Taking on the challenge of training for a half marathon is a daunting task. With so many different opinions of how to train and when to start it’s easy to get bogged down when trying to determine the best path for yourself.
From my personal experience from running three half marathons, I think the most important thing is to not underestimate 13.1 miles. Unless you are a natural, experience, long-distance runner, 13.1 miles will feel like an eternity. You need to really understand that this race will not just challenge you physically, but mentally too. There will be points in the race and training plan that you will question why you’re even doing this. You will hit walls that will knock you down, but you’ve got to get back up. With that being said, I want to encourage you to get a training partner. In the picture featured I am with my training buddy Hannah. She pushed me to limits I never imagined possible, and I enjoyed every step we took together. It helps to have someone to motivate and encourage you when things begin to get difficult.
Moving on with the not underestimating point, don’t expect to be ready for the big race day over night. It will take time to train up to 13.1 miles. I have tried extensive training plans that take around three months, and I’ve tried the ole winging it method. DO NOT wing it people! When I was in high school playing lacrosse, a spring sport, I tried training for a half marathon in April. My “training” consisted of very few long mileage days. I was running around five to six miles about two days a week, and only for a few weeks. I was relying on my stamina from my half marathon in February to pull me through. Needless to say when I made it to race day I was not prepared. I also did not take into account the change in geography. I was use to training in rolling hills with few flat stretches. My race location was far from that. My race was in Jackson, TN which is flat… I mean completely flat! I had no idea how to pace myself, and ultimately did rather poorly with my time. Learn from my experience, train consistently for an extended period of time, and take the location of your race into account when you are training at home.
There are loads of training programs that are easily accessible. There are programs for beginners to advanced levels. These different plans take into account where your current ability is, and aim to help you grow as a runner. My personal program is rather long. When I begin to train for my usual half marathon in February I start my plan around the end of November. I keep up my normal running throughout the week, which is usually three to five miles a day, and then I slowly up my Saturday mileage. Saturdays are perfect days for me to get in a long run since I don’t have school or work. I typically start with five or six miles as my long run, and begin to add one to two miles on each week. The maximum milage I run before the race is usually eleven to twelve miles. I do recommend that you incorporate some strength and core training. It is very helpful to have strong muscles to maintain an upright positions without slumping. Posture influences breathing.
Ultimately you have to decide what will work for you, your goals and your schedule. I am including some links to half marathon programs from credible running sources.