I have run several 5ks and a few 10ks, but this year I have decided to tackle the half marathon for the first time. As you all know, preparing for this 13 mile run is NO JOKE. You are essentially running the distance of the entire island of Manhattan from north to south. Whether your goal is to beat a certain time, never walk, or simply finish the race, training your body for a half marathon is crucial. Below are some useful tips that have worked wonders for me when training:
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch – it is not uncommon to develop soreness in your legs as you increase the distance and speed of your runs. Make sure you take at least five minutes to really stretch out your legs to avoid cramping and tightness.
Practice long distance running – make sure that your first long distance run is not at the half marathon. Your body needs to build endurance and strength to last that 13 miles. You don’t have to run ten miles at a time every training session, but make sure that you do dry runs before the race.
Build muscle in your legs – one of the most surprising things I picked up when I became an avid runner is how important it is to build strength in your legs. Running alone will not help you gain the strength necessary to succeed in a half marathon. Squats, leg extensions, lunges, etc. are all critical to becoming a better runner. Weak legs have no chance of holding up over 13 miles.
Find the right shoes – as someone who has had a chronic ankle problem since the age of nine, nothing is more important that finding the perfect pair of shoes. It is well worth the cost to work with a professional when finding your running shoes.
Rest days – personally, I usually run five days a week and do weight training four days a week. Those few days of rest are very important for your body to recover. None of us are superhuman, and we are not meant to push our bodies to the limit seven days a week. Train as hard as you can for three, four, or five days a week, and give your body the break it deserves for at least two days.
Don’t give up! Keep training hard! – there will be times when you will be sore, your body will be exhausted, and your shirt will be drenched with sweat. Expect to be pushed. There is a reason why completing a half marathon is such an accomplishment -it’s hard! There is a huge difference between hurting and being hurt – don’t let some aches and pains stop you!