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7 Half Marathon Training Tips for Beginners

Lifestyle & Wellness | School of Muscular Health

Training for a race is a great way to get in shape if you are just beginning an exercise routine. A half marathon, or 13.1 miles, may seem like a lofty goal if you are a novice runner, but with the right training schedule and a great pair of running shoes, you’ll be crossing the finish line in no time.

1. Assess your gear. 

The first and easiest thing to do to get started is to understand what types of shoes you're going to use.

I don't recommend you break in that new pair of shoes on race day. Make sure that you take your time to wear your new shoes. Get them prepared and understand how it makes your body feel after wearing them for the first time.

Make sure that they're not going to wear differently, and you're not going to get blisters.

The same goes for the clothes, especially during the beginning part of the year. The weather t can be difficult to prepare for. Make sure that you've got the right layers. You don't want to wear too much while you're out there, because once you start running, you're going to be getting warm, so really look at the inventory of what you have.

If you're going to be bringing any sort of snacks while you're running, make sure that you have something to put them in. So really start to assess your gear, start to make plans ahead of time to make sure that you have what you need.

2. Train one week per mile. 

As far as the amount of time that you should be preparing for your race, I typically recommend one week per mile.

If you're going to be running a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles, you want to give yourself about 13 weeks to prepare.

Make sure that you focus on progression through your training program, and you're giving yourself plenty of time to get ready for the race.

As far as the training goes during that initial training period, try to alternate your training styles. Don't always run at the same pace. Try shorter, faster runs. Try longer and even slower runs. 

Varying your body's ability can really help improve your chances of success on actual race day.

3. Think about nutrition.

And speaking of race day, what should you be eating?

There is a real opportunity for you to take advantage of nutrition as you prepare for the race. Ensure you start good nutrition habits at least a week ahead of time. Make sure that you're eating relatively low fiber options and relatively high carbohydrate fueling sources to make sure your body has glycogen stored, so you can put forth the effort while you're on the racecourse.

So things like pasta, your white bread, your simple carbs are really going to help give you the ability to put forth the effort while you're actually on your run.

As far as your race day and actually being onto the course, I typically recommend anywhere between 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour depending on your pace. So the more intense that you're running, the more carbohydrates your body is going to need in order to maintain that pace.

Those gummy bears, the jelly beans, the granola bars, all of those things are great options while you're on the course and you're making sure that you're fueling throughout that run.

4. Don't forget about cross-training. 

Cross-training — resistance training, yoga, cycling, all of those other components — is a great way to build up strength in other areas, to make sure your body is completely prepared to put forth the effort while you're on the course.

5. And always remember to recover. 

Recovery is especially important during training, especially after you're done with your longer runs. Make sure that you're putting back in those good carbs, your protein especially. We want to make sure we recover and we repair.

That's ultimately what maintaining that skeletal muscle mass is going to be. As your expending more calories on a regular basis, we want to make sure to replace those calories with positive things like good sources of protein and good unsaturated fats.

6. While racing, don't be afraid to walk. 

As far as while you're on the course, make sure that you aren't afraid of taking walks. Make sure that you're able to complete the race. If that means walking for another couple of minutes in between different mile markers, take that time to be able to recover.

Listen to your body and make sure you play it safe while you're out there.

7. Find your race pace and walk or run with others. 

Two more quick ones. Find your race pace.  Make sure you set yourself up for the best chance for success by not starting out too quickly. We want to stay within a reasonable pace. Make sure you continue to check how quickly you're running your miles to make sure you're not burning yourself out in the beginning and you can't complete it towards the end.

And then try to walk or run with others while you're on the course or even while you're training. It'll help push you. It'll help keep you accountable to make sure that you have the best race you can. Good luck, everyone.


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