1. Train for at least 13 weeks
While it may seem a bit novel to allow yourself one week of training for every mile of the race, 13 weeks is long enough period of time to safely build up your long run, weekly mileage and key workouts, but not so long that you lose motivation and get stale with your training. For beginners whose longest run might only be 4 or 5 miles at the start, adding as little as a mile to your weekly long run will put you in a position to confidently cover the distance on race day. If you’re an experienced runner and covering the distance isn’t of concern, a 13-week training block chock full of gradually increasing mileage and challenging race-specific workouts can put you in a good position to go after a new personal best. Once you’re in shape to run a half, you can shorten your training program to about 10 weeks for your next one.
2. Get fast first
If you’re an experienced half marathoner targeting a PR this year, work on improving your speed at shorter distances by training like a 5K/10K runner in the first four to six weeks of your half-marathon training cycle. By emphasizing shorter interval workouts and quicker tempo runs before you start lengthening your long run and piling on more weekly mileage, you will greatly improve your speed and efficiency, which will make the five to six weeks of half-marathon-specific training far more effective. The faster you are over 5K and 10K, the better you’ll be able to handle your goal half-marathon race pace.
3. Run different surfaces
Don’t get caught in a running rut. It can be easy to head out the door and run the same route from your house every day or cave to the convenience of the treadmill at the gym—yet again. As much as possible, try to switch up the surfaces you run on. Softer surfaces, such as grass or trails, can be great for recovery runs since the impact is less on your body, and the uneven nature of the surface can help strengthen your feet or lower legs. Running on roads can help harden your legs and work on your race rhythm, while the treadmill can help you dial in pace with laser-like precision. Much like switching up your running shoes, varying where you run can decrease running-related overuse injuries.
4. Experiment with fuel
Nutrition is far from an exact science and it’s important to experiment with fueling and hydration strategies prior to race day. The last thing you want is to have an upset stomach after you take off from the starting line. Do your research and plan ahead — know which sports drink and gels will be on the race course and practice using those products if you don’t plan on carrying supplies with you. Over the course of 13.1 miles, your tank will run low and it’s important that you fill it well beforehand and know what (and how much) to take in to stay topped off during the race.
5. Study the course
A general wouldn’t go into battle blind and a runner shouldn’t go into a race without knowing the course he or she is about to take on for the first time. Learn as much as you can about your chosen race course in the weeks leading up to your goal event, and try to simulate those elements in some of your key workouts. Is the course hilly or flat? Are there lots of turns? Does it get narrow in spots? Will there be a strong wind? These are all important details worth knowing before race day. Prepare accordingly and don’t get caught by surprise after taking off from the start line!
For more details click here: 13.1 Tips for Running Your Best Half Marathon