my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise

How to train for a half marathon

My running number for Robin Hood 2014!

My running number for Robin Hood 2014!

It has been a while since I last published, and as I know it will come as an extra thing for you to once again fit into your busy lifestyle, I’m going to aim to keep it short…

I’ve entered the Robin Hood Half Marathon for the third successive year, despite last year’s debacle. While I’ve been training for it, I’ve read plenty of articles and books on various aspects of training for running events.

While not everyone is the same, there are certain things you’ll need to get right so that when race day comes, you’re ready to give your best!

1. Discipline
If you can’t commit to regular training sessions (even if they vary in terms of the day and time you do them), then preparing for running race isn’t for you. I run three times a week. A lot of people who run half marathon distances or longer run far more regularly.

2. Vary your exercise
While I run three times a week, I also cycle 4-6 times a week (although only between 10 and 15km at a time, on mostly flat terrain). I also try to get a ‘core strength’ session in once a week too. If you only run, you only ever exercise the muscles you need to run, to the detriment of all your other muscles that work together in able to allow your running muscles to do their job properly. The cycling keeps my legs strong and the core strength ensures my body stays balanced, enabling my running muscles to concentrate on making me run fast and efficiently.

3. Diet
I can’t say much on this factor without being labelled a hypocrite! All I will say is that lots of exercise demands lots of food to help your body recover from the extra demands you’ve placed on it. I supplement my diet with a whey protein chocolate milkshake which helps to heal my muscles more quickly. I also eat A LOT of food; some good, some not so good, but I think there is a balance there to be had and enjoyed!

4. Measure your progress
There’s nothing worse than not knowing if you’re getting better or not after all the effort you’re putting in to your training! Someone who knew a lot about sporting endeavour, Greg Lemond (the first American to win the Tour de France), once said ‘It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster.’ How do I measure my progress? 1. Strava – you’ve got to check it out! 2. My GPS watch, for live updates on how fast I’m currently running. Without my watch, I’d find it really hard to track my pace and ability to monitor how long I could keep the pace up! Without Strava, not only would I have less incentive to try that bit harder during the entire run and on various segments, but I’d be without a huge weapon in my running armoury, which beings me on to…

5. Accountability
In order to keep going when it gets tough, when it gets cold (or hot, or wet or dry!), or you go past the ‘Runningmoon’ initial burst of enthusiasm, you need someone or some people to be accountable to. People who will ask how it is going, people you might want to impress even, or just to have that nagging in your head that says, ‘I’ve not been out for a run for ages…and my friend/wife/colleague is going to ask me about it soon, I’d better go for a run!’

While of course I could mention training programmes, different running sessions, getting the right clothes, etc, etc, I think that if you concentrate on these 5 things, you’re in with a decent chance of nailing your next race and getting that PB you’ve been striving for!

What are your top tips for training for a race? Do you love making lists, poring over the data of your last run (like I do!), enjoy splurging money on all the latest, coolest running gear?!


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