Running a half marathon is hard work, but the swell of pride you feel after crossing the finish line is indescribable. I have completed two half marathons, and they were both wonderful experiences. Follow my training tips so that you can look great, feel great, and most importantly, finish your half marathon.
Increase Your Mileage
I recommend doing two short runs and one long run per week. Your short runs should be no more than 3-5 miles each. Your first long run should be challenging to you, but not unattainable.
Increase your long run’s distance by one mile each week. For example, if you ran a 5-mile long run your first week, your second week’s long run should be 6 miles. Continue in this manner to increase your mileage and reach your goal.
Feel free to occasionally replace one of your short runs with some sprints at a local track. Sprinting exercises help build your body’s stamina and increase your overall speed.
On days when you aren’t running, you need to do some cross training. I enjoy doing yoga on my cross training days to give my muscles a good stretch.
Other great cross training exercises include cycling, swimming, and weight lifting. I have found that virtually any type of exercise works for cross training as long as you are getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat.
In addition to cross training, don’t forget to give your body a break! You should give yourself one rest day per week to recover from all the hard work you’ve been doing.
Fuel Your Body
On running and cross training days, it is imperative that you stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Have some electrolyte-replacement beverage to replenish the nutrients that you’ve sweated out during your exercise.
A good way to gauge your hydration level is to look at your urine. The clearer your urine is, the more hydrated you are.
While training for a half marathon, you may find yourself hungrier than usual. It’s okay to eat more, but don’t fill up on junk. Consume a lot of fruit, vegetables, and lean meat.
When your race day is drawing near, it’s time to tone down your training. Begin tapering your mileage down at least three weeks before the race. You don’t want to run 13 miles on your own the week before you’re supposed to run that distance in a race.
Finally, once you have crossed that finish line, give your body ample time to recover. I usually wait two to three days before exercising, and I wait at least a week before running again.