Deciding to tackle your first half marathon is a big thing. The thought of pounding that pavement for longer than the running time of lots of movies can feel intense.
If you’re on a mission to complete the 13.2, it will be well worth it. The runners high will be real.
But, it requires some attention. You’ll need to think about your training and how you can support and look after your body as it builds up those miles. Remaining injury free is a must.
So, Hussle’s here with some tips and a training plan for your first half marathon.
Mix it up
In the build up to your half marathon, you’ll do lots of different length runs in practice. These will slowly build up in distance as you near the end of your plan. It can be easy to just focus on the length of a run but mixing it up with speed and incline will benefit your endurance and prepare you for race day. You can do this in addition to your core runs or play around with your shortest distance of the week. Get on that treadmill and test yourself with interval sprints and inclines. After just a few times, you’ll notice a difference in your stamina.
Your body uses a mixture of carbs and fat to fuel itself when running. The carbs are much more readily available to convert when exercising and are stored as glycogen in your muscles. After about 90 minutes of continual running, your body will start to deplete its stores and you’ll start to slow. It’ll turn to its fat stores for energy. You should be able to complete a half marathon without requiring fuel mid run. But, if you find yourself wavering, think you’ll take much longer than two hours to finish the distance, or just feel better when you have it, then carry a sports drink with you for a swig or two in your final 45 minutes.
When it comes to fuelling, what you want focus more on is making sure you’re full of energy pre-race. Try and increase your carbohydrate intake the day before the race, your overall number of calories doesn’t need to change but just make a larger proportion of those calories come from carbohydrates. Think baked potatoes, pasta and bread. The morning of, aim for a carb-based breakfast. Porridge oats are a runner’s favourite for a reason. Make sure you eat 2-3 hours pre-race to give yourself time to digest fully.
Listen to your body
It’s easy to become obsessed with how many miles you’ve managed to get under your belt. But what’s just as important, is having a healthy body and legs to complete the full distance on the day. If you’re following your training plan and start to feel overly fatigued, too tight in certain muscles, or are experiencing pain in any area, then take a break. Skip a session. It’s much better to get back to your best than to push through and end up making yourself sick or giving yourself an injury.
Strength training for runners
When training for your first half marathon, it’s normal to become a little obsessed with things like miles. And pace. And splits. It’s easy to channel all our mental and physical energy into the running and the running only. Pounding the pavement again and again in order to improve and get faster. But don’t neglect the things that are going to support us on the way. Strength training is crucial to make sure your muscles can maintain your proper running form. During your training, these sessions are just as important as your runs. Without muscles that can support your movements and the impact on your joints, runners are prone to injury. Talk about poor form.