If you’re a runner who has completed some 5Ks and 10Ks, taking on a half marathon can seem daunting. But it’s doable. Especially if you follow these tips for half marathon training.
Obviously, half marathon training involves more miles and a potentially stricter training regimen than shorter distances. You shouldn’t just wing it – have a plan and follow it to be successful. Ultimately, you have to get the miles in to be ready to finish 13.1 on race day.
Here are some tips as you prepare your half marathon training:
- Make a plan – Check out the many running resources online, in running magazines and at your local running store to determine how your schedule will look. Generally these plans include some easy runs, some speed and interval work and long runs. Decide how often you will run each week and on what days you will take on different runs. Map out your mileage increases according to where you are now and how long you have to prepare for the race.
- Consider a running group – Many local communities have running groups that meet once or twice a week and run together. Some people thrive on this direction, commitment and new friendships. Search online, ask your local running store, or chat with the runners you see at the health club.
- Cross train – Although many runners just want to hit the pavement, research shows that you’ll run more efficiently and be less prone to injury if you incorporate some cross training, which includes strength training and some low or zero impact work, such as the Octane Zero Runner, the elliptical and swimming. Again, Runner’s World and several online resources can guide you in strength training plans.
- Stretch – It might seem like a no-brainer, but stretch after you run to maintain flexibility and range of motion – and just to feel better. Studies are somewhat inconclusive as to whether stretching really can help prevent injuries, but it certainly can ease stiff, tight muscles and keep you looser for your next run. You can incorporate dynamic and static stretches – the important thing is to do them! Foam rollers are particularly helpful in easing tension as well.
- Rest – Overtraining often leads to injury, and runners are particularly prone to injuries due to the impact they subject their bodies to regularly. Don’t run everyday – in fact, don’t exercise everyday – but be sure to take a day or two off each week for recovery. Recovery is critical because that’s when we get stronger and heal from all the stress we impose during exercise. If you just can’t sit still, do active recovery, like a walk, an easy bike ride, yoga, Pilates and even a short jog on the Zero Runner.
- Drink water – It’s easy to get dehydrated and not even know it, and this will impair your performance. Not only that, but it can lead to headaches and fatigue. If your urine is dark yellow, chances are you are dehydrated. Tote water for longer runs and drink throughout the day. Keep a water bottle with you at work, at home or in the car. And coffee, soda and alcohol don’t count – they are diuretics.
- Eat smart – When you’re putting in a lot of miles, it’s tempting to think you can eat whatever you want. Most of us over about 35 years know this isn’t true. While you certainly can treat yourself now and then when you are training, your body will run better when you choose fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. In other words, choose fresh food when you can and limit processed items – and reduce your intake of high-fat, high-sugar selections. You don’t necessarily have to eliminate pizza, or chocolate or whatever your favorites are – but choose to eat well at least 80 percent of the time and then enjoy yourself the remaining 20 percent.
- Keep plugging – While you may have setbacks in training, and there may be times that you want to quit, keep going. Don’t give up. You will be surprised at what your body can do. And be proud at the finish line!