How to Begin Training for Half Marathons

With the proper vision and dedication, crossing the finish line of half marathons is attainable for runners of all backgrounds. The important thing to beginning your training is having a proper understanding of the end point. Research a race you’d like to sign up for and be sure that you’ll have roughly three months to train for it. Start small to get yourself used to the running and then work endurance-building and pace-setting strategies into your workouts. Do a cross-training workout each week, such as swimming, biking, aerobics or yoga, to help build the supporting muscles and improve overall agility.

Allow Plenty of Time for Training

A generous allotment for road race training is about one week for every mile in the race, so allow about three months for half marathon training. If you were guaranteed to run four to five times every single week of your training, you could cut this down to about 10 weeks. The three-month schedule will provide a nice cushion for the weeks you can only get out and run once or twice. Start with two short runs of two miles, a medium run of three or four miles, and a long run of about five miles.

Get Acclimated to Your Running Form

If you’re a beginner runner, take about a week to go on several lightly paced runs to get a sense of your breathing and body’s form. Don’t push yourself in this testing period, but run at what feels like a jogging speed. Focus on keeping your back and shoulders tall and straight, swinging arms vigorously and opening up your stride for long, lean steps. Do strength training to further tone and shape the muscles needed in running.

Build Endurance and Add Challenges

Every two to three weeks, add about a quarter mile to your short run, a half mile to your medium run and about a mile to your long run. By the hardest week of your training (about two or three weeks before the race), your short run should be about three-and-a-half miles, your medium about 7 and your long run should be a bit over ten miles. If you can, keep one run a week its original short distance, to practice speed and interval training on. For interval training, alternate between a light recovery pace and a high-intensity speed, for stints ranging from 30 second to a two minutes. Take some of your runs through hilly courses to prepare for legs of the race that will be less than flat.

Practice Pacing and the Final Kick

One of the greatest challenges in running a half marathon is learning how to conserve your energy and speed for where it matters. Even once you’ve gotten several weeks of good training under your belt, resist the urge to start out with a hefty speed. Always begin your runs at what feels like a jogging, warm-up pace. Increase speed gradually, so that you’re hitting your highest intensity in the later miles of your runs. Save enough for the last several hundred yards of the run, where you’ll want to give it everything you can to sprint across the finish line.


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