You’ve decided to run a half marathon – how should you start?
Are you joining us for the Windsor Half Marathon on September 29th? If it’s going to be your first half marathon, you’re probably wondering how to get started. There’s a lot to think about, so we’ve simplified the first steps. Here’s how to get started with your first half marathon.
9 Tips For Your First Half Marathon Training Plan
#1 Be Confident
The Windsor Half is really popular, and not just because of the amazing route and beautiful setting. It’s also perfectly doable – yes, even for beginners. Anyone can complete 13.1 miles with the right training. So have confidence, and start getting excited about the challenge you’ve set yourself. You will be able to do it, and it’s going to feel amazing. Start imagining crossing that finish line!
#2 The Right Mindset
First timer half marathon runners usually fall into two camps: too little, or too much. The trick lies in finding the sweet spot. Don’t over commit to a tough training regime without listening to your body, energy levels, hunger, and any aches or pains. It’ll put you at risk of over training or injury. But don’t try to wing it, either. Choose a beginners training plan that will get you round safely, so you can enjoy training and race day. You can always step up the training for your next half.
#3 Give Yourself Time
Very few people can rock up to a half marathon without dedicating a couple of months to training. And if this is your first half, you should give yourself plenty of time. Remember that a half marathon training plan should include a base training period, time to peak, and time to recover before the race. It’s also sensible to build in buffer weeks for illness, injury, or life getting in the way. Start training with your half marathon in mind 12-16 weeks before race day.
#4 Choose The Right Training Plan
A good beginners training plan should be 12-16 weeks long and start with 30 minute (or 5K) run distances. Expect to run 3-4 times per week. Look for a plan which includes rest days, cross training, a weekly long run, some speed work or pace work, and a taper before the race.
#5 Get Your Gear Right
Don’t make the newbie mistake of racing in brand-new kit. Test and trial your shoes, socks, sports bra, leggings/shorts and vest/top before race day. If they rub, chafe, or hurt then move onto the next candidate. This also goes for any sports nutrition you choose to use on the day. There’s nothing worse than running in new kit on race day and enduring blisters, chafing, or too-small shoes. Be prepared well in advance.
#6 Nourish Your Body
Running a half marathon can be a great way to lose a bit of weight or shape up. But don’t make that your main goal. If you restrict your calorie intake or cut carbs whilst training for your half marathon, you won’t give your body the nourishment it needs. It’s important to fuel your body with enough energy (calories), and a balanced intake of the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). Drink plenty of water. Get enough sleep (you’ll probably need more than usual!) If you want to lose a bit of weight, snip a very small amount of calories from your day – we’re talking 100-200 (this can be done by eating a couple of biscuits less per day, or keeping an eye on portion sizes). Don’t do anything drastic. Your body needs all your support during half marathon training.
#7 Have Plenty Of Support
Training for your first half marathon is exciting, but you will have ups and downs during training. It won’t always be easy, fun, or pleasant. Who will support you on the days when you feel tired, or when you wish you’d never started? Make sure you have an inner circle of friends and family who support you, understand you, and are excited for you. Get rid of any negative people (or ignore them). You need positivity in your life right now.
#8 Get Used To Long Runs
The main difference between half marathon training and any other type of running training is distance. You’re body and mind will need to get used to total weekly running volume – and of course that weekly long run. It’s the most significant part of any long distance running programme. Don’t dread it – you’ll probably enjoy it (especially if you build up to it properly!) A long run can be a beautiful thing. Plenty of time to think, empty your mind, and enjoy your surroundings. Plus it’s a major achievement, and one you’ll get to tick off every single week! Use your long runs to get used to time on your feet and practice your half marathon pace.
#9 Look After Your Body
A serious running goal means serious recovery strategies. Incorporate regular stretching and foam rolling at home, or go to a yoga class every week. Get sports massages if you can. And don’t bury your head in the sand about any minor injuries. Seek out a reputable sports physio (preferably one who knows about running) and nip things in the bud. Sleep as much as you can, take naps if possible, and look after your body. It’s doing a great job for you!
Windsor Half Marathon Sunday 29th September entries open now enter here