Seems an easy question, right? – Just run!
I hate to break it to you – there’s more to running a half marathon than just running.
With the Bristol Half just around the corner, I thought it would be good to share some of the tips I have picked up from treating marathon and half marathon runners over the years.
Behind the scenes training
To get yourself race ready for a long-distance run, a great deal of time needs to be put into getting those miles into your legs, but also improving your overall fitness and strength.
It is important to have an in-depth training program in place when you start your training. This will allow your body adequate rest in between training runs, but also enable you to increase your running distance over a period that reduces your chances of injury. An average training program for a half marathon – complete beginner / couch to half – should be around 20 weeks. However, if you’re happily running your local 5k park run at the weekends already, then a 12-week program should be adequate. This allows for you to not increase your mileage more than the “10% rule” – not increasing more than 10% of mileage or running time per week.
Tapering your training leading up to a long-distance race is also paramount. Tapering allows you to keep training, but to have shorter training sessions/runs to let your body to re-energise itself before the run whilst still targeting your race pace. You don’t want to have put months of training in prior to a race, and then on the day your legs have no juice left in them, because you have not had enough rest.
Race Day Ready
Before the race, it is important to have a race plan in your head and to have practiced it. It is easy to think that you’re just going to run the race at one pace start to finish. At the start of the race naturally, you will feel a buzz of excitement and want to get running as quick as you can. However, from speaking to lots of long distance runners, I have learnt that it is important to check your running speed at regular intervals throughout your race.
When running a half marathon distance, I would split the race up in to quarters.
The first quarter is important to get running at a comfortable pace – don’t go off too hard! Naturally this is the quarter runners get ahead of themselves and start the run faster than they need to or have trained for. So, during the first quarter, check your pace every 1km at least. This is a perfect way to check your pace and make small adjustments.
In the second quarter, you’ve got a good feel of the race and how your body and legs are feeling. But it is still essential to check your speed.
The third quarter is probably the hardest quarter. You are fully committed to the race, but you still have a way to go. It is important to keep to your plan, putting one foot in front of the other. I find catching up with the person in front of you or not letting the person behind you over take you, keeps my mind in check and enables me to keep going.
The final quarter (hooray), now’s the time to put all the hard training months before the race into action. Put your head down, focus on your form and go – not far till the end. Feel that burn in your legs and enjoy the run!
Throughout your training leading up to the race it is vital to keep your body in running order (excuse the pun). A weekly/monthly sports massage can help to reduce the tension in your muscles, improving flexibility, reducing any muscle soreness and generally increasing the quality of movement. A sports massage can also be used to prevent injuries: regular treatments will ensure your muscle are in top physical form allowing you to perform to the best of your ability making you less prone to injury.
A recovery massage is just as important. After your race, it is important to get yourself booked in for a soft tissue massage. A soft tissue massage after a race will help to remove the lactic acid (waste product) left in your muscles from the long run. But also offer a chance to relax after all that hard work you’ve put in.
Here at Comfort Health
At Comfort Health, we are offering any half marathon runner 15% off a 30-minute soft tissue massage. All you need to do is bring your Bristol Half Marathon race number in with you when you visit for your treatment.