Planning for your first half marathon

Planning for your first half marathon

Stepping up to your first half marathon can be a bit daunting but incredibly exciting all at the same time. You’ve chosen your race and you are starting to feel the exhilaration of the challenge ahead.

So what now? Here are a few things to do to get you started on a successful run.

1. Register!

Once you’ve made the commitment, the excitement starts to build and you are more likely to stick to a regular training schedule.

Put your race confirmation in a prominent place so that it gives you motivation to put on your running shoes.

Register Now

2. Consider inviting friends and family

Knowing special people are coming to cheer you on can also add extra motivation.

Initially it may feel a bit daunting but in those last few kms, there’s nothing quite like having a cheering, jumping support crew screaming out your name!

3. Get a training plan

Following a training plan will help to keep you on track as well as ensuring you don’t burn out or over-train. There are lots of generic plans on the internet as well as apps like Nike and Asics which offer very good daily training plans. I have attached a basic beginner plan as an example.

I’m a big fan of runners having individualised training plans which can be adjusted to suit the runner as they progress. It’s well worth finding a running coach who can help you with this. Often those coaches come as part of your local running group, with the added benefit that you’ll also get some great companions to keep you entertained on your long runs!

View a Novice Level Example Half Marathon Program prepared by Shena Dale - Physiotherapist.

4. Follow a few simple training guidelines

The 10% rule

This is a great guideline for a longer distance like a half marathon. What does it mean? Very simply, you want to ensure that you don’t increase your total training load or mileage by more than 10% each week. By increasing gradually, your body will have time to adapt to the training load and help to keep you away from injury.

Build in hills gradually

Hills often spark fear in new and seasoned runners alike. But used correctly, hill training can be tremendously beneficial to your fitness (as well as to your confidence when you find that hill towards the end of your race!) I find the best way to tackle hills is by ‘stealth’ - build them gradually into your running program so you barely notice they are there. One or two hills during your normal run will start to make them feel commonplace then once you feel confident with those, try 3-4 hill repeats every 2nd week or so. Don’t be afraid to walk them initially if you need to.

Use intervals sparingly

You may have heard the term ‘intervals’ and wonder what exactly it means. This is traditionally how runners build speed or pace work into their program. An example of an beginner interval program (after a good warm up) would be 400m at 10km race pace, followed by an easy 400m jog/walk and repeat 2-3 times. Intervals are great for building fitness but should be used with care (not more than once a week for novice runners) as they can increase your injury risk.

Schedule rest days

Rest and recovery is an important part of the body’s ability to adapt to training and get stronger. Ideally you should have a rest day after your long run day or any other hard workout day. It’s also a great idea to have a slightly easier week of training every 3-4 weeks of your training program. Giving your body that time to recover will help you get more out of your training in the following weeks. Consider your rest days as a reward for all your hard work! Remember also – you are training to do well on race day. The goal is to peak for this, not to achieve a personal best every time you run.

That should get you off to a great start on your half marathon training. Over the next few weeks I look forward to putting together a series of videos and articles to help you get the most out of your training for all distances in the Jetty to Jetty Fun Run.

Now don’t forget… Register, get your program and start training! Good luck and I hope to see you out on the road.

Author: Shena Dale

Shena is a talented running physiotherapists at Scarborough Physio and Health. Shena works with clients to create specialised running programs for people who are wanting to improve their running style, or who are aiming to compete in an events.

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Happy Running!