Training for marathons is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Most of the time, the most important thing you need to reach that final stretch is the mental endurance to keep you going all the way to the finish line.
While many people enjoy everything between 5K’s to full marathons, it takes a lot of dedication. It’s important to have a plan in mind and give your body the proper amount of time to train, prepare and most importantly rest. The following are a few tips you can follow in order to ensure your best performance when running a half marathon.
Plan ahead: determine your level of strength and endurance when it comes to running and decide from there. If you fall into the beginner category you will need more time to train than someone who already runs a few times a week and has participated in half marathons in the past. Map out your weekly and monthly running schedule a few months ahead. Preparing well in advance leaves room for sick days or any injuries that may require rest days.
Cross train: once you have your running schedule set, remember to add in cross training. Cross-training benefits runners by strengthening the legs (which makes for a better runner). Examples of cross training include short distance runs, long distance runs, and other forms of cardio such as cycling or the stairmaster.
Include recovery days: Long runs should be done about once a week with your longest run leading up to race day. With that in mind, remember to give yourself recovery days in between long runs and proper sleep in order to avoid over-exerting yourself and risking injuries.
Fuel your body the proper way: as with all forms of physical training, nutrition is a fundamental part of achieving your ultimate goal. A lack of proper nutrition can lead to exhaustion and decrease performance, the opposite of what we want when we work toward reaching a goal such as completing a half marathon. The majority of your meals should include complex carbs followed by unsaturated fats and protein. Map out a meal plan that meets your specific needs according to your body type and training schedule.
Wear proper gear: the best way to be prepared for race day is to train with the proper gear in the months leading up. Practice your runs using the same shoes you will be using on the day of the half marathon, wear comfortable clothing and socks that won’t slow you down, and headphones that will stay put. The last thing you want are unnecessary distractions. The best way to be prepared is by testing what you will be wearing on the day of the race throughout your training period.