Don’t let the mileage daunt you – with the right approach to training, a half marathon medal can be within your grasp. Just follow our tips.
Give yourself enough time to train
How long you need to train for your first half marathon varies depending on your current fitness goals. If you’ve recently completed a 10k, you could be doing your first half marathon in 8 weeks, while those new to running will need six months or more.
Build up to your half marathon slowly
As motivated as you may be to start training, running is a high-impact sport and you need to build up your mileage gradually. Starting with three times a week or every other day is generally a safe bet, and this can be progressed as your body gets stronger. Try not to build your weekly volume by more than ten percent.
A good half marathon plan will help you build up your mileage safely.
Start where you are now
It’s easy to get bamboozled by all the half marathon plans on offer. Ours are a good place to start. However, if you’re starting your marathon training from zero you’ll need to build up your running before you can start most half-marathon training plans. Use a 0-5k plan first to get you started.
If you’re returning to running after a break because of illness, injury or because life got in the way, a half marathon can be a great goal to get back to your old routine. Try not to compare yourself to your old running fitness and start your training at your current level, not where you were before your break. Depending on how long you’ve had off, this might mean doing a 5K training plan first.
Be realistic with your half marathon plan
A half marathon needs preparation, but be realistic about how much time you can devote to training. It’s better to use a plan that you can be consistent with from the start. Look at your work schedule and family life, and think about what is achievable in the time you have. A lot can be achieved with three runs a week, but how you use those runs is the important part.
set small milestones
Build in smaller milestones on your way to completing your first half marathon and celebrate your progress as you tick them off. For those starting as a beginner, work towards a 5K or 10K plan in the build-up to your half marathon. A local 5K parkrun is a great way to start and can provide a benchmark of your fitness, while allowing you to meet and socialize with like-minded runners.
Most beginner training plans begin with a run-walk program – but run-walking or Jeffing as it’s sometimes called) isn’t just for beginners. Many experienced runners use Jeffing too. Whatever race or training run distance you’re doing, you can break this up into running and walking intervals. So, for example, you might run for 1 minute every kilometer. This can help to break down the distance mentally, give your body a much-needed mini break and can even result in a faster overall time.
Join a running club
Running is more fun and much easier when you do it with other runners. Look into joining a local running club or group. You’ll get new training buddies and there will be coaches on hand to give you advice for your training. If you’re training for a local half marathon, it’s likely that other members will be too and you can have company on your long runs.
Add cross training and strength sessions
Cross training such as cycling or swimming will allow you to build fitness while not placing as much strain on your body. Cross training is a great addition to any training plan but is particularly good for those new to running as they place far less impact on your legs. Try 30 minutes of your favorite cross training activity each week and build up from there.
Regular strength training, focusing on your core and bum, can help you avoid injuries and will make you a stronger, more resilient runner.