You’ve signed up and paid your entry fee…now what?!
It’s probably not wise to do a half marathon without any preparation so here are some top tips to use leading up to your half marathon.
I’ve only run the Great North Run twice so my experience is limited but these are the tips I wish someone had told me. I’ve signed up for the Liverpool Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon and the GNR (again) this year so I’ll definitely be applying these this year.
3 – 6 months to go: CHOOSE A SUITABLE TRAINING PLAN (& ACTUALLY DO IT)
I tried to use a training plan for my first half marathon, I was hit and miss with it. I think I probably did 2 long runs which wasn’t enough. I didn’t build up slowly and I ended up injuring my knee (typical). For my second attempt, I started my training plan earlier, I was still hit and miss but I was determined to get a PB so I completed more of my training runs than the last time.
This time I’ve been religiously following my training plan. I use My Asics which not only lets you create a personal plan but it also gives you an estimated race time.
3 – 4 months to go: START WEARING YOUR RACE DAY TRAINERS
One of the worst things you can do is wear new trainers for a long race, I like to use my shoes for a good few months before I use them to race so my feet can get used to them. There’s nothing worse than getting half way through and getting a blister.
3 months to go: START LOOKING AT THE ROUTE
It’s pointless completing flat training runs if your race is full of hills. Research your race route and adjust your training routes to suit. If you can, recce the route to see where you can go flat out, or where you’ll need to keep some energy in reserve. It’s also handy to find out where the water stops are.
2 months to go: HOW ARE YOU GETTING THERE?
You might think this is a bit premature but the closer you get to race day, the more you’ll be thinking of other things related to the day. Take travel arrangements out of the equation. Plan how you’re going to get there, who will be going with you, is there a baggage bus, where can you park etc. Plan it thoroughly so it’s one less thing to worry about. Plus there’s time to sort something else out if something goes wrong.
1 month to go: START WEARING YOUR RACE DAY CLOTHES
The chances are that by this time the weather won’t be too dissimilar to what race day will be like but with Britain being the best place to be able to get frost bite and sun stroke in the same week, don’t take chances.
Try a few different pieces of running kit leading up to the big day, try for slightly cooler weather as well as warmer weather. You don’t want that great new t-shirt you bought especially for the day to cause chafing in unmentionable areas!
3 weeks to go: KEEP YOUR DIET CONSISTENT
Whilst it’s ever so tempting to try and lose a few pounds before race day, don’t do it! Your body is getting used to what you are fuelling it with, don’t risk becoming ill because of a sudden change in diet. Stick to what you know, stick to what has been working for your longer training runs.
2 weeks to go: START TAPERING
Yaaay, the hard work is over and you can relax until race day. Whilst some people don’t believe in tapering, it’s very important to let your body recover from your training to enable you to cope with the distance on race day.
1 week to go: START WRITING A LIST OF THINGS YOU’LL NEED ON THE DAY
I’ve always been one for lists, my list looks similar to this:
- GPS watch (charged)
- Race number (and safety pins)
- Socks (and spare for afterward)
- Running vest
- Sports bra (sorry lads)
- Waist bag
- Phone (charged)
- Hoody (for before and after)
- Crappy old t-shirt (to wear from the car to the start line)
- Bottle of water
- Peanut butter sandwiches for pre-race fuel
- …and anything else I think of leading up to the day
I start writing this about a week before so the evening before I can just pack my bag and get ready for the day ahead.
1 day to go: TRY AND RELAX
Fuel your body as you normally would before a long run, pack your bag, set your alarm for the morning, and go to bed at least 8 hours before you are due to wake up.
on the day: SMASH IT!
Get there in good time and syke yourself up for the run. Queues for the loo are usually as long as the M1 so leave plenty of time to pee!
Chances are you’ll set off fast for your first mile so don’t get caught up in the fast pace at the beginning of the race, chill out and let your training do the talking.
You’ve already done the hard work, just go and enjoy the day. Take in the atmosphere and get over that finish line!
Oh, and one more piece of advice… Don’t high 5 a St. Johns paramedic… They usually have Vaseline on their hands for the unprepared!
Good luck and enjoy yourself, AAUK