Spring is a great time to start training for your first, fifth or tenth half-marathon. No matter how many races you have participated in, you can always use helpful tips to make the most of your run come race day.
Depending on your skill level, three to four months is a good amount of time to train for a half marathon. It gives you enough time to get in shape, get stronger, and feel comfortable running long distances. To help you start your training on the right track, here are seven tips that will help you be successful through your training journey:
The first tip is to get yourself to a reputable running store to get fitted for running sneakers that are as customized to your feet as possible. There are many types of sneakers to choose from, so seeking out the help of an expert will make the decision much easier. While you are at the store, don’t forget to throw in a good pair of running socks to avoid those unwanted blisters!
Gear for training is very important. In addition to sneakers, a good shirt and shorts/pants made of sweat wicking material is helpful. These will help cut down on the chafing. If you do happen to still chafe as you increase your mileage, consider trying an anti-chafing product that can be purchased from your local drugstore. It is also important to have a good water bottle or hydration belt so you can stay hydrated throughout your runs.
Having a training plan keeps you accountable and will help you achieve your goal. Make sure to choose a plan that fits your skill level, either beginner, intermediate or advanced. A good plan should include cross-training, a long run of at least ten miles, a rest day following the long run and a taper phase, which allows your body and mind to recover before race day.3 See below for an example of what a beginner’s training schedule could look like:
|1||Rest||2 miles||Cross Train||2.5 miles||Rest||Cross Train||3 miles|
|2||Rest||2 miles||Cross Train||3 miles||Rest||Cross Train||4 miles|
|3||Rest||2.5 miles||Cross Train||3 miles||Rest||Cross Train||5 miles|
|4||Rest||3 miles||Cross Train||4 miles||Rest||Cross Train||6 miles|
|5||Rest||3 miles||Cross Train||3 miles||Rest||Cross Train||7 miles|
|6||Rest||4 miles||Cross Train||4 miles||Rest||Cross Train||8 miles|
|7||Rest||4 miles||Cross Train||4 miles||Rest||Cross Train||9 miles|
|8||Rest||4 miles||Cross Train||3 miles||Rest||Cross Train||10 miles|
|9||Rest||5 miles||Cross Train||4 miles||Rest||Cross Train||11 miles|
|10||Rest||4 miles||Cross Train||3 miles||Rest||Cross Train||12 miles|
|11||Rest||Cross Train||Rest||Cross Train||3 miles||Cross Train||5 miles|
|12||Rest||Cross Train||2 miles||Cross Train||Rest||20 minutes||Race Day|
Nutrition while you are training is key! Make sure to carbo load a few days leading up to your long runs.1 The morning of your long run, you want to eat carbs to help you get through the run. Carbs are the first thing you burn and are the main fuel while running long distances. A good meal could include oatmeal, banana with peanut butter or a whole wheat bagel with some peanut butter.
Hydration is also very important.2 Make sure to stay hydrated for a few days leading up to your long run training days, and especially the week before the big race. If you get cramps during your runs, it could be because you are not hydrating well enough. Water is most important in the days leading up to the race, but you can also try drinks with electrolytes, like Gatorade or Nuun. Most races have hydration stations every few miles, but if you want to make sure you stay hydrated and not have to worry about stopping for water, use that water bottle or hydration belt on race day.
If you start feeling unusual soreness or pain during your training, it is important to seek out treatment to minimize the risk of the injury becoming worse. One option is to schedule a free assessment with an Athletico movement expert. This allows you to get your condition checked out by a licensed professional without a financial commitment.* After the assessment, you will receive recommendations for treatment so that you can begin the healing process as quickly as possible.
Last tip is to remember to actually have fun on race day! Don’t let yourself get stressed out. Lay out all your gear and running clothes the night before the race so it is ready to go in the morning. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to eat breakfast, digest and get to the start line on time. If you are worried about timing, take a test drive to the start line a few days in advance and time how long it will take you to get there, park and walk to the start area. Good luck!
* Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of federally funded plans are not eligible for a free assessment.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Bede, Pamela Nisevich. “3 Expert Tips for Fueling Your Next Half Marathon.” Runner’s World, Runner’s World, 11 Mar. 2019, www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20843248/how-to-fuel-for-a-half-marathon/.
2. Maharam, Lewis. “Running Doc’s Complete Guide to Hydrating during Training and during Races .” Nydailynews.com, New York Daily News, 10 Jan. 2019, www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/running-doc-guide-hydration-article-1.1298939.
3. Carter, Kiera. “Thinking about 13.1? Here’s How to Train for a Half Marathon.” Runner’s World, Runner’s World, 9 Apr. 2019, www.runnersworld.com/training/a20843627/half-marathon-training-for-beginners/.