Training for a Half-Marathon
Running a half marathon might seem like a
lofty goal, but with the right preparation, it can be easier than you think.
While you'll need a lot of motivation and a few months of training behind you,
unlike a full marathon, running a 21 kilometre stretch is possible for most
people. Let's take a look at some of the important steps you'll need to take
along the way, from choosing an event and buying equipment through to training
and finding enough motivation to keep you on track.
While all half marathons are 21.1
kilometres in length, they are not all created equal. Before committing to a
long term training plan, it's normally a good idea to choose a future event so
you can start visualising and make appropriate preparations. It's often a good
idea to choose a local event the first time around, with most people also
looking for a relatively flat course. While a competitive line-up with lots of
hilly terrain can be great for experienced runners, most first-timers will
benefit from a more relaxed race.
When choosing an event, it's important to
give yourself at least 3-4 months to train, with real beginners often needing
up to a year. If you've never trained seriously before, it’s important to start
slow at the outset, with huge distances or large volumes a sure-fire recipe for
injury. Once you have a specific goal and timeline in mind, it's important to
get the right gear to help you on your way. Quality running shoes are
absolutely essential for long distances, with good shorts and socks also important.
While some people also benefit from fitness trackers and MP3 players, for
others they are an expensive distraction.
It may be a good idea to start walking
before you run, making the switch to jogging after a few weeks and plenty of
kilometres under foot. By running three or four times a week, including one
longer run that gets closer to 21 kilometres over the training period, you can
slowly gain the confidence you need to tackle larger distances. Along with
distance runs, tempo runs can also be used to build your confidence and improve
your speed. They should be performed at a comfortably hard pace, meaning faster
than your easy runs but not so tough that you’re breathing heavily. It's also a
good idea to mix your cardio workouts with strength and flexibility training,
with the local gym a great place to find the motivation you need.
It's important to look at the bigger
picture when training for a half marathon, by paying close attention to your
diet and stress levels and making sure you get enough rest. Whether you can
manage a few days each week or an entire dry month, alcohol-free time is
important while you train, especially if you like running in the mornings. In
order to stick to your training and avoid burnout, it's also important to
balance the responsibilities and enjoyment of family, work, and training. While
running is traditionally a solitary activity, a group of friends or a local
running group may give you the boost you need to hit the pavement when your
motivation levels are low.
Image source: YanLev/Shutterstock