can provide relief and answers.
However, you will get runner’s feet which many say are the ugliest feet next to ballet dancers. Your feet will get calluses, blisters and sores. It is highly recommended for you to learn first aid on foot problems such as these so you can treat them quicklyAdjust your food needs as your body becomes accustomed to the training. You should also make sure your glucose levels are good to prevent cramps and muscle loss.
Beginners’ Half Marathon Training Tips
Right away, it is important to know that while you are aiming to run and finish the 13.1 mile run, you should not aim for 13.1 run on your first week of training. In fact, it will probably take more than a week before you can comfortably run this distance. But not to worry because during the time before your practice 13.1 mile run, you have a lot to do.
The best start is a visit to the doctor. Do get clearance from your doctor to train for the half marathon. Not only is this a confidence booster knowing you have the backing of your doctor, it will also give you a reference point on your physical and health status as a runner. Ask your doctor for tips on what to be careful about. You may have something in your medical history worth taking note of or you may have had a previous injury or condition that may need special attention.
The ideal running kit for a beginner includes:
- Running shoes
- Shorts, shirts, lightweight jacket, socks, towel
- Energy bars or gels, water
- A running app
Optional add-ins for a running kit would include a device for listening to music, sports ear buds, and a belt bag if your shorts don’t have pockets.
Your weeks of training should target 4 areas: strengthening of joints, running and stamina, diet and nutrition, and cross training. Towards the end of the 3 month training or when you are about 2 weeks away from the half marathon event, start tapering off on the gym workouts and start running shorter distances to build stamina and endurance. You may also want to consult a nutritionist about your diet two weeks before race day. It is not wise to carb load the day of the race but 24 hours before the race.
Key Points To Remember with Half Marathon Training
Consistency. This is also important for training. It would not be wise to start-stop-start again when it comes to training. And while there are several options for training, do mix it up a bit so you don’t get bored. The euphoria of a beginner in training fades away quickly so one way to maintain momentum is to keep the training exciting and challenging.
Pacing. Pacing is not only done during the race but also during training. If you can be at the course before race day, you can get to know it and strategize. The advantage of being able to pace yourself well is that you avoid getting easily distracted or panicky. Pacing means having a plan and with this plan, you can get right back on track, mentally able to prepare for what’s ahead in spite of all the excitement and busy-ness of everything around you.
Believe in Yourself. All the training you do and all the nutritious food you eat will amount to a great body but not necessarily a finish in a half marathon. When you are out on your first half marathon run, it’s just you. Will you finish? Will you be able to handle all the doubts that will go racing through your mind? Will you enjoy your time running the distance? These answers will all depend on how much you believe in yourself. In other words, it is a good idea to work on your mental health way ahead of the event proper.
Our Half Marathon Training Schedule
Here’s our fantastic 10 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule:
We strongly advise that you consult with a doctor before beginning any long distance training especially if you are not used to regular exercise
Half Marathon Training Schedule Hints & Tips
- Training Tip #1 – You can add to your cross training by trying cycling, swimming, or aerobics. Limit this to an hour only.
- Training Tip #2 – At the end of week 2, your muscles could be experiencing pain and stress so it’s important to avoid pushing yourself to the point of experiencing more pain. Use some stretching techniques to avoid discomfort and prevent injury.
- Training Tip #3 – Exchanging the treadmill for runs is not going to work. It will not prepare you for the effect of the weather on your running and other considerations like cars, other runners, terrain, noise, even pollution. However, you can use the treadmill on your cross training times.
- Training Tip #4 – After week 4, consider adjusting your diet as you are now increasing distance. You might also want to go in for a medical check-up if you are experiencing consistent pain
REMEMBER:If you feel weak or seriously fatigued, take an additional rest day. It won’t affect your training to much and will help to prevent injury.
