November 25, 2013

Prepare for Half Marathon – Step By Step

By Marek

Prepare for Half Marathon!

During the first month of my newly found passion, I began toying with the idea of running some sort of a competitive distance event. Interestingly, I did not even consider shorter events. I wanted to prepare for half marathon. It was the first thing that sprung to mind. Maybe I considered it because I have a work colleague who ran it twice. Either way, I decided to run in the event. This would give me that extra push/motivation to run regularly. I simply wanted to have some sort of a goal.Prepare for half marathon number Not to say I did not enjoy running, but having a goal, something to work to, made it more motivating. And then of course, I announced the idea to the world – no turning back now. Now I could start to prepare for half marathon. The below is how I would train for half marathon.

Goal Set, Let’s Practice

When I decided to enter, I had roughly 12 weeks to train / prepare for half marathon (I had been running regularly for a month now). On average, I would run 3 – 3.5 miles (5 – 6 km), 4 times a week. Please be aware, this was all done indoors on a treadmill. Running indoorsIt was winter, and there was no way I would get discouraged by the weather – so I played it safe. Two months before the 13.1 mile (21km) event I decided to do half the distance and about 5 weeks before I ran for 1h45m, to check how I handle longer runs. That’s it. No other long distance runs, just the two. To prepare for half marathon the key is not necessarily to do the distance as much as it is to get into the rhythm of regular running. That one longer run (time wise) is done to check if our body is ready for endurance.

Prepare for Half Marathon – The Key Is How You Run

When I mentioned that I would run 3 – 3.5 miles, I omitted an important piece of information. That distance included my warm up and warm down, which in total made up for about a mile. Both the warm up and warm down were the same in time/distance and pace. I would start off my workout by first walking (at a quick pace) for approximately 7 – 8 minutes, then run (at a constant pace) and finish off the same way I started. This is key. During my long 1h45m run, I even had a middle interval – 10 minutes, during which I walked. Remember, the long training run is there for your body to get used to motion for a long period of time, not to push all the way through.

The Week Leading To Race Day

To properly prepare for half marathon, there is one more ingredient you need to include – nutrition. In the last week leading to the half marathon, my main focus was mainly on this. I made sure to eat very healthy, abstained from alcohol and sweets and kept well hydrated. Glass of waterI kept my regular runs going and had a rest day the day before the race. The last bit was to decide on the pace. That, I kept thinking about until the day itself.

On Your Marks, Get Set

The big day came. It was a midday start, so I had a chance to get a good breakfast in and plenty of water as well. It was only when I arrived at the venue that I finalised my pace. I wrote mile by mile target times on my arm. I kept well hydrated throughout (and made sure I visited the toilet shortly before the start). 15 minutes before the gun went off, I decided to do my warmup (fast paced walking). I was ready to go. There was nothing more I could do to prepare for half marathon.


As in my practice, I started the race off by walking the first 10 minutes. That was followed by a 40 minute run and again a 10 minute walk. With nearly half the distance completed, I restarted running (also grabbed a handful of soaked almonds which I had in my pocket). I was ahead of my preset pace and loving it. Around the 9th mile, I had my last walking interval, which lasted about 8 minutes. And then the fun started. Well rested, I decided to push the last 2.5 miles. I remember that only 2 people passed me during that time, whilst I overtook a few hundred. Many had burned out or were going at a slower pace, whilst I was running at my quickest, despite most of the final 2 miles being slightly uphill.

Personal Victory

I managed to finish my first ever half marathon in 2h14m50s. My target was 2h20m but in the back of my mind, I wanted to do 2h15m! Could I have done it quicker with less walking? Very likely, yes. Would it have been as an enjoyable experience? Probably not. By sticking to the plan, I managed to have an amazing finish and was full of energy crossing the line. I made sure to also do my warm down for 15 minutes. I have done everything by the book to prepare for half marathon and executed it in the same manner! It is very important to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. That way, you will keep going in the future. I have already signed up for the same event in the Spring. This time it will be about the pace!

To reiterate the main points. Set a goal, announce it, start practicing, stick to the plan, enjoy the process, savour the victory! This is the best way to prepare for half marathon.