I have ran two half marathons now and unlike 5 and 10ks where you can get away with very little to no training you do need to put some effort in for the half marathons. Preparation is key to get you through the 13.1 miles and will make running the distance easier to handle and also to complete safely. This is what I do to prepare.
Practice in the kit you are going to run in
Race day isn’t the day to try a new piece of kit out. Try the new trainers or item of clothing on a training run.
Don’t try new food before race day
Again you don’t want to make yourself ill by trying to eat something new on or the day before race day. Test your energy gels or food on the day and don’t try a new meal the night before just eat bland food.
Run at least eight miles comfortably
Six miles was an easy run for me as I aimed to run that distance in most runs I did as a minimum and that massively helped my frame of mind when I couldn’t run two weeks before the Great North Run due to illness. I had also done one run that was eight miles long and knew that 13.1 was achievable. You do need to do the training beforehand.
Make sure you keep yourself hydrated during the run
I learnt the hard way whilst running the Manchester 10k how if you don’t keep yourself hydrated you can easily make yourself ill. I had a large headache by the end because I didn’t stop and drink at all of the hydration stations. Make sure you drink even if it is just a tiny bit at each hydration station.
Memorise the route
I always look at the map of the route beforehand and pick out some key points. This means on the way round I know roughly how long I have left.
Turn up early
It is not fun to start a race late or even worse finding that the baggage bus has already gone by the time you are putting your bags in (I saw plenty of people running for the moving baggage buses at the Great North Run). Arrive early and it will help with the stress.
Pack the night before
Or if it is a day trip out make sure your kit and nutrition is ready the night before. Again it avoids the stress of finding clothes in the morning or finding out that the shorts you were going to wear are in the wash.
Bring some support
It was lovely to have my Mum there for my first half marathon. Having friends or family there make it a bit easier (plus they can help you out at the end!).
When my right knee was niggling a few months back I completely stopped running and took up swimming instead. It gave my knee the rest it needed but still kept me active. I also did weight training. It all helps.
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