These Expert Tips Will Answer All Your Questions About Half Marathon Training

31 Jan, 2022 01:24 By:

Running a half marathon is a fantastic achievement and is a distance that is achievable for most people with the right training. It's a long enough distance that you don't feel like you're sprinting the whole way (unless you're going for an elite time!) but it's short enough that you don't have to commit like you do with a full marathon. Here are 5 of the most common questions and queries around half marathon training with expert advice to get you to the finish line feeling like you're on top of the world. 

How long should you train for a half marathon?

This question really is like asking, "how long is a piece of string?". The good news is that you can customise the length of your training plan to suit your availability for commitment and your lifestyle. If you're training for your first half marathon, we definitely recommend a longer training plan - at least 16 weeks. If you have been running regularly for years and your body is already well conditioned, you could easily get away with something as short as 8 weeks of training. 

The most important thing with training for a half marathon is: consistency. Whatever length of training plan you follow, you should endeavour not to skip any sessions and to train regularly and with consistency. Of course, life gets in the way sometimes, so don't be hard on yourself if you do miss the odd session. But if you find yourself often missing training runs, you should ask yourself if this is the right time to be training for something like a half marathon.

How can I improve my half marathon performance?

There are 4 key factors when it comes to running performance and each is as important as the last. The training itself, sleep, nutrition, and hydration. Make sure you are getting quality sleep every night of at least 7 hours so that your body can rest and recover for the next training session. Eat well to fuel your body and make sure you are eating enough to fuel your training. Hydrate properly with water and also figure out what you need during longer training runs - you'll need electrolytes to keep your blood sodium level healthy and prevent illness or injury. 

What to eat before a half marathon

Although food is highly subjective, there are a few favourites that most runners agree on. One of the most popular foods for runners is porridge. And for good reason. Oats are a food powerhouse and are packed with nutrients. They are a great source of complex carbs for slow release energy to keep you feeling strong throughout the race. 

One of the most important pieces of advice when thinking of what to eat before a half marathon, is to never try anything new on race day. If you've never tried a particular sports drink before or never eaten a particular food, make sure to avoid it on race day because you never know how it might affect your body and you could end up with a dreaded DNF or Paula Radcliffe moment. 

Half marathon training tips for beginners

A great expert tip for beginners is to prioritise 'easy' runs. Many beginners to running think that you have to kill yourself in every training session and that unless you're sweating and throwing up at the end, you've not done it right. Thankfully, this is a complete myth. Easy training runs are your bread and butter and should make up 80% of your training, with the other 20% reserved for those harder tempo runs. 

An easy run is exactly what it says on the tin: easy. Make sure your heart rate stays below 60% of your max and that you feel you could easily hold a conversation throughout. For complete beginners, this will definitely mean walking for some of the training sessions. Walking is not cheating! Doing a run-walk-run training session is an excellent strategy and will be important for keeping your heart rate low and facilitating optimum recovery.  

Running a half marathon without training

Running a half marathon without training is possible, but should only be done if absolutely necessary. For beginners, certainly, it should not be attempted and you could make yourself seriously ill if you do. However, for runners who have been consistently training for years and know their bodies well, it is something you could do.