If you have been running casually for a while and achieving distances of around 5 kilometres then you are ready and able to begin training for a half marathon. Even if this seems like a distant dream, if you give yourself enough time and plan your training you will achieve it. Many people want to train for a half marathon as it is such a great achievement and doesn’t require as much commitment as a full marathon.
It is easy to tell if you are ready to start the training process. If you are able to run for 30 minutes and do this 3 times per week or more then your body and fitness levels are ready to begin. Allow yourself roughly 15 weeks to train from this point. If you have longer than the guide of 15 weeks then you can give yourself a bit more freedom to reach your target. Don’t be afraid of having a shorter week where you cut back on the distance ran. It will give your body a rest.
You can begin to push yourself by increasing your runs each week by roughly 2.5 kilometres. At the start, you may be walking part of it but keep yourself moving and you will soon reach your goals.
To increase your fitness and endurance try to walk and run part of your workout then gradually build up the amount of time you are running for. You should aim to reach 20 kilometres roughly 2 weeks before your marathon date. If you struggle to know how far you have run then try wearing a GPS watch it will keep track of your route and tell you distances covered.
If you aren’t quite at the full half marathon distance then do not panic, if you can run 10 miles the adrenaline will carry you the rest of the way on the day of the race.
One of the key things to learn is pace, if you are used to running shorter races you need to remember to slow down for the longer distances. A good way of doing this is to make sure you are able to breath and have a conversation comfortably. This will ensure you do not burn yourself out too early in the race. If you struggle to know whether you are running at a comfortable pace then try wearing a heart rate monitor, you should aim to be running at around 70% of your maximum pulse rate.
If you have never competed in a race it is a good idea to compete in a 5km or 10km race during your training. It will give you experience of how it feels to run under pressure and as part of a large group of people.
It is important to rest yourself so do not run every day and mix in at least one shorter run each week of around 5 kilometres. By rest, it doesn’t mean take a complete break from fitness, just change it up a little. On the days between your runs engage in other activity such as swimming, cycling or even strength training.
If you find yourself struggling don’t be downhearted running a half marathon is far from easy, it is a challenge which you will have to work for. Keep going, if you have a tough week take a few days break and then get back to it.
Once you have completed your half marathon you may find yourself tempted to train for a full marathon. You will know how your body handled long distance running and you are already halfway there!
About the Author – Luke Hughes
Luke is the founder of fitness education company Origym. Originally from Birmingham, but moved to Liverpool to start his own fitness enterprise. He loves all things health and fitness but with a particular passion for running and cycling and can often be found riding the hills of the Lake District in his spare time.