Half Marathon Training Top Tips

A half marathon is just over 13 miles, or 21.0975 km, or half the distance of a regular marathon. It is a popular race that’s also referred to as the 21K. According to a 2008 report by Running USA, it’s the fastest growing type of race.  It is popular because the length makes it challenging, yet it doesn’t require as much training as a regular marathon requires.

Before You Begin

Before beginning a training program for the half marathon, have a checkup to be sure you are in good physical condition.  It’s also important to buy proper running shoes to avoid injury.

Pre-training

Before you begin to train for a half marathon, you should run for at least two months, and be able to run at least 30 minutes without stopping. It’s best to be running at least 8 to 10 miles per week before you start training.  It’s also a good idea, though not required, to run a 5 or 10K race before you begin a training schedule. This will give you experience of running a road race, as well as give you an idea of how long it might take you to run a half-marathon.

Choosing a Half Marathon Training Plan

Half marathon training plans range from 10 to 16 weeks.  Plans vary in the types of workout, length of runs, days of running, and so on. Pick one that will work with your schedule and your level of fitness. Some plans are labeled Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Experienced. Pick the one that best suits you. For beginners, it’s best to choose a training program of at least 12 weeks. You can even push the training out further, if needed.

Warm-ups

Be sure to do some warm-up exercises before running to avoid injury. Stretching exercises help to limber up the muscles before a run.

Pace

Run at a comfortable pace while training. You should not be winded. Take your time, the speed will come later.

Distance

Most training programs will have you run from 3 – 10 miles per day, three or four days of the week. The distance starts at 3 miles and works up to 10 miles in the last week or two of training.

Cross-Training

Cross training is an important part of half marathon training. Certain days are specified for cross training, which can include swimming, cycling, walking, cross-country skiing, using an elliptical or rowing machine, or other aerobic activities.

Nutrition

how to train for a half marathonIt’s important to eat properly when training for a half-marathon. Your diet should have plenty of carbs and protein.  Approximately 65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, and at least 10% of your calories should come from protein.

Good sources of protein include chicken, fish, yogurt, nuts, lean beef, beans and peanut butter. Good carbohydrate sources include potatoes, beans, raisins, wheat bread, cereal, spaghetti, macaroni, brown rice and bananas.  You should be eating these foods long before you even begin your half marathon training.

Before running, you should eat a light snack.  Bananas have been found to give athletes increased energy, and, therefore, are an excellent snack before a run.

Hydrate

Increase your fluid intake during training. It’s important to stay hydrated. During a run, drink at least 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink or you will become dehydrated. Sports drinks and water are the best choice of fluids.  Be sure to drink plenty at least 2 hours before a run and the 2 hours following a run.

Typical Training Schedule

Most training schedules designate Mondays as rest days. You may want to do some stretches and strength training on Mondays. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally running days, with some training schedules designating one of those days as strength or cross training.  Fridays are often rest days in half marathon training schedules. Saturday is usually either a long run day or rest day, and Sunday is the opposite of Saturday. For example, if your schedule is a long run on Saturday, Sunday is usually a rest day. If you rest on Saturday, Sunday is a long run. Of course, the days vary with the different training schedules, but this is the typical format.

Summary

Before beginning half marathon training, you should be running for at least 2 or 3 months and a distance of approximately 8 to 10 miles per week.  Improve your diet before beginning your training program, making sure to get the proper amount of carbohydrates and protein. Drink lots of fluids, preferably water or sports drinks. Get a checkup before you begin training to be sure you are in good physical condition. If you follow these tips your half marathon training should go smoothly and you should be able to finish the race with ease.

References

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