You’ve run your first 5K and found yourself bitten by the running bug – now you need another challenge.
A 10K might appeal, but for many – the lure of a half marathon is the ideal next challenge.
Half Marathon Training Tips For Beginners
It may seem hard to believe but training for your first half-marathon is actually a lot like training for your first 5K… the only real difference is the distances (and occasionally the running shoes you use.)
1: Build Your Base
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If you’re looking to step up to half marathon distance, the most important thing to do is to start building your base.
Remember when you started training for that first run and you gradually increased the distance – well the same theory still applies.
If you’re starting from scratch then you’ll need to start your base building a good 6 months out from race day – the demands of training for a half marathon can be quite tough and unless you have a good starting point, it’s got the potential to cause you damage.
2: Pick A Training Plan
Picking a half marathon training plan is quite a personal experience, but we do have some great pointers.
Be honest with yourself
The first part of picking a plan is to be honest with yourself. How many hours do you realistically have to train each week? Remember that family, friends and work all take their toll.
How far away is race day?
A typical half marathon plan is around 12 weeks but if your race is closer than that, you may need a 10 or even 8-week plan.
How suitable is the plan?
It’s always worth looking at the weekly mileage where possible. If you’re starting from a comfortable 5K base then you’ll want a plan that gradually increases the distance. There’s no point starting with a plan that recommends 10K runs if you’re not already comfortable at that distance.
3: Think quality over quantity
The old school method of marathon training was to just run miles and miles each week. Sure it’ll get you round – but if you want to make the most of your training time then you’ll want to put your grey matter to good use and start training smarter.
Modern training plans are typically based on running 4 times a week and recovering the other days. A modern training plan may look like:
- 1 x long run
- 2 x quality “tempo” runs
- 1 x longer easy run
These plans put real focus on your training. Easy runs must be easy and the harder runs demand maximum focus and effort.
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Sometimes you just can’t run. If you can’t get outside for a run then cross training can be an extremely worthwhile substitute.
Swimming and cycling are both great cardio alternatives that also have the added benefit of being low impact.
5: Buddy Up
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Training on your own can suck!
Once you get deep into a training cycle it’s quite common for motivation to start slipping and there’s no better way to get your mojo back than by finding a friend to run with.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need to train on your jack jones but training with your pals can be so much more motivational.
6: Research the race
The ancient Chinese general and philosopher once said:
“Now, the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.”
While we may not be going into battle – it is always worth researching the race before hand.
Picking out key landmarks, knowing where feed stations and toilets are can all help build your confidence when running.
Unless you’re running a brand new event, chances are that your favourite running forum will be able to provide you with past race reports and details of races.
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I believe that rest as important to your training as running.
Never, ever skip a rest day – they have been purposefully added to give your body chance to recover.