How To Train For A Half Marathon? A Complete Guide
Just about anyone can complete the half marathon with the proper training. The key is to build up slowly, have consistency and follow the right training plan. That way, it will prevent you from being side-lined by injuries.
Unfortunately, many runners often get carried away when following a training plan. They either commit too much (doing everything, regardless of how the body feels) or end up not committing enough.
In this article, we discuss how to train for a half marathon, how to choose the right half marathon training plan, and what you should wear and eat for the event.
How Should I Train For My First Half Marathon?
If you haven’t trained for a half marathon before or even another event, the key is to put in enough weekly mileage so your body will be comfortable with the distance.
However, before starting the process of ramping up your volume, you must plan your event for at least two months out. This will give you enough time to prepare for the half marathon.
For newer runners, that might mean starting with 15 kilometers a week and building up to a peak of 40 to 50 kilometers.
For more experienced runners, it may mean starting at 30 kilometers or more a week and building up to 60 or 70 kilometers per week.
During the first eight weeks of your training plan, the focus should be on volume. This can be done through various distance runs throughout the week and one long run over the weekend.
For most beginners, the first eight weeks should not include any intensity. The goal is to increase your endurance and the body’s ability to handle the training load.
Once you have completed the first eight weeks of training, you should add some intense workouts into your mid-week training.
One of the best workouts you can add to the training during this period is a tempo run.
A tempo run is a moderate-to-hard intensity that lasts between 15 to 40 minutes. The intensity of this workout should be around 6 out of 10 in perceived exertion. This type of workout is not as intense as intervals. So as a beginner, it will help introduce intensity into the training plan without too much stress on the body. It can also help improve your lactate threshold and speed over the half marathon distance.
Regardless of the volume or intensity, you are running each week. You will need to slowly increase the mileage each week and then implement a recovery week every 3 to 4 weeks. This will help the body recover and shed any fatigue from the past few weeks of training.
How Do I Choose The Right Half Marathon Training Plan?
Knowing how to train for a half marathon is one thing many people won’t know. That’s where following a half marathon training plan is the right choice. However, how do you choose the right half marathon training plan?
A good half marathon training plan should consist of a well-planned layout that includes:
– Adequate rest
– Adequate recovery days
– Slow increase in mileage
– Variation in the training
– A peak week of volume
– Regular recovery weeks
– Tapering into the event
The right half marathon training plan should be customized to suit your lifestyle, fitness, and time available. That’s why we don’t generally recommend pre-made training plans, as these don’t take into account your fitness, past injuries, time available, and lifestyle.
Most running coaches can customize your training plan for the half marathon regardless if you have 8 weeks, 12 weeks, or 20 weeks to train for the event.
Alternatively, check out our half marathon training plans online. Not only are they customized individually, but you will learn how to train for a half marathon along the way.
What Should I Wear For A Half Marathon?
Luckily, running is one of the cheapest sports to do. You can do it anywhere, and it requires very little equipment.
However, when it comes to running a half marathon, the equipment you use is important. Picking the right shoes for your running technique can help prevent injuries, while the correct clothing can prevent chafing during training and the event.
If you are unsure what shoes are best for you, have a running gait analysis performed or have a local running store look at your foot strike on the treadmill. They will then be able to recommend the right shoe for you.
For clothing, it is important to stay away from cotton. Purchase some specialty running clothes that fit well. It can help prevent chafing and allow sweat to disperse easier from the body. Thus, keeping you cool and comfortable while running.
What Should I Eat During A Half Marathon?
Apart from your training, nutrition plays a big part in how well you do during the half marathon. Energy gels, simple carbohydrates, and sports drinks are all forms of energy that should be taken during the event. Regardless if you take energy gels or food, they should always be drip-fed into the body. That means taking in calories every 5 kilometers of the event. This will prevent a drop in blood sugar levels and keep your energy stable throughout the half marathon.
During your build-up to the event, it is wise to practice what you plan to eat on race day. This can help test the body’s ability to process the food while running.
Often beginners forget to do this and end up with stomach problems on race day. That is why you will need to trial your nutrition during training and especially during your long runs.
If you are unsure what you should eat during training and on race day, speak to a dietitian. They can help guide you with the correct energy intake and help plan out how often you need to eat.