Now that you’ve decided on the half marathon, how do you train for it? There are lots of programs available online for half marathon training. Here are a few considerations for choosing a plan and training for the half marathon:
Starting point: Make sure the first week of the training plan is consistent with your current mileage base. Most programs assume a “beginner” runs 8-10 miles per week. Don’t choose an intermediate program if you are really a beginner. On the other hand, if you have raced the half marathon before, choose a more advanced program that will give you the challenge of speed work and hill training so you can race more aggressively and better your previous time.
Calendar time: Look at your calendar and make sure you have enough time to complete the training before your goal race. You definitely don’t want to try to shorten the program to fit it in with the date of your race. If you don’t have enough time, choose a different goal race.
Weekly running program: Choose a program that includes one longer run per week and at least two shorter runs per week. The long run should ramp up to a maximum of around 12 miles or two hours of running. Your last long run should be approximately two weeks before your race. After you complete that last long run, your program should include a taper, a reduction in weekly mileage while maintaining the speed/intensity of the runs.
Race conditions: Train on surfaces and terrain that are similar to your goal race terrain. Find out if your race is hilly or flat, asphalt or crushed gravel, hot or cold temperatures, morning or evening, and train under conditions as similar as possible to your goal race. If you can’t do all of your training under race conditions, at least do your long runs that way.
Fueling and hydration: For the half marathon, you will definitely need to come up with a hydration strategy that works for you. Determine how frequently you will consume fluids and how much fluid you will consume. It is usually best to drink at the frequency at which water stops will be available on your goal race course. This information should be available on the race website. You may also find you perform better by ingesting some carbohydrates during your long runs – experiment with sports drinks, gels, blocks, etc. to see what works for you. Practice and refine your hydration and fueling strategies during your long runs.
Whether your end goal is to complete a half marathon or to use it as a stepping stone to the marathon, enjoy the race and be proud of the great accomplishment of completing a half marathon!
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