Some runners would describe a half marathon as: “not really easy, but not that hard.” While that vague descriptor isn’t much help when a beginner runner sets out to create a half marathon training plan, it does reveal that a half marathon is, in actuality, what you make of it. Is it a race? A fitness opportunity? A challenge to prove to others that you can do something big? Regardless of your particular motivation, the following five beginner half marathon training tips will help you adequately prepare and perform for your first time out there.
- Create a plan – Is this half marathon the next logical step after you’ve just completed a 5K or 10K? Or, are you fairly new to running, but really want to prove that you can survive 13.1 miles of physical exertion? Either way, set a plan, including your desired outcomes, and set that as your benchmark. You can design a pace plan, a total race time goal, and split times for various points throughout the race.
- Get geared up – While the days leading up to a half marathon are not the time to introduce new shoes, clothing, or accessories, you’ll want to ensure that you are actively running with appropriate gear that is in good condition. Replace worn shoes, socks, clothes, and accessories at least a month before race day to ensure you will have worked out any of the kinks long before approaching the starting line.
- Run with a group – One of the best pieces of advice when considering beginner half marathon training is to run with a group of like-minded individuals who operate within a reasonable performance window of one another. Besides the obvious social benefits, running with a group tends to keep the motivation factor high and can help waffling runners keep focused on the end goal.
- Mentally prepare – While there is no doubt that a half marathon is a grueling event, a fair share of the challenge comes from that space behind the eyes – rather than sore feet and exhausted lungs. You’ll want to practice positive thinking, reduce the ability for negative thoughts to enter your mind during a run, and celebrate small accomplishments throughout your training runs.
- Rest appropriately – While many runners feel that rest is a necessary annoyance, take advantage of the benefits, both physical and mental, of hanging up the running shoes for a day or two. All reputable beginner half marathon training plans include intentional periods of rest, designed to allow the body to heal and the mind to focus. The weeks leading up to a half-marathon are the most important, so ensure that you precisely follow your chosen training plan.
Running a half marathon is quite the challenge – even for seasoned runners. Those who consider themselves experienced runners can find that a half-marathon provides the opportunity to incrementally improve as they prepare for full marathons, while beginner runners can use a half-marathon as a major milestone in their running “career.” The five beginner half marathon tips above will help you safely and comfortably train for and compete in your first half marathon event.