Are you going to run a half marathon as part of a charity event soon? Or just trying to prove yourself that you are not just a couch potato? Well, then this is for you. Here is a list of tips and tricks on how to train for a half marathon, taken straight from the lips of the pros. While not intended to be exhaustive, this article will provide you with some hints that you’re on your way to success, while giving you some little-known information.
Top 6 Training Tips for Your Half Marathon
Start by working on your baseline
Surely you’ve heard of 12 to 14 week plans that prepare you for marathons, however those cannot work wonders. They are not meant to transform people from couch potatoes into marathon runners, but to improve the resistance of actual runners. If you want to know how to train for a half marathon, start by building a baseline of 15 to 20 miles per week in total, and be able to run at least 5 miles in your longest session.
Choose a longer plan
Since the plans you can find online vary from 10 to 16 weeks, which is more than one time and a half, you may be wondering why there is such a big difference. Those 6 extra weeks are there to help your body adjust to your new routine at a slow pace, or help you recover the time lost after an injury. This helps in particular if you have a lower energy level that doesn’t allow you to train daily. And speaking of that, check out the next tip for proper recovery.
Plan for recovery
Your body needs time to heal and you need to get your strength back after a few intense sessions. This is why part of how to train for a half marathon is allowing for enough rest. When you feel burned down and lack energy, look for signs that you may be over training. Check your pulse in the morning, right after waking up. If you notice it is just a little higher than it should, it means you need to give yourself a rest day.
Alternate your routine
Each week, alternate 2 short runs with 2 longer ones. To create your marathon pace, make the short session begin and end with a warming and cooling period. The session in between should be composed of intermittent 5-minute sessions alternating at normal and slower paces. This will help you improve muscles oxygenation and help build resistance against the lactic acid burning in your leg muscles.
Prepare your body and mind
Finding a group of runners to train with can do miracles for your morale. A little competition and company will help you not to give up before the starting line. Add a little cross training to your normal routine and work your core muscles. This will help you improve your running resistance. Get on the elliptical bike, swim, row, or cycle.
Take it gradually and help your body however you can
Surely you already know that you should slowly build your aerobic effort resistance and general stamina. Before the marathon, all the runs should be increasingly longer and look gradually more realistic. At the same time, give yourself a good rest right before the marathon. Try to find out what kind of sports drink you’ll be allowed, and use those during your normal trainings.
A Training Plan Best Suited for Beginners
Day 1 – Light training or rest
If this is your very first day, then you should not be resting. This is a day of rest only during the plan, when you had a long distance run just the day before. So in your very first day, start with a light workout that will not leave you exhausted for the week, like yoga or swimming. During the plan, you can rest, cross-train, or go out and enjoy a walk.
Day 2 – 3 miles
In the day 2 of the plan, focus on covering 3 miles while feeling good. Your heart rate should be at around 65% of your maximum aerobic capacity. This run isn’t about maintaining a high pace but about building resistance. Alternatively, you can do some aerobic cross training.
Day 3 – 1 mile up for beginners/Tempo run for the advanced
Maintain the routine from the previous day but aim to add 1 extra mile to your running session. The easy days should stay easy, so you will have enough energy left for the hard days. The experienced runners should replace this day with a tempo run. The same goes for the beginners after week 5.
Day 4 – Light training or rest
If you are tired from yesterday’s run, today is time to rest. Remember that your muscles need time to recover. If you aren’t so tired, you can do some light exercise, like stretching, swimming, or yoga.
Day 5 – 2 miles
Today you do a 2 miles easy run. You should keep a diary to track your progress and goals. Seeing what you have accomplished can help you stay on track when you feel like breaking the routine.
Day 6 – Light training or rest
It is very good if you can do some light cross training on the rest days, but don’t push yourself and risk injury if you can’t. It is good if you can do strength training instead of light aerobic, because it will build your endurance, but don’t lift heavy weights prior to a long distance running.
Day 7 – 5 miles
The big day has arrived. Today you will do your first long run. They are meant to build endurance, so the most important thing is to cover the entire distance you set out for, which is 5 miles. You should alternate periods of faster and slower runs, especially if this is your first week. If you feel that you can’t run anymore, then walk. Try whatever you can to cover the 5 miles you set out for.