You’ve tackled a few 5Ks and you already have a couple of 10Ks under your belt. What’s next? We guess you’re more than ready to sign up for your first half marathon.
But training for a 13.1 is very different from preparing yourself for a 5K or a 10K. Before you get started, read on for five tips that will help you stick with your goal and cross that finish line with confidence!
Commit to your end goal
Whether you’re a total newbie or an experienced runner, training for a half marathon requires a lot of time and energy. During your training there will be plenty of reasons not to run – you’re tired, you’re busy, the weather is too cold or too hot, your running clothes are dirty. But those are just excuses, and if you really want to cross the finish line, you will have to overcome them all!
Start by asking yourself “Why do I want to race a half marathon?”. Do you want to shed a few pounds, raise money for a cause or set a personal best? Whatever your reason, this will serve as your end goal, your primary motivation throughout the training and on race day.
Have a plan
If you think you can keep on using the same 10K training program to train for your first half marathon, you’re wrong. Running 13.1 miles is a lot different than 6.2.
Choose a training plan that gives you plenty of time to train before race day and make sure it includes some cross-training, stretching and strength exercises, besides the traditional long runs.
If you are at least 12 weeks away from the race day, Half Marathon Novice 1 can help you cross the finish line with a smile on your face. Based on Hal Higdon’s training plans, Half Marathon Novice 1 advises you to run three days a week, cross train two days a week and allow your body to rest when scheduled. During this training program, you will be running two regular runs and one long run each week, until you’re half marathon ready!
Longer distances require different gear.
Start by buying two supportive pair of sneakers instead of just one. Having two pairs of shoes when you start your training sounds like an an expensive outlay in cash, but it actually helps extend the life of each pair by giving them recovery time between runs. Plus, recent studies suggest that alternating between a couple different pairs of shoes in training can decrease injury risk by varying the load to your musculoskeletal system.
In addition, make sure you add wicking and seamless socks, shorts or pants and tops to your shopping list. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses with 100-percent UV protection and a running hat to protect your face from the sun. And don’t forget to have a comfortable armband to hold your phone or iPod, that you will definitely want to carry for your longer runs!
At this point, you already know how important it is to eat right before you lace up and get out there. But as you increase the mileage and start running up to 10 miles a week, it’s very important to reconsider your fueling strategy so you don’t end up hitting the “wall” on longer training runs.
Aim to consume 150 to 200 calories for every hour of running. GU, a banana, Luna Sport Moons, packets of honey or jelly beans are great options and very easy to carry with you.
Work on your mental fitness
The two most important things you can take to the starting line on race day are confidence and motivation. On longer runs, it’s easy to get bored, focus on the pain you’re feeling and, eventually, want to give up.
Just as you practice to improve your speed or your strength, it’s important to train your mental muscle as well. During your training, imagine yourself on race day and going through all the challenges that you will have to overcome. Being mentally prepared allows all the work you’re putting into achieving your goal to manifest itself on the race course.
Yes – the half is HUGE these days! I remember when I first heard about “half marathons” back when it felt like only elite athletes ran fulls and I thought it was such a great (though daunting) idea. Now it’s my favorite distance 🙂 I have a TON of weight loss patients who make a half their main fitness goal and these tips are all great. Nutritionally, I feel that it’s the distance where runners have no choice but to be mindful of choosing healthier foods all the time (in addition to properly fueling long runs) due to the greater stress placed on the body and increased nutrient demands.
Thank you for your comment! Eating healthy is a big part of being a runner. It’s amazing you’re experiencing it with your patients! I’m sure you have a lot of great success stories!