Training Tips for Your First Half Marathon

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So, you’ve run a 5K—maybe even a 10K—and now you’re ready for something more challenging like a half marathon. Good for you! The half marathon is a great distance. It’s long enough to feel challenged, but not so long that training for it completely consumes your life. Below are a few good training tips for your first half marathon

1. Build a base

One mistake new runners often make when paring for a half marathon is thinking that the 12- or 14-week plan takes you from the couch to the finish line. All half marathon training plans that range in length from 10, 14 or 16 weeks assume that you’ve already built a weekly mileage base of at least 15 to 20 miles. Your longest run should also be at least 5 miles.

2. Pick a plan

Twelve weeks is a common length of many half marathon training plans, but a quick Google search will bring up plans that range from 10 to 16 weeks. If this is your first half marathon, it’s strongly recommend a plan longer than 10 weeks. This will give you more time to acclimate to the training demands.

3. Think quality over quantity

Running lots of miles each week is one way to prepare for a half marathon, but lots of miles can increase our chance of injury. New half-marathon runners can run four times a week. Two quality runs and two maintenance runs. The quality runs consist of a mid-week tempo run and a weekend long run.

4. Cross-train

Doing non-running but aerobic cross-training as well as light resistance training on your off running days is a great way to optimize your running fitness. Cycling, swimming, using the elliptical machine or row machine are all great forms of cross-training. Light resistance training particularly targeting the core and upper body will greatly help you fight off fatigue.

5. Find a training group

Whether you’re paying for a coach who is leading a group training program or you just round up your running buddies, training in a group can make all the difference in the world in how successful you are with your training. When you know you’ll be missed, you tend to be more accountable for your workouts.

6. Research the race

Find out what sports drink will be provided at the race. If possible, train using the same sports drink, or plan ahead how you’ll use your own. Never use a sports drink or gel during a race, that you’ve never tried/tested during training.

7. Rest

Rest is just as important as a run workout. Your body needs time to rebuild and repair. Skipping rest days will tax your body’s ability to recover and make you more prone to injury. Be sure to take your scheduled rest days, but also listen to your body.

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