Running your first half marathon
Many beginners think running a successful 5km, 10km, or half marathon is impossible. However, if you train smart, have the desire and dedication, you will be able to complete any distance.
Committing to training for a 5km, 10km, or half marathon is a rewarding journey, so lace up your shoes, and let us start the journey to completing your chosen distance.
Who can run a half marathon?
Anyone that has the dedication can successfully train and then complete a half marathon. However, if you have some musculoskeletal injuries or recent surgery, talk with your doctor first before starting any training regime.
If you have never been physically active before, speak with a dedicated running coach that can help you plan your training around your current fitness level. They will help make modifications to your 5km, 10km, or half marathon training plan.
With any training, planning and preparation can help you make informed decisions and prepare you in the best possible shape. Testing yourself with a fitness assessment can help you gain awareness about your current fitness level. This will help you establish your fitness goals and also set your training zones for the half marathon.
Set goals for your event
Ask yourself, why are you training for a half marathon? And what do you want to accomplish? Setting goals can help you track your progress, help you stay on track, and build motivation. All of this is required to help you become successful in running your first half marathon.
Choose the right half marathon training plan
Choosing the right half marathon training plan suited to your needs is essential. Whether your goal is a half marathon, or to start with a 5km or 10km event first. Picking the right training plan can help you reach your goals and stay injury-free.
You can find many online training plans ranging from 8 weeks up to 15 weeks or longer. Picking the desired length requires you to understand your current fitness level, and also the date of the event.
If you are planning on preparing a plan yourself, work back from the date of the race, so you know when you should start preparing for the event.
Remember not to rush your training and implement recovery weeks to allow for adaption and recovery.
If you just started reading this and your event is weeks away, choose another event that will help you prepare adequately. This will allow adequate time to build up to full fitness.
If you are a more experienced runner with a background in running, look for running coaches that can help structure your training. Not only will this help you reach the event in top shape, but help get the best out of your training time. There are many coaches available both online and in your current region, so interview as many coaches as possible and find the right fit for you.
Progression in your training
If you have been training at an intensity of 50%–65% of your target heart rate range, you may find its time to implement harder workouts. Start to increase the intensity level slightly up to 70%–75% for a portion of your run. Doing so will allow you to adapt to more strenuous sessions later down the track. Make sure you only speed short periods at this hear rate, rather than trying to complete the entire run at this intensity.
Remember when starting a half marathon training plan, too much intensity too soon can lead to discomfort, fatigue, and injury. The first four weeks of running training are often the time people stop because of pain and fatigue.
If you are a complete beginner runner, increase the intensity gradually and in small segments each week. You may find you may even need to walk/run in the beginning and that’s ok!
Keep your volume or duration to no more than 5-10% increment each week, and you will find you will manage to hold proper consistently up until your event.
Improve your half marathon speed
If you are already into your half marathon training and see a plateau in your training, speed work will help you drop your times rapidly. If you are a complete beginner, stay away from speed work until you have reached 12-16 weeks of easy running.
Start with easier bursts of speed. Efforts such as 60secs efforts at your goal 10km race pace will help the body adapt to the rigors of speed work. As you get more comfortable, you can start implementing 1km repeats, tempo runs, and 200/400 intervals.
You can read here about some of the most common running workouts. Just remember to implement these workouts into the right periods of your training scheme.
The road to the half marathon
While completing a half marathon is not as hard as one thinks, consistency is the key to getting you to the start line in top shape. Remember not to overdo the training early on and make a steady progression during the build-up. This will help you start injury free and allow the body to adapt to the rigors of running along the way.
Wether you are aiming for a 5km, 10km or half marathon, SportCoaching can help improve your times, prevent injuries and structure your training. With over 20 years of experience in coaching athletes to multiple events, we can help you reach your goals.
Sportcoaching provides unlimited contact time and daily analysis of your training, this makes sure we are constantly improving and progressing towards your goal event.