By LifeSport Coach Lucy Smith
Long enough to get in a great running experience, but short enough that you don’t need months to recover, the half marathon lets you practice strong running and appreciate the beautiful courses our community has to offer. A half marathon provides a substantial and rewarding goal to runners looking to increase their physical and emotional strength. Running a half marathon is closer to running a 10k than running a marathon, and is a very attainable goals for anyone who has either run a 10k or can run for an hour nonstop. Choose an awesome course, like Banff Marathon, and time will fly buy as you run through the glorious scenery of Canada’s oldest national park.
Planning for and running a half marathon is an excellent way to boost your run fitness and expertise, and will provide lasting endurance and strength base that will carry over into the next run goal on your horizon. A half marathon will appeal to those runners who want to improve their running and for those who want to test their mettle without the heightened fatigue associated with the rigours of full marathon training.
Planning for and training for a half marathon should be structured around careful and progressive training starting several months out of the event. If you have run a 10k or can run for around an hour without stopping you can realistically run a half marathon by simply building in one longer training run each week. You don’t need to carve out many more hours each week for running, but plan for one longer training run each week, which increases in duration gradually, and gets you close to what you expect to run the half marathon in.
To stay healthy, increase the duration of your long run by 10 minutes every week and gradually working up to a run that will be close in duration to your expected finish time. Try to get out at least 2-3 other times for shorter runs during the week, or cross train to reduce impact and the chance of injury.
Other things to keep in mind when considering running longer distances are to maintain core strength and stability as this will reduce the chance of injury. Twice a week sessions of 20-30’ of core and stability after a run is a good start and adding basic running drills into one shorter run a week will help build strength of form that helps when fatigue sets in. Focus on quality during drills and it will transfer to efficient running in long sessions
As your run duration increases, so do caloric needs. The body burns through carbohydrates in endurance exercise and replacing calories lost has been proven to improve performance over long endurance runs. As your runs get longer than ninety minutes, taking a product like a PowerBar gel every 45 minutes will help maintain energy.
A few more pointers for positive running:
‘Energy flows where attention goes’. This means paying attention to what you are doing and doing it well. Use a positive mind set and positive self talk as you run. Running can be tiring, and your mental state can get you through some of the harder days.
A relaxed body goes faster. While running, check your shoulders, neck and face for lack of tension. Breathing deeply and with a strong exhale rhythm is also a way to ingrain a relaxed form.
Make friends with the hills during your training runs. Look to the crest and run up and over the hill with rhythm, using arms slightly more to drive the knees up the hill. Being strong on hills in your training will help you on race day.
Half marathons are unique events for distance runners. Choosing a longer distance race means more time to enjoy the experience, longer time in nature and a vibrant opportunity to surround yourself with like minded others. Running a half is a wonderful goal for those who are dreaming about the marathon. The half will give you a taste of the adventure of longer distances while allowing you to maintain a similar training regime for 10k and shorter events.
LifeSport coach Lucy Smith has had a successful professional distance running and multisport career that has earned her 19 National Championships and 2 Silver World Championships Medals and. A coach, author and mother of two, Lucy has inspired hundreds of runners through her speaking engagements and shares her passion for personal success by coaching athletes all over the world.