So, it’s your first half marathon and you’re probably thinking “where do I start”, right? We’ll tell you where, footwear! It’s not as easy as picking up your favourite Nike free runs and hitting the roads, you need to ask yourself “do I have the correct footwear”? Fashion trainers are out I’m afraid, we see so many people in our clinics with niggles in their knees and hips due to incorrect footwear. They may look pretty but they don’t make your knees feel pretty! Supportive footwear is key in injury prevention when you’ll be racking up the miles road running. If you are unsure of which trainers are right for you, why not ask for some assistance in a sports shop or pop into see a physiotherapist for some advice. Once you’ve got your trainers right then, the hard work can begin.
Most running coaches advise you to start running at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes. If you’re completely new to this you can walk/jog and build it up from there. It is also advisable to complete a long run of about 3 miles each week, adding 1.5 miles on per week until you’re up to 13.1 miles. Again, you don’t need to run the whole way, walk/jog is a form of interval training which is an excellent way of gradually building up your cardiovascular system. Sounds easy, right? Well that’s not all, what people often find is they overdo it and don’t have adequate rest days. If you’re a complete novice, you may need 2 days rest between each run, that’s totally fine! Your body is pretty good at adapting and you’ll soon notice your body starts to recover more quickly.
One thing that many people don’t consider is how strong their muscles are. Sometimes it’s not quite as easy as putting on the running trainers and going for it. If you’ve set yourself 12-14 weeks training for a half marathon then I suggest you also add in some hip strengthening exercises to ensure your glutes (that’s your buttocks) are strong and can offer stability to your knees when running. Hip strengthening is particularly important for those of you who are either taking running up for the first time and/or sit at your desk all day. Sitting makes our glutes lazy, have a look at the video below to find 3 simple exercises to wake your glutes up and kick start them into action! These exercises can be completed in the house without equipment, 2-3 Times per week.
An adequate warm up and cool down is also essential. For a warm up, why not simply ease yourself into a run over the first couple of miles then pick up the pace as you feel able. Your body is very good at telling you whether it is ready for action or not, so let the legs guide you! What a lot of people often neglect, is a cool down. Simply stopping exercising causes your muscles to contract and shorten which is when people start to pick up the likes of “niggly” knee pain. Whereas gentle stretching, facilitates healing helping the muscles fibres recover more quickly. Why not head over to our YouTube Channel and complete the following glute, hip flexor and hamstring stretches? Don’t wait until you are sore and stiff, prevention is key!
One week to go until your Half Marathon..
So, you’ve done the hard work and it’s one week to the big day. Strengthening, stretching and running is on point, but you’re thinking should I still run or should I rest? Often the biggest mistake people make is having a week off or taper too much, this can often make you feel sluggish and not race ready. Two to three relaxed 30 mins runs are advisable, all your long runs should have been done by now and, try and avoid any heavy strength sessions this week. And finally, don’t buy new trainers now! People fall victim to injuries and blisters close to the race because they want some new sparkly trainers for race day! If you’ve trained in old trainers and you’ve been running well, stick with them! They’ll definitely have 13.1 miles left in them!
Final 24 hours..
If you haven’t had time to get a few short runs in, then a 15-20-minute light jog to keep your legs ticking over is fine, followed by some gentle stretches which I’m sure, you’ll be a pro at by now! Don’t change anything that you normally eat and certainly don’t over eat! And finally, get to bed early and have your race kit set out so there is no rushing or stress in the morning.
Half Marathon Race Day!
Try and eat 1.5-2 hours before the event. Again, don’t eat something that you’ve never tried before that your mate says will make you run faster. It’s a lie! Stick with what you know, same as your trainers – don’t change what’s not broken. If you’ve been training with a sugary or high in carbohydrate snack then make sure you have some in your pocket or bum bag to take round with you. And lastly but most importantly, hydration – don’t over drink or have more than normal. Small sips are adequate and remember, if you do feel thirsty there will be a water station on the way around so don’t panic.
So, all there is left to say is Good Luck! If you’ve followed the advice given, then you’ve got this!