The journey to a half marathon
So you’ve made your choice. 13.1 miles is the race distance for you. Your decision is to be applauded. You’re moving into very different territory if you’ve never ventured beyond a 10K on race day… yes, it’s more than twice the distance, but is that really all there is to it? Perhaps not. You’ve embarked on a long and winding journey to a very different destination, not without its potential pitfalls, but ultimately hugely rewarding!
Let’s consider what may change in your training and, importantly, your social life and day-to-day habits!
Speed Sessions –
You want to run longer and slower so you don’t need to worry about speed work, right? Wrong! Come race day you want to be running HARD for a longer period of time than you’ve ever done before…
That means higher volume sessions. And while the pace in some of them will be a notch down from what you might look to achieve if training for shorter race distances, it will still have you regularly cursing the day you signed up to this stupid half marathon (if you can manage to curse between the sharp breaths).
Long Runs –
Before now, some of your friends may have had a laugh when you had to leave early from a rollicking Saturday night out as you had a ‘long run’ of 5 miles to do the fol
lowing morning…”Get the next round in!” they doubtless cried. But, arguably more than any other race distance, the half marathon requires some exposure to ‘over distance’ training, so you get a good idea of what the pounding of the tarmac really feels like on tired legs.
Not every weekend! But on at least a couple of
occasions! See if they laugh when you say you’re committed to a 16 miler at 7am the next morning. You’re probably more likely to get looks of shock. Or awe. Or disbelief!
This maybe something you’ve never considered. After all, during training for say 10K races, many of us are guilty on fuelling-up on everything that seems so good (pizza, doughnuts and the like) – but which, in running terms, is actually pretty bad. That’s going to change. Think hydration tablets, gels, energy drinks, recovery drinks.
All these need to form part of the plan if you want to really get the best out of yourself on race day. And surely, 5 minutes after a hard run or session, a protein-rich mint chocolate-flavoured recovery drink sounds much more appealing than a chilled Pinot Grigio? (If your answer to that is a resounding “YES”, you’re either a hater of white wine or well on the way to a fantastic half marathon!)
The greater the challenge… The greater the reward!
There’s no escaping the fact that the challenge of a half marathon is just that – a true challenge. But it’s one which is within the capabilities of most, if approached correctly. Everyone will have their own goals and aspirations, but the distance is the same and the start and finish lines don’t move. What you do in preparation will dictate how enjoyable and rewarding the 13.1 mile journey between those two lines is on race day!
But remember – it’s all about balance. Don’t forget the reward! After the race is over, have a rollicking night out planned with your aforementioned friends. Walk up (perhaps gingerly!) to the bar with your medal dangling from your neck and ask for, obtain and consume a large Pinot Grigio. And should you feel the need, repeat on numerous occasions, guilt-free and safe in the knowledge you won’t have a 16 miler planned for 7am the next morning. Just an nudge to get signed up for your next half marathon…
Enjoy the journey!
If you have any questions on the half marathon distance – how to train, what to wear, what to eat etc… pop into your local Run4It shop and quiz our team of experts!