Half marathons have become quite popular races over the past few years. Mostly because 13.1 miles is an impressive feat that is also not overly time consuming and not too difficult to train for. Sure, you have to have the dedication and devote at least three months to your training, but compared to a full marathon (26.2 miles), the half is smooth sailing. It also comes with a similar amount of bragging rights. Running 13.1 continuous miles is a big deal!
In order to perform your best in a race, you must be well-balanced in terms of health and your lifestyle. If you are training but not eating well or not getting enough sleep, you will not get the kind of results as you would if you were living a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle. To help tweak and improve your lifestyle so you can get results, we offer this course that can give you a strong foundation for healthy living. You will learn that there are five pillars to optimal health and wellness: eating, sleeping, movement, environment and thinking. By creating healthier habits in these areas, you will help your body be able to perform at its peak levels.
The best way to push yourself to do a 13.1-mile race is by signing up for one. Once you register, there is no turning back. You’re in it now and you have to get your body out of bed to train and make the good choices that lead to a strong body that can tackle a half marathon. Don’t just sign up for the nearest race, however. You need to pick one that will give you enough time to train and prepare your body for long-distance running. If you can run a 5k (3.1 miles) without stopping to walk, give yourself at least 12 weeks to train. If you are not sure about your fitness ability, this blog can help you do a fitness assessment. Once you have a better understanding of what your body is comfortable doing fitness-wise, you can create a training schedule that leads up to race day.
12-Week Half Marathon Training
For this entry, we are going to go with the 12-week half marathon training schedule. This is for runners who can run three miles continuously. It doesn’t matter how quickly you can run the miles, if you can keep a steady pace for three miles, you are good to set your training for 12 weeks out.
The first week might be one of the more difficult ones during your 12 weeks. That’s because you are just starting with the program and your body may not be used to running this much… yet. Once you get over the week-one hurdle, your body will start to get into a schedule and rhythm. The key is to just stick with it. If you need to walk, that’s OK. It’s better to walk, give your body a rest and finish your mileage than to give up and turn around. For every week, you will have five running days with two rest days. You can use one of those rest days to do cross training, but don’t go a full week without at least one rest day. Some great cross training exercises that are great for runners include swimming, biking and yoga. We recommend this yoga course, which specifically focuses on hips and hamstrings, two parts of the body that get beaten up easily while running. Strength training is also great for runners if they want to become faster and stronger at running. The key is to strengthen and tone, not to bulk up, so once-weekly strength training sessions are perfect for good balance. Another way runners can become faster and stronger is through plyometric exercises. These exercises specifically focus on strength and coordination, which can help runners get faster. Practice plymetric exercises and learn more about them with this course.
- Week One
Stick to four three-mile runs this week. You are not building up too much mileage just yet. Instead, you are focusing on being able to run this mileage strong and comfortably. You will need to create a solid base before you move forward with your mileage. On your last run of the week, go four miles. Be mindful of how your body reacted to the additional mile after the run.
- Week Two
This week will be mixed up with three and four-mile runs. Do three miles every other run. In between the three-mile runs will be your four-mile runs. These runs will help you to get comfortable with the new mileage you have built up for yourself.
- Week Three
This week has you going up to five miles. After interchanging three and four-mile runs, your body should be well-conditioned to take on five miles. Do three three-mile runs with a four-mile run somewhere in the middle. Your last run of the week will be five miles.
- Week Four
This is where you will start to step it up. In week four, you will be running three, four, five and six miles. Two days are reserved for three-mile runs, which should sandwich your four, five and six-mile runs.
- Week Five
Like week four, this week will have larger runs intermixed with two three-mile runs. Your larger mileage is one four-mile run, one five-mile run and a seven-mile run. We recommend saving the longer mileage for whatever day you have the most available free time. For many people, those days are the weekends. Once you run your seven miles, you will be more than halfway to your half marathon goal.
- Week Six
After this week, you’re halfway done with training! For your non-long runs (for many, those will be the four during the week), you will run a solid four miles. These four four-mile runs will help you focus on quality running. For your long run, we’re bumping the mileage up to eight miles.
- Week Seven
Here is where things start to get intense as you near toward your goal. It’s going to be tough these next couple of week, but nothing you can’t handle if you have been training smart and are dedicated to reaching your goal. During the week, do three four-mile runs with a six-mile run somewhere in between. Your long run will be nine miles. Almost there!
- Week Eight
Week eight is just like week seven, except you will do 10 miles for your long run instead of nine. Once you get to this amount of mileage, it is wise to invest in a runner’s belt, which can hold water bottles and energy packs like gel, chewables, protein bars or whatever you like to energize yourself with. It is important that you are properly hydrated and fueled up when you go out on these longer runs.
- Week Nine
We’re almost there! Do two four-mile runs, one six-mile run and one three-mile run to mix it up. For your long run, you will need to go 11 miles.
- Week Ten
This will be your biggest week in terms of mileage before you start to taper for the race. Focus on quality miles so you can be prepared physically and mentally. Do three four-mile runs and one five-mile run before your large run. You will be logging 12 miles on that day. Be sure to bring hydration and energy to keep you going during that run.
- Week Eleven
This is where you will start to taper in order to get prepared for your half marathon. Focus on strong, quality miles as your mileage starts to go down. Your largest run during this week will be six miles. Your ‘weekday’ distances are two four, one five and one three-mile runs.
- Week Twelve
It’s the week before the race! Relax with light running and be proud of all you have accomplished in 12 weeks. Your largest run will be five miles early in the week, as you want to go down in mileage as you approach the race. Run two easy three-mile days and one two-mile day leading up to the race. You want your muscles to be warmed up, but not overused and tired.
Training is only part of the journey to a half marathon. Nutrition is just as important as your training. You will be burning a good number of calories during training, so you need to make sure that your body is nourished with the right foods. Just because you are running long distances doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Well, you can, but you won’t get the results you want to see. In order to get those results, you need the proper vitamins and minerals to help speed your body’s recovery after those long and grueling runs. Finding foods with great nutritional values doesn’t just help your running performance, but helps your overall health. By combining running with a healthy, nutrient-filled diet, you can improve your health and overall mood tremendously. This course teaches you how food can be used as medicine and how, with the right foods, you can help your body more than you thought possible.
Take a moment to think about how far you have come. You are ready to run 13.1 miles. That is quite an accomplishment. Having an important race is not just about the training, but about being prepared. Make sure to put everything you need out the night before so you won’t be rushing to get everything together. Take a look at the weather forecast the night before so you know how to dress. If the morning is chilly with temperatures rising later on, invest in a cheap sweatshirt at a secondhand store that you can throw off to the side if you get too hot. Many races will collect these items off the course and donate them. Don’t count on the race to provide your energy. All provide water, but there are some that do not provide energy gels. Have a couple on you just in case. Most importantly, get there early! That way you will be able to find parking and get to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. The race doesn’t wait for you, so don’t be punctual, be early.
Once the race starts, you will get that thing called the ‘runner’s high’ almost immediately. The spirit of a race is one that is inspiring and will push you to go harder all the way to the finish line. And once you cross that finish line, you will think you can accomplish anything. Happy running.