This blog on how to train for a charity half-marathon was brought to you by our amazing fundraiser and hobby runner Anna. Find her on Instagram and say hello under @Anna_Ecorunner
Training for a Half Marathon
You’ve signed up for a half marathon! Perhaps in awe of family and friends - or indeed yourself - but you still have. Hopefully this blog post will give you a bit of help in the time before the race. As a long time runner, I’ve gathered advice from fellow distance runners as well as the odd lesson learnt along the way. Enjoy and happy running!
Stretching is so key for running and even more so for training long distances. It will make a difference to your body in the short term (the next morning) and the long term.
If you know you’ve got a weak this or a dodgy that, then by all means go for a few gentle stretches to loosen it out. I normally do some ankle rolls just to loosen up that area. Try slow jogging the first 100m of the run. However, post run stretches should be the main focus. Legs are an obvious target but I’d advise including a few back stretches into your routine. The NHS has a very straightforward and concise page on stretching post run. Make sure to hold every stretch for at least 30 seconds and breathe normally while you do.
It’s good to keep an eye on nutrition when you’re training for a half marathon but I wouldn’t stress too much about it…a post work drink is not the end of the world!
Pre run: Bodies vary but I’d recommend having your meal at least 2 hours before a run, just so you have time to begin the digestion process and it doesn’t cause discomfort during a run. If you’re running first thing in the morning, you might not feel like eating and that’s normal, just make sure to get a good breakfast in after.
During: Energy gels are great running fuel and there are so many brands and flavours out there. Make sure you trial whichever gel you plan to use before the race to make sure you like it and it sits well with you. Equally remember to have some water with it as these gels are very concentrated and water will help speed up their absorption.
Post run: Focus on getting some carbohydrates and protein in this meal. Some examples: baked potato + cottage cheese, bagel with eggs, pasta + meatballs. Also remember not to forget hydration and drink plenty of water post run.
There are a tons of training guides on the internet that’ll tailor a plan for you depending on your experience and how long you have to train. Naturally, what your goal time is will also alter your training plan. But as a basis, I would advise 3 runs a week:
1 short run that you push yourself to go at a fast pace, focusing on your speed.
1 long run to get used to being on your feet for a good chunk of time. (eg. 1hr 10 – 1hr30)
1 distance climbing run. This is the run that you gradually build your distance.
It’s also worth looking up the route for your race and seeing what kind of terrain, hills or track you’ll be dealing with and try to base your training runs on similar routes.
Tips and Tools!
Garmins/Trackers: Useful during training for getting a feel of distances and pacing. Ask around if anyone you know has a Garmin to lend, if not there’s a ton of apps. I use the NIKE running app which works pretty well.
Injuries/aches/pains: Don’t hang up your running shoes at the first twinge. Have a look at your stretches and see if more focused but gentle stretches will alleviate any pain. Also take a look at your shoes and see if you could use some extra support.
Blisters: They happen and they’re a nuisance. Try the little roll-on wax from Compeed - rub it on the area you tend to blister and it creates a protective barrier between you and your shoes.
Cramps/Stitches: If you’re often cramping when you run try to relax your shoulders and arms, this’ll make your breathing easier. Keep your arms at your sides and avoid letting them cross over your body as you run and don’t clench your fists.
Don’t forget to enjoy the run, ultimately you are doing something amazing for a charity.
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