5 tips for successful half marathon training

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The half marathon just might be the best distance race there is. It’s long but still accessible and short enough that you can still attack it with some speed. It doesn’t require as much training time as the marathon, but is still a formidable challenge that will leave you with a deep sense of accomplishment at the end. Whether you’re training for your first half marathon this spring or you’re a distance veteran, keep these five training tips in mind to run your best half yet.

Whistler Half Marathon Photo: Christopher Thorn.

Do not rush

The half marathon may not require the same amount of training as a marathon, but you still need to be careful not to underestimate it and try to focus your training on just a few weeks. If this is your first time tackling the 21.1k distance, you should give yourself about 10 weeks to fully prepare, with five or six weeks of solid base training before that.

If you’re not new to half marathons and have been running regularly for several years, you may be able to shorten your training to eight weeks, but anything shorter than that and your performance could drop. Shortening your training block can also cause you to try to increase your mileage and intensity too quickly, which could hurt you before you even reach the starting line.

Focus on the long term

The long run is the most important part of training for beginners since endurance is the main limiting factor for new runners. Even if you’re not a beginner, long runs are essential for building strength and endurance so you can perform longer, harder workouts and maintain faster paces for longer periods of time.

Your longest run should be at least 18 km to allow you to comfortably cover the full distance. Advanced runners will likely run more than the half marathon distance several times during their training, but that’s not necessary for a beginner.

Whether you’re a beginner or not, you shouldn’t jump right into your longest runs. Start by adding two miles to your long run distance each week, with a recovery week every four to six weeks, when you reduce the distance to give your body a break.

Tempo races are essential

When you start training for a half marathon, it’s time to swap some of the short interval sessions you used to do for your 5k and 10k training for long, steady-paced runs. These runs should be done at around your 10k pace (or a pace you can maintain for around an hour) to teach your body to efficiently remove lactate from your blood so you can run faster for longer periods of time. . Running at a steady pace throughout your half marathon training will ensure you run hard to the finish line on race day.

Add work to the pace of the race

As you get closer to race day, you need to practice running at your target race pace so you know how it feels. This will prevent you from going too fast at the start of the race and burning out in the middle, or going out too slow and not being able to make up for lost time in the second half.

In the last month of your training, run a few longer tempos at a half-marathon pace or, if you’re a more experienced runner, complete the last five to eight miles of your long run at your goal pace to practice running at that speed. on tired legs. This will ensure that on race day your goal pace is familiar and comfortable.

Nail your nutrition

Some might say you don’t need mid-run nutrition in a half-marathon, but research shows that if you’re running longer than 75 minutes, eating carbs mid-run will improve your performance. So if your goal time is over 75 minutes (which is probably the case for the majority of runners), you should practice consuming carbs during your long runs to avoid stomach upset on race day. . Most experts suggest consuming around 30g of carbs per hour for running times of up to two hours, and 60-75g. per hour for journeys lasting more than two hours.

If you’re new to half marathon training or looking to improve but still don’t know where to start, consider hiring a trainer who can guide you so far.

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