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Stepping Up From a Mini to a Half Marathon

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • It is best to undergo a detailed health checkup before you start any training, paying particular attention to heart health screening.
  • Those wishing to make the step up to a half marathon should have a basic foundation of running, meaning that they are already able to run continuously for at least 30 minutes, and have previously trained three times a week for at least four weeks at a time.
  • It is not necessary to have run a full 21 kilometers in training. If we’re able to run 16 kilometers (or 10 miles) in one or more training sessions, we will have sufficient fitness to complete a 21-kilometer race thereafter.

 

I have plenty of experience with running. Therefore, I would like to share my particular experience of training for a half marathon with you all.

The half marathon or 21.0975-kilometer race is viewed as a milestone for all new runners who would like to give themselves a greater challenge after competing in 10-kilometer events. The step up to running a half marathon is not viewed as being too far a leap for most.

Runners who have already completed a 10-kilometer race are believed to possess the physical and mental fortitude necessary to train for running over a longer distance. But how can we tell if we are truly ready to run a half marathon?

Currently, an ever-growing health care trend is spreading among people of all ages, while running in particular is exploding in terms of popularity. However, before we start out on our own training plan, it is important that we undergo a health examination, paying particular attention to heart screening assessments. I, myself, highly recommend that all runners go through such a process before training.

For those wishing to run a half marathon, having a sound base of running experience is of huge importance. This means being able to run for at least 30 minutes at a time, and having previous experience of training three times a week, for a period of at least four weeks.

Generally, the training load should gradually be increased by no more than 10% each week. Hence, those with no previous half marathon experience should set aside 10-12 weeks for training prior to the race itself.

Below is a sample training schedule which I modified for my own use. It was sourced from www.runnersworld.com:

WeekMonTueWedThuFriSatSunTotal  distance
125 min cross-training3km25 min cross-training3 kmRest5kmRest11km
225 min cross-training3km25 min cross-training3 kmRest6.5 kmRest12.5 km
325 min cross-training3km25 min cross-training3 kmRest8 kmRest14 km
425 min cross-training3km25 min cross-training5 kmRest5 kmRest15 km
535 min cross-training3km35 min cross-training5 kmRest9.5 kmRest17.5 km
635 min cross-training3km35 min cross-training5 kmRest11 kmRest19 km
735 min cross-training5 km35 min cross-training5 kmRest12.5 kmRest22.5 km
840 min cross-training5 km40 min cross-training5 kmRest6.5 kmRest16.5 km
940 min cross-training5 km40 min cross-training6.5 kmRest14.5 kmRest26 km
1045 min cross-training5 km45 min cross-training6.5 kmRest16 kmRest27.5 km
1135 min cross-training5 km35 min cross-training5 kmRest8 kmRest18 km
1225 min cross-training5 km25 min cross-training3 kmRestRestDay of Race29 km

You can see that this particular plan has four main aspects, namely:

  1. Cross-training: Strengthening various areas throughout the body, not just those used when running. If such training is practiced regularly, it will not only strengthen our muscles, but also allow us to run faster.
  2. Long running: It is generally recommended to do such runs on a Saturday, so that you have Sunday to rest and recover.
  3. Rest day after a long run.
  4. Taper before the big day: Training distance and intensity should be reduced during the week leading up to the race, in order to allow the body to recover from training and ensure that it is fully prepared for race day.

You will also see that it is not necessary to run a full 21 kilometers in training. If we’re able to run continuously for 16 kilometers (or 10 miles), this means our fitness is sufficient to complete a 21-kilometer race.

Rest and nutrition are just as important as training your body to run long distances. You will notice that training schedules always alternate between rest days and training days, because the body requires time to recover after each session. Furthermore, getting the right nutrition is crucial for building strength. Thus, it is easy to see how recovery plays as large a role in training as the running itself.

Appropriate footwear is another huge factor, as those shoes will be supporting your body throughout your run. For this reason, making an informed decision about which shoes to buy should take foot shape into consideration, which is key to achieving our objective. Just remember, shoes that may seem fantastic for others may not always be the right ones for us, too.

For me personally, a half marathon represents a fun but challenging distance, while the training schedule required to complete such a race is by no means out of reach for most. I believe that with the right attitude towards training, you can all have fun and avoid injury while competing at a half marathon distance.


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