Congratulations on deciding to take on a half marathon!
While it is no easy feat, it’s certainly achievable and is a great challenge to throw yourself into head first.
Running season is arguably the most popular ‘health related’ season in Australia so it’s a good one to get involved in. For starters there are so many events and amazing tracks Australia wide, but it is also something that is catered for internationally, providing you with a good excuse to travel.
Here are my top tips for preparing for a half marathon.
Preparation Needs To Be Tailored To The Individual
One size does not necessarily fit all when it comes to preparing for an event like this, however there are a few things that should be suitable for most people.
For starters, when preparing for your first half, don’t go too hard too soon. You want to give yourself a minimum 3-month lead-time so that you can gradually build up your kilometres gradually and focus on run specific strength training in the gym to make you stronger.
Also don’t think that you should be running 21 kms in your training sessions. Start small and gradually build up those kms, making sure that you also incorporate fartlek training days, hill sprints and training on different terrains as you want to be prepared for anything that course may throw at you.
A good place to start with an early training program would be.
Monday: 30-minute run to get as far as you can and 45 minutes run specific strength training
Tuesday: 5 x 1 minute hill sprints
Wednesday: 35-40 minutes of Fartlek training (speed play)
Thursday: Strength Training in the gym
Friday: 35-40 minutes of Fartlek training (speed play
Saturday: Active recovery, yoga/ swimming
Sunday: Long run day (start with 5 km and try to go up 500m – 1 km each week)
Build on this program each week with the help of a coach. This is what week 1 would look like.
Make Friends with The Weights Room
You will notice that strength training played a starring role in the program above and there is a reason for that.
I truly believe that spending time in the weights room is very important for runners, particularly for building their lower body and core strength as well as balance/mobility.
For the lower body, some exercises that you should consider include front & back squats, normal/one legged dead lifts, kettle bell swings, lunges, step ups and box jumps.
If you are going to go to the effort to strength train for your running event, note that you should also be training your legs in a unilateral fashion, meaning one leg at a time as that’s exactly how running works. It will allow you to make those muscles stronger as well as picking up on any muscle imbalances and weaknesses.
You also want to ensure that you are strong through your torso and back as you don’t want to start hunching over mid run when you start to fatigue. Poor posture can lead to shorter strides, shallow breathing, lower back pain and tight hamstrings.
I also make sure that I fit in 1-2 yoga sessions per week when I am training for a running event as it really helps with recovery, mobility and flexibility.
It’s important to ensure that your body becomes accustom to its training, but the recovery process is just as imperative.
If you’re picking up you’re training or trying things for the first time, you MUST ensure that you’re giving BACK to your body. Whatever you TAKE from it must be reciprocated with recovery of one form or another.
Have a day off, incorporate yoga, swims or even gentle walks.
I cannot stress how important recovery is, because pushing yourself on a depleted balance can decrease your performance, potentially lead to injury or even worse, adrenal issues.
Some of my recovery techniques include:
* Spending time using a foam roller, trigger balls, micro bands and stretching bands to help roll out any tightness, build strength in smaller stability muscles and stretch it all out.
* If I have a big event coming up and I am running a lot of kms per week, I also see a sports physio. As well as helping you loosen tight spots, they can also identify where your weak points are.
* I also train in my SKINS compression tights to promote blood flow, support my muscles and boost the recovery process from the get go. I also sleep in them some nights if I am very sore. I rub the Bio Ceuticals magnesium cream rubbed on my legs first which adds to the effect even more
* I try to do 2 yoga sessions per week, because for everything you take from your body, you need to give back to your body.
* As well as making sure my nutrition is squared away, the reality is that for the amount of exercise that I do there is no way that I could refuel on wholefoods alone. Everyone is different, but for me I add Bio Ceuticals Ultra Muscleze and IsoWhey Sports BCAA’s into all of my smoothies and I also use several protein supplements.
No one likes a nasty surprise come race day, so it helps to do as much research as possibly in advance.
Try to find out a bit about your course by talking to others who have run it before you. Are their hills? is there uneven terrain or sand that you need to run on? Knowing these things will help stop you from being surprised (and unprepared) on the big day.
Also, if you are planning on wearing new shoes, a new outfit or changing up your diet or supplements, practice using them a few weeks ahead of time. The last thing you want is blisters and chafing from your new clothes and an unset stomach from your new diet. My rule is that if it wasn’t with me in the last few weeks of training, don’t use it
ABOUT ANDREW PAP
Andrew Pap is a SKINS athlete and the owner of Battle Fit Australia.
In the video he is wearing the new SKINS DNAmic range
Here is the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1bhazozXWc