Beginners guide to running a half marathon

The countdown is on to the Sheffield ½ marathon or the Yorkshire ½ marathon as it’s now known. Hopefully your training is well under way but just in case here are a few pointers to help you along the way.

If you’re a regular runner i.e running 5km 2-3 times a week then 3 months is a realistic time frame to safely increase your mileage to half marathon distance. If you’re a complete running novice, then it’s probably better to build up slowly for 3 – 6 months prior to embarking on a half marathon training programme.

 Charlie enjoying 1:45 1/2 marathon PB in Edinburgh

Charlie enjoying 1:45 1/2 marathon PB in Edinburgh

Pick the right training programme for you

There are a lot of training schedules out there and we mean A LOT! Which one you chose is entirely up to you but as a beginner pick one that is realistic. Ideally pick one which includes running no more than 3 times a week. Running any more frequently will increase recovery time and potentially increase your risk of injury.

Whilst at this stage you may think that a variety of different training doesn’t apply to you, try to include some speed/interval training as well as your long runs. A varied/purposeful  training schedule will help keep you motivated, increase your fitness and help to reduce overload on soft tissue.

Obey the 10% rule

Never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 % on the previous week. The majority of running injuries we see at Fit4-Physio are from training error and then mostly from those runners trying to increase their mileage too quickly or panicking if they’ve missed a run through other commitments, injury or illness. Stick to your training plan and don’t worry if you’ve missed a run, playing catch up will almost certainly end badly.

Listen to your body

It’s more than likely you are going to encounter a setback during half marathon training especially in the winter. This is inevitable and most training programmes are designed to accommodate this. If you’re feeling under the weather, then back off and get extra rest before easing back into the schedule gradually.

Avoid letting any little niggles or aches and pains get the better of you and turning into injuries. If the pain is persisting or worsening and not easing with conservative management then seek advice.  There’s no need to lose fitness when injured. If you need to take time out from running then replace it with other aerobic activity allowing you to hit the ground running when you’re fit again.

Recover well

Factors that will influence your recovery include stretching, hydration and sleep. Ideally stretch and use a foam roller after every run and on the days you don’t run set aside specific time for a longer stretch. Not only will it help you feel better but will hopefully avoid any tightness and injuries.

Sleep is an often overlooked element of recovery especially when you are trying to juggle work, family and life as well as training for a half marathon. Your body repairs itself when you are sleeping so make sure you get the sleep you need during your training and run up to your event.

For complete recovery, factor a sports massage into your training. Aim for every 4-6 weeks during your training and once after the big day. The benefits of a good sports massage could help injury at bay and allow you to train and recover better.

 Chocolate milk - the ultimate recovery!

Chocolate milk - the ultimate recovery!

Cross train

Runners often tend to be one trick ponies and shy away from any other form of exercise. However when training for a half marathon it’s never been more important to do some form of strength training to help your body cope with the demands of training, increase speed (yes really!) and reduce risk of injury. Aim for functional exercises such as walking lunges, squats and wood chops.

Be flexible with your training

Build exercise into your daily routine to save time. Break sessions into two shorter runs if you don’t have time for one long session. Alternatively think about running to or from work to build your training into your day.

Find a friend

Encourage friends to run with you. Even if they aren’t training for the half marathon, a little company goes a long way when you start building those long training runs up.

Not entered yet? Registration is still open for Yorkshire Half Marathon

If you need any more help and advice on getting to the start line on April 16th then get in touch at info@fit4-physio.co.uk or call us on 07938 680320

 Faithful running partner (and BIL) Coops!

Faithful running partner (and BIL) Coops!