There’s nothing quite like the sensation of soaring through the air, feet pounding against the hard-packed dirt, sweat dripping down your face and your heart pounding in excitement as you cross that finish line for the first time. The half-marathon is nearly the perfect race—believe it or not, it is within the realm of possibility for just about anyone. The 13.1-mile race, like Utah’s Canyonlands Half Marathon, takes commitment and training. The right plan can take you nearly six months to reach your goal! You could be running 13.1 miles by the end of the year. Imagine that?
Are you wondering where to begin training for a half marathon? You have come to the right place! It is not going to be easy—you will need to increase your endurance, strength, and speed—and this varies from person to person. However, you will thank yourself by the end. Here are five ways to begin training for a half-marathon today!
Buy a Pair of Sensible Shoes
First things first—you want to take a trip to your local Nike store or any speciality sport’s store. You are going to need a solid pair of running shoes before you do anything.
Any specialist will be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t—you want to avoid chafing, pinching, and moisture retention. Moisture-wicking socks can help with moisture build-up, which can lead to some nasty blisters. You want your running shoes to be supportive, sturdy but flexible to your movements. A good pair of adequately tied running shoes can make the experience much easier, and they can help you avoid accidents like falls or twist your ankle.
Set a Realistic Pace
If you are moving from the couch to the street—you want to be realistic with yourself. You will probably be out of breath within a couple of minutes. Depending on your athleticism, this beginning pace will vary exponentially.
Your pace should depend on one thing: can you hold a conversation while maintaining your speed and effort? If you can jog at a leisurely pace while having an entire conversation, this is about a level three effort. You will want to work your way up to at least a seven or eight effort—maybe you can blurt out a sentence or two, but you will need to preserve your breath.
This scale should give you an idea of what pace you should begin with—alternating with different speeds, inclines, and effort—week by week.
Go on Easy Jogs & Runs
It might feel like you need to start sprinting straight out of the corral like a racehorse, but this could lead to a severe injury. You need to pace yourself—start with an easy jog or run a few times a week, alternating with a ten-to-thirty-second sprint in between. Try to maintain an easy jog for your entire twenty-minute lap—this might take a while. However, going on easy jogs and runs will begin to raise your endurance at a steady pace.
Prioritize Strength Training
If you want to be in good shape for a half-marathon—this requires more than just running! What do you know about strength training? Strength-training is an all-inclusive word for building strength in all areas of your body—your core, your legs, your arms, and especially the muscles in your back. You can engage these muscles through targeted exercises like the single-leg deadlift, planks, burpees and the glute bridge (excellent for opening your pelvis).
You can strength train through aerobic exercises like swimming, cycling, and Pilates—lower impact exercises but perfect for interspersing with high-intensity running.
Rest & Recovery
It sounds counterproductive, right?
Whether you want it or not—your body needs a break in between this intense schedule. If you’re going to be ready to run a half-marathon, your muscles need to repair themselves to become stronger. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean not doing anything for an entire day– you want to stay on top of your schedule– but it means to take it easy.
If you went on a two-hour run the day before, take today to go for a gentle swim in the morning, or maybe treat yourself to a calming yoga session after work. Your body is your machine, after all, and you need to treat it with kindness.