|Week 1||Light introductory run (good time to test some new gear) Plan your route. Stretch for 15-20 minutes. Go on a 1 to 3 mile run. Warm down.||Stretch. Run for 3 miles with a 1 mile warm up and warm down lap.||Rest day||Do some weights. To strengthen legs and abdomen Limit it to 8 cycles, shorter if you start to feel pain. Follow this up with another 3 mile run with an additional 1 mile warm down if your feeling up to it. Limit this to one hour only.||Cross train for 1-1.30 hours. (Try to visit a cross trainer at the gym, or try another sport to work other muscle groups)||Target a 6-7 mile run with 1 mile warm up and warm downs included. Attempts Target under 1 hour||Rest day|
|Week 2||Kicking week 2 off with your second 6-7 mile with 1 mile warm up and warm downs||30 mins of stretching to loosen up some muscles and to help prevent injury. A light 2-3 mile mile recovery run||It’s time for a pacing run – aim for a 6 mile run in under 1 hour. Try to push as hard as possible (we have a rest day tomorow)||Rest day||Interval session – 7 Mile Fartlek (3 minute sprints followed by 3 minute jogging – find out more about what Fartlek runs are and why they’re effective)||Target a long run, push yourself remember you’ll have your feet up tomorrow, were looking for any distance between 7-10 miles||Rest day|
|Week 3||Targeted run – Increase to 8 miles with a target of 1:15||Another Fartlek (3 minute sprints followed by 3 minute jogging) run – target: 7 Miles with a 2 mile warm down jog to loosen those muscles||Cross training & weights – spend at least one hour with the weights focussing on the core. (Tip: Circuit training can be really good for strengthening the bodies core).||Rest day||We’re going long distance! This is your first real distance test, push yourself and go for 10+ miles||Target a shorter run with aching muscles, attempt a 5 mile cross country run. For added difficulty, attempt to find a route with elevation to help strengthen leg muscles.||Rest day|
|Week 4||Another targeted run – Increase to 8 miles with a target of 1:15||Fartlek (3 minute sprints followed by 3 minute jogging) run – target: 10 Miles including a 2 mile warm down jog. Push push push!||Rest day||Cross train regular 7 mile run. Target 1:05||We’re going long distance again! Target is a 12 mile easy run (don’t push too hard but try to make the distance)||7 mile Fartlek run – we’re going shorter after a long week so push before your rest day.||Rest day|
|Week 5||Small cross training session followed by a regular run – let target 7 miles under 1:15||10 mile Fartlek run (3 minute sprints followed by 3 minute jogging) include a 2 mile warm down jog.||Rest day||Lets pace, were going full distance for the first time! Go for a 12.3 miles with a target a 1:45 time. Don’t be disheartened if your final time is some way off. There are weeks remaining and your times will improve.||Strength training for up to an hour – focus on core muscles (Remember, don’t lift heavy weights, think low weight high repetition)||Take 2 days of rest.. you earned it this week! This might be a good time for a sports massage. Recovery is key to preventing injury.||Rest day|
|Week 6||Cross training session followed by a regular run – lets target 9 miles under 1:20||Full distance 12.3 mile Fartlek run (3 minute sprints followed by 3 minute jogging), This will help to build muscle in those legs||Focussing again on core with additional work on the legs. (Squat would be good, use all the energy in your legs to build muscle today).||Rest day||Light jog, 6 miles conserve the energy and enjoy the run||Full half marathon distance today with a 12.3 miles – push as hard as you can and record the time||Rest day|
|Week 7||Cross training with no run today, legs will still need a rest. A good swimming session might be sensible to keep the heart rate high but spread the effort on all muscles of the body.||10 mile Fartlek run – they can be horrible but Fartlek’s are effective at building muscle and fitness||Rest day||Light jog, 8 miles conserve the energy and enjoy the run||Full half marathon distance today with a 12.3 miles – push as hard as you can and record the time||Use the last of this weeks energy reserves to go for an additional run aim for at least 8 miles but keep going if you can||Rest day|
|Week 8||Almost 2 months into training and should be really feeling the benefits. Today will see us attempt a 14 mile run – pushing for 12.3 miles and a 1.7 mile warm down jog to finish.||4 mile sprint – you may still be hurting from yesterday so we’re keeping the distance small – but push for the entirety of the run.||Rest day||Full half marathon distance with a 12.3 miles – try to shave off 5 – 10 minutes of last weeks time||Light run but important to keep the distance up – aim for 8+ miles||Rest day|
|Week 9+||Continue with week 8 training for the next few weeks, esuring that you continue to include cross training within your routine. You can possibly look to increase the distance or attempt to increase your pace to reduce your overall running time. This will become easier with practice. Also remember that rest is key, your body will need time to recover between training runs.
Finally, in the weeks before you run it is important to taper. Tapering is when you reduce the frequency and intensity of your training to a minimum. This allows your body to be fully recovered and prepared for your event and will ensure that you produce the best performance possible.