How to Train for a Half Marathon
How to Train for a Half Marathon
Marathons are the ultimate test of endurance, strength and perseverance. As such, marathons require a lot of dedication and conditioning. The ironic thing is, many people who take part in marathons are actually new to long distance running and are simply doing it for a cause or the experience. For others, running is a way of life and marathons represent the true test of their skill. Either way, marathons are no easy feat and should be approached with both a plan and a purpose.
Now, a marathon is a grand total of 26.2 miles, so a half marathon is 13.1 miles. If you are new to marathons, this distance no doubt sounds overwhelming and this is perfectly fine because it is quite a haul. Ideally, if you plan to run a marathon you should start training at least three months in advance, particularly for those of you without prior long-distance running experience.
For people who are not accustomed to running long distances or even worse, have not been very active in any way, you should aim to run about 3 miles every training day for three days each week (like Monday, Wednesday, Friday). To begin training for a half marathon or a marathon, you can easily start walking briskly for the first five minutes and then run for ten minutes straight. When running, you should keep a pace where you can comfortably carry on a conversation; if you are panting and heaving you are undoubtedly overworking yourself. Try alternate using this pattern for the entire distance.
Training for a long distance race should be done gradually, only increasing your mileage by a mile or two each time you run so that you are running approximately 13 miles or more a week. Every two weeks take one running day and try to run as long a distance as possible. Aim for five to begin with and increase your mileage every other week. Remember that while training for a half marathon rest is also very important. Take one or two days during the week to completely rest your muscles. Also, think about incorporating other aerobic exercises into your training program as well, like swimming or cycling. Heavy weight lifting is not the best idea when training for a marathon but a few light reps can be beneficial to working your muscles in a different way.
Regular runners should also follow the plan, but should obviously aim to cover longer distances of about 4 miles a day and work upward from there. More experienced runners should make an extra effort to take part in long-distance runs like 5Ks and 10Ks to get in the right frame of mind for a race such as a half marathon. Always remember to stretch your body thoroughly before and after runs and other workouts.
Of course the other vital part of a training program is sticking to a healthy diet. It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced eating regimen to provide your body with the right food to fuel long distance runs. Many people on diets tend to shy away from carbohydrates, but when it comes to long distance running, carbohydrates are essential for providing good, healthy energy. While I am in no way saying that you should lay aside your salad, you definitely need to increase your energy-providing foods (carbohydrates, protein and fats). Also, you are going to need much more than the recommended 8 glasses of water to prevent dehydration while running. Remember that there is no way you can achieve this goal of completing a half marathon unless you take care of your body.