Running With Us – How to build your training

The Half Marathon Journey

Keeping your training in balance, enjoyable and healthy will ensure you arrive at race day, fit, positive and having learnt loads about yourself, physically and emotionally.

Get yourself a training plan that builds training in gradual increments, but take ownership of it and change it to make it work for you and your lifestyle and fitness. Remember you can always replace running with cross training to reduce the impact.

3-4 runs a week is a good aim for new runners, any additional cross training will really help boost your fitness.

Quality as well as quantity. Whilst of course the volumes of your running will increase as the weeks go by half marathon success isn’t just about the miles. Adding some controlled faster efforts into your running week can help speed up the rate of your progression.

Including some blocks of ‘controlled discomfort’ effort into one of your weekly runs will help build a stronger, bigger heart and get your mind used to pushing. Start with something simple like 5 x 3 minutes at a 3-4 word answer effort, building to 5 x5 minutes, 5 x 6 minutes or even 3 x 10 minutes with a short 90-120s recovery.

Fuel it right. Spending time thinking about your nutrition and adding as much variety as possible into your day to day diet will help you stay strong, energised and healthy by increasing your available energy and keeping your vitamins and minerals topped up.

Unless there is a clear medical reason to do so don’t exclude whole food groups from your diet. Carbohydrates from healthy, complex sources, protein with most meals and plenty of fruit and veg is the way to go. A blood test can help you check your levels for key markers such as iron, B12 and zinc amongst many others.

Positive mindset. Training for any race is a journey and isn’t always a smooth, linear process. There will be runs that don’t go to plan, races where you don’t feel great, and runs you will need to miss or change. As the weeks go by make sure you focus on positive outcomes each week, it’s about what you DO complete, not what you don’t.

Try this: Keep a training diary and note down 2-3 positives every week, runs that went well, conditioning you completed or an improvement in your nutrition. In a few weeks you’ll have banked of mindset boosting evidence of your progress.

All about balance. Your body gets fitter though stress and recovery. Your training creates a stress but it’s not until you recover that all of the adaptions take place which will leave you fitter. Balance your training with your recovery and you WILL get fitter.

Try this: Every 3-4 weeks look to include a lighter week of training, cutting back your volumes to allow your body a bit more adaptation time. Respect your rest days, your body will back your back!

A matter of dosage. Your half marathon training doesn’t just sit in isolation. Stress in your work, family or social life will impact on your ability to train and recover well. Keep and eye out for the warning signs of over training. You can monitor your day to day training readiness with an HRV app, watch for inconsistent sleep, regular small colds or niggles or a loss in motivation.

Generally speaking, your longest long run doesn’t need to be any longer than 1:45-2hrs in duration, regardless of the distance you hit. Any longer than this and you’ll just end up overtraining and doing too much when it’s not necessary. Even if you don’t hit over 13 miles…don’t panic! The accumulation of training is what gets you round, not just your longest long run. With threshold work also, you are building the strength endurance you need to finish. Good luck!