Whether you’ve just entered the second part of your 20s and suddenly all of your friends are running or you’ve been a runner for years, half marathon training is an awesome way to commit to yourself. The half marathon is the perfect distance—21.1 km. You’ll feel accomplished and productive, but training doesn’t have to consume your life (and schedule!).
At Brainsport, running is a way of life. We love it, and we love helping others love it and turn it into a habit. We think the best half marathon training is a combination of commitment and fun, community and dedication. Running with other runners is powerful, and if you are best motivated that way, try our half marathon clinics. Our coaches are renowned athletes and teachers, and there’s no one better to learn from.
We, aim to teach a solid, positive, lifelong approach to running. Our hope is that you will love running and experience its benefits immediately in your half marathon training. Here are some tips and essentials to inform your half marathon training.
Half Marathon Training Tips
Start with the shoe
First, make sure you have the right shoes for the job. Get a pair of shoes that fits you, so you can run like the wind. If you’re in Saskatoon, drop by our store to get fit by our shoe experts. Throughout your half marathon training, pay attention to how your body feels in your shoes and the rest of the gear. Adjust as early as possible in your program so you can become accustomed to the gear you’re going to wear on race day.
Set a goal
Whether you’re doing the half marathon training to see if you can keep up a running routine, to prepare for a race or to try to get a PB, it’s a good idea to set a goal. This gives you something to work towards, a way you can congratulate yourself at the end of the training. Don’t make picking your goal time an arbitrary process—choose a time with meaning and intent. You might change it throughout your half marathon training, and don’t be afraid to give your goal an update!
How much time ahead should you set aside for your half marathon training? That really depends on what level of runner you are right now. If you can comfortably complete 5km, you can go to the shorter end of the spectrum, whereas if you aren’t there yet, you’ll want to estimate on the longer side. Start planning for your run at least two months out, ideally 10-14 weeks ahead.
Fuel your body
You know not to test brand new shoes the day of your run, and same goes for food. Incorporate into your half marathon training program the kind of fuel your body will need day of the race. Test out the gels, butters, bars or anything else you want to use well ahead of time. Otherwise come race day, you could find yourself spending precious time in a porta potty…
Listen to your body
Push yourself and stick to your training plan, with one exception: an injury. If you hurt yourself, rest immediately, and see a doctor or physiotherapist if appropriate. Most running injuries are minor and can heal from a few days of rest, but pushing yourself through those minor injuries can lead to a month or more on the sidelines. Listen to your body and avoid recurring injuries by pushing too hard.
Mix up your workouts
While you can likely guess that your half marathon training will contain a lot of running, it is good to add some variation. A solid half-marathon training plan should have cross-training days, a long run, hills and/or intervals and a rest day.
The idea with your cross training days is that you will work other muscle groups, giving your running body a little rest without taking the day completely off. Any aerobic cross-training will help you become a better endurance athlete, but to get the most from your routine, you should choose a cross-training mode that doesn’t simply mimic the running movement. This part of your half marathon training will help you become a more balanced, injury-resistant athlete. Some options for this are cycling, swimming, elliptical machine, yoga, barre and dance.
Be dedicated, but not a robot
You should join or choose a half marathon training program carefully, and then stick to it as best you can. We’re not recommending skipping runs, but hey, life comes up! If you have to reschedule or adjust a few workouts over the course of your training, don’t feel guilty about it. Running is fun, and makes you feel amazing. You don’t want to start looking at it as a chore that interrupts your “real life.” Running is real life, and it needs to fit into your life. That being said, make it fit whenever you can!
How long should be your longest long run?
We recommend one long run per week, usually on Saturday or Sunday so it’s easier to fit into your schedule. The distance of this will fluctuate throughout your training, and at your absolute furthest in your half marathon training, you can expect to go around 16 km. New runners are usually shocked to hear that you never run the full distance before the big day, but trust us—if you can do 16 km, you can do 21.1km.
Running with a community
One of the best things about running is that it is an activity you can do on your own or in a group. Our best advice is to find a community of runners, or a friend who helps keep you accountable. You can check out our run clinic to find your run tribe and do your half marathon training at the same time, or drop by our free weekly run club.