Interested in moving up to the half marathon? The good news is if you are already running 5ks and 10ks you are pretty much halfway there. The ability and habit of running regularly is the first step to training for a half marathon. This race, labeled often as the perfect distance of 13.1 miles, is one most people can spend the rest of your life working on and competing in… unlike the marathon. So, if you are up for the challenge, let’s dive in to how we can go about this new training.
Frequency + consistency
While some people can get by running 3ish times/week, if one plans to finish a half marathon feeling pleasant they most likely would benefit from nearly doubling that to 4-5 times/week. This higher frequency, paired with consistency, will enable your body to become the endurance machine you need to finish and begin to master 13.1 miles. WARNING this increase in volume should be spread out over weeks and months. A good rule of thumb is allowing for 4 months of good solid base phase training before the target race date. Moving on from that we can talk about the phases of training.
If you need help writing a training plan reach out to @noahorscoob on instagram!
In your preparation for the half marathon you should try and develop a training plan to help you best prepare and make sure you are on track leading up to the race. The phases typically include a base phase, a strength phase, speed phase, taper. These phases can be split up even further as well as somewhat combined on specific cases.
What this phase looks like is spending a whole lot of time running, being on your feet. The pace of these runs should be comfortable or ‘Aerobic”. This phase looks to maximize the amount of oxygen you can move with your heart and lungs. It typically needs to be a month long at the minimum and some cases up to half a year! Some of the training sessions will be fartleks with long intervals and long runs.
This phase is also 1-2 months. It is designed to become familiar and comfortable with increased speed for long periods. Those longer interval sessions will be weekly or bi-weekly and look to increase the lactate threshold.
This phase is typically another 1-2 months. The more specific training in this phase are shorter intervals that are faster than race pace. The workouts look to increase your VO2 Max which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can absorb.
The hay is in the barn phase. You have done the work to prepare for the race now you just look to get to the starting line feeling fresh and healthy. There are multiple different approaches to tapering. Typically the intensity and speed of the work stays the same and you lower the volume by 10-20%, some people prefer even more.
You will learn one way or another what pace is ideal for you and what pace is too fast. You want to get a majority of your easy mileage at a conversational pace with your heart rate staying under control (under 75% of your max heart rate). Similarly on those faster interval workouts, you will learn how to go just fast enough and then back off when it is getting too hard.
Get Enough Calories, Other Macros
For each mile the average person burns about 100 calories. You want to make sure you aren't in a calorie deficit. In addition to the bare-minimum 2000 calorie diet, calorie burning peaks in the first hour after exercise and continues for up to 72 hours. So you might want to tack on 200 calories for each mile. But, realistically see a nutritionist and listen to your hunger cues. Similarly you want to make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates and protein and fats in your diet for your body and muscles to function properly. I help myself make it easy using supplements designed around endurance sports. Check some of them out here.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is our best resource for recovery! During sleep you release HGH naturally and that helps rebuild and repair cells. In addition sleep lowers your cortisol (stress induced hormone).
Have the Right Gear
Especially in the colder winter months, it is essential to have the right gear to stay warm and be comfortable throughout the runs. Some gear can help your overall performance as well, additionally some can help prevent injury. Being in the right shoes and gear can set you up for more success in training.
Have Running Partners
Training and racing are more fun with people you know! We have a group run at the store on Tuesdays. More on the group can be found here.
One of the biggest things you need to know is that as you increase your training volume you will need to increase your calorie intake. There are a lot of options for quick carbs as well as easy protein to help out,
Supplements can cover a lot of bases regarding micronutrients to macronutrients. We have a few brands at the store that can help makes sure you are fueled and ready for training sessions, as well as recovered afterwards.
Even when it is cold, you still are sweating and need to be cautious of staying hydrated. There are many hydration brands and sports drinks but I would say the most important thing is that you are drinking WATER. Here are a few hydration brands we carry and another I recommend.