A half marathon event requires road running of 22 kilometers (21.0975 to be precise). It is half the distance of a full marathon, hence the name.
The steady rise in number of fitness enthusiasts in India has led to substantial increase in the number of participants at marathon events. One of the main reason for the increase in the number of participants is the challenging distance. Half marathon events are the fastest growing type of race.
It’s common for a half marathon event to be held with a full marathon event, concurrently, using the same course with a late start and an early finish. The half marathon is also known as 21K or 21.1K or 13.1 miles, although these values are rounded and not numerically correct.
For a successful half marathon training, a lot of forethought is required apart from the registration and rigorous practice routine.
If you are a beginner/first timer, it is advisable to consult a doctor before starting the strenuous training program for a half marathon, especially if you are in your mid-thirties or early-forties.
Before you start training for the half marathon, you should be running approximately 16 – 24 kilometers a week.
Consider the following tips for training on how to overcome the challenges you might encounter in the half marathon.
While preparing for a half marathon, it has been found to be a common misconception that a 12-14 weeks regime would enable first timers to propel from their couches and zoom across the finishing line. As a matter of fact, the training for a half marathon would stretch across a couple of months, hence it is advisable to choose a marathon event which gives you ample leg room to get fully geared up.
- If you are a beginner, you should plan at least 20 weeks in advance for the marathon event.
- If you are an intermediate runner, give yourself 16 weeks.
- If you are an advanced runner, train for not less than 12 weeks.
- Running smart and avoiding an injury should be the goal. Hence it is very important to plan properly.
Register for a race
The countdown begins the moment you pay up and register for the marathon event. Mark the date and prepare yourself for months of exciting buildup to race day.
- Try to register along with a group of friends or with a team. Collective training will pump in a lot of enthusiasm and motivate you against all odds.
- You can also sign up for a cause. Have your friends sponsor you to run for the charity. The thought of extending help to other people will definitely motivate you during the training.
A training plan
Make a proper plan of action and pen it down before you actually start the training. A focused plan to get in shape for a marathon event helps you stay on the track physically and provides motivation to keep you going. It also helps track your progress while keeping an eye on the ultimate goal.
- Different types of training plans are available to fit different people’s needs. Choose a plan carefully that fits your schedule and suits your abilities.
- If this is your first marathon event, don’t push yourself to select a plan meant for getting a fast time. Choose a plan which helps you finish the marathon, next time you can challenge yourself in beating your personal best.
- Keep a log of your workouts while you start training. Keep a note of your performances and scope of improvement.
When planning to train consider the following things.
- Combine easy and long runs with cross training.
- Make sure your plan fits your daily schedule. Try to fit your runs into your existing routine, so as to not disturb your routine.
- Do not overdo it. Over exerting yourself in training will put you at risk of an injury, which might force you to opt out of the marathon.
Nutrition plays an important role while training for a marathon event, and as the race gets closer you must ensure that you are in the best shape possible.
- As you run longer distances 65% to 70% of your total calories consumption should come from complex carbs, approximately 20% should come from unsaturated fats and 10% from proteins.
- Eat carb rich diet the week before the marathon so that your body is prepared for the physical challenge.
- Eat light on the day of the race, if you eat a huge meal before the race, you might feel heavy and slow down.
Drink a lot of water
As cliché as it may sound, drinking water is very essential. You will be drinking a lot of water during training for obvious reasons, however in the days leading up to the race be extra sure that you are well hydrated.
- Practice carrying a water bottle with you while training, so as to keep you hydrated.
- Avoid drinking excessive alcohol and caffeine, days before the race, since they can dehydrate your body.
Rest is just as important as training and workout. Your body needs time to rebuild and repair. Skipping rest days will tax your body’s ability to recover and make you more prone to injury.
The last long run of your training should be days before the race, so your body gets sufficient time to recover.
Running a half marathon tests your mental strength as much as it does your physical fitness. Each part of the race has different mental battles.
Build your motivation for the big event from day 1, and remind yourself throughout your training of why you want to complete the half-marathon. Your training will not be successful if your mindset is not motivated. There will be some days when you wonder why you decided to do this, so get ready to work hard physically and keep your mind focused on your objective.
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