Are you interested in running a half marathon, but don’t have any idea where to start? Well, you’re in the right place. I’ve helped plenty of people successfully train for half marathons over the years, and I’d like to show you how as well!
Half Marathon? You Can Do It
I bet you never thought running a marathon would be practical. But here you are thinking about training for a 13.1-mile race. You’re probably thinking, Am I crazy? Have I lost my mind? And I’m here to tell you that you’re not.
Almost anyone who is in decent physical condition and doesn’t have any serious underlying conditions that prevent them from participating in prolonged physical activity should be able to run a half marathon. This doesn’t mean it’s easy – just that it’s possible. The key is to prepare your body ahead of time so that you can properly pace yourself and avoid injury.
Your success running a half marathon is all about the preparation. (The actual race day is simply checking off the box. 99 percent of the work happens in the weeks leading up to the race.) With this in mind, there are two big mistakes beginners make when training for a half marathon:
- Too much training. You can’t push your body to the maximum every single training session. If you ignore your body, you escalate the risk of injury and prevent your muscles from recovering properly between workouts.
- Too little training. Other people don’t commit enough to the training process. They figure that they can run a few miles here and there and tough it out on race day. However, there’s a big difference between being able to run 7-10 miles and being able to run 13.1 miles. You have to train all the way up until the race.
Successfully training for a half marathon requires you to avoid landing on either of these extremes. If training is a spectrum, you want to land somewhere in the middle. This article will equip you with some tips for doing just that.
5 Half Marathon Training Tips
You don’t run a half marathon on a whim. You have to be prepared, engaged, and committed. Here are several suggestions to get you pointed in the right direction.
1. Get in Good General Shape
The number one prerequisite for running a half marathon is to have a basic fitness level. This means you have no major health problems that could prevent you from safely completing a race. It also means you have some existing stamina and running experience.
While you can definitely train for a half marathon from scratch (meaning going from never running to running a 13.1-mile race), it takes a lot longer than if you have some experience running a few miles per week.
If you think you might be running a marathon at some point this year, it’s a good idea to stay active and fit.
2. Give Yourself Time
While it all depends on your basic fitness level, you can generally expect to spend somewhere between 12 to 14 weeks training for a half marathon (if you’ve never run one before). In other words, it’s going to take three to four months.
One of the keys to half marathon training is to build up endurance and strength. At first, you’ll only want to run maybe three times per week, allowing for plenty of rest. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to four to five times per week as the race nears.
3. Create a Plan
You can’t wing your preparation for a half marathon. As mentioned, it’s going to take 12 to 14 weeks of training. Each of these weeks needs to be carefully planned. This includes every training session, run, distance, pace, rest day, etc.
Creating a plan is easy. (Your run coach can help you do this.) It’s sticking to the plan that’s challenging. There will be days when you don’t want to do it. You’ll have a bad day at work, or your head will hurt, and you’ll want to watch Netflix instead. However, consistency and discipline are must-haves.
4. Partner With Someone
Don’t underestimate the challenge of sticking with a goal for 12 to 14 weeks at a time – especially when it’s physically demanding and mentally taxing. Staying accountable is much easier when you have someone else tracking with you.
Having a training partner is a huge help. Your partner can challenge you, call you out, and provide encouragement. And if you run together, it gives you someone to talk to (which makes the time pass faster).
Another option is to hire a run coach. While this person won’t physically run or train with you, they will plan out your training sessions, track your results, and regularly check in to make sure you’re on track.
5. Take Care of Your Body
Running and building up stamina is only half of the formula for success. You also need to take care of your body in other ways. This includes:
- Eat well. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet of fresh food. Load up on lots of lean protein, fruits, and veggies. Avoid as much processed food as you can.
- Stay hydrated. You should always have a water bottle in hand. You’ll be sweating a lot and burning plenty of calories. A minimum of 128 ounces of water per day is recommended during training.
- Cross-train. It’s a good idea to incorporate at least two days of cross-training into your weekly routine (swimming, pilates, cycling, etc.). This enhances your injury resistance and balances out your training.
- Get sleep. You need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. On long training days, nine hours would be great.
If you prioritize these four things (in addition to running), you’ll give your body everything it needs to succeed.
DeMetz Run Coaching
If you’ve never run a half marathon before, you’ll benefit from partnering with a run coach who understands the intricacies of both training and race day execution.
As a certified run coach and online fitness coach, personal trainer Nathan DeMetz can help you create a plan, strategically optimize your cardio workouts, and track your results in a personalized dashboard. He can even coach you on how to make adjustments, alter pace, warm-up, and rest. Additionally, you’ll get nutritional guidance and tracking, body stat tracking, and access to a video library of hundreds of videos on exercise and running form.
Want to learn more? Let’s chat!
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!