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Preparing For A Half-Marathon - 5 Training Tips For Beginners

Posted by Alex Clasper

Whether it’s your first half marathon or your aiming for your new personal best, it’s important to be prepared for the big day. You may be thinking how do I prepare for a half marathon? Ahead of running your first race, it’s important to set yourself a realistic goal and follow a structured training plan that fits your lifestyle for success. 

Everyone prepares for their race in different ways, but we’ve rounded up our five essential tips on how to prepare for a half marathon. But first, let’s review the length of the challenge you’ve taken on…

How Long Is a Half Marathon?

If you’ve run a 5 or 10-km race, you may be thinking how long is a half marathon? Am I able to take on the challenge? The truth is anyone can run a half marathon with the right time, resources and training. 

A half-marathon is 13.1 miles or 21.08-km. To put that in perspective, a half-marathon is 53 laps around a standard 400-meter track - an impressive feat! 

Tips For Running a Half Marathon:  

Tip 1: Start Training Early 

Just like an exam, when preparing for a half marathon it’s important to start early; a good training plan usually starts around 13 weeks before your race. If in doubt always use the 10% rule, your mileage should increase by 10% each week, any more and you could suffer from strain or injury. 

By working on mileage and speed over your training programme, you’ll uncover your natural tempo pace. Calculate your race pace by taking your personal best 5-k time and doing a quick sum: 

5k personal best x 2.223 = goal time for your half marathon (minutes)

Goal time for you half marathon (minutes) / 21.0975 km = goal time per km (minutes) this is your pace rate. 

If maths isn’t your strong suit, Nike have a handy calculator.

Tip 2: Invest In The Right Kit 

It’s important to invest in high quality running clothes to reduce chaffing, blisters and improve movement. The running clothes you choose can directly impact your performance; each element down to your running trainers should be lightweight, flexible and supportive. 

Starting from the top, we’d recommend choosing moisture-wicking shirts for your half-marathon training. Professional running shirts should contain 50+ UPF, the highest rating of protection from UV radiation for your skin and for everywhere else, we’d recommend opting for a SPF50+ sunscreen to avoid heat stroke, skin blistering and sunburn. Fast-drying, odour-control materials are perfect for regulating your body temperature and your smell - you can thank us later. 

When preparing for a half-marathon, you’ll probably encounter bad weather, that’s where a good 5k waterproof active jacket comes in. Breathable, but waterproof a active jacket keeps you protected from the elements, whilst ensuring optimal movement. 

Moving onto the bottom, opt for a pair of lightweight and comfortable shorts with a draw-string to prevent movement. For colder days, a pair of running leggings will help reduce injuries from cold muscles. When choosing your running clothes, it’s important to consider visibility; always pick items with reflective strips and/or bright colours. 

Tip 3: Stay Hydrated

Number three in our tips for running a half marathon, is a simple one that’s often forgotten - stay hydrated. Health professionals recommend drinking two cups of water before you run with regular intervals throughout. Aim for around 200ml every 20 minutes to regulate body temperature, minimise cramping and improve performance. 

We’d recommend choosing an insulated water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours so you can enjoy a refreshing beverage from start to finish. As you’ll make your way through a standard water bottle pretty quickly, capacity is important - look out for 750ml lightweight bottles. 

Tip 4: Practice Mindfulness 

Preparing for a half-marathon isn’t just a physical challenge but also a mental one. If you’re finding it difficult to face, why not think of it in segments? It will make the distance feel more manageable, each time you complete a third or quarter, you’ll feel a moment of achievement that will spur you on. 

During your training programme, we’d recommend running among friends or groups to practice the concept of ‘running your own race’ and maintaining your pace with deep breathing exercises. Relax into it! Roll your hands and shoulders to take your mind off any feelings of pain or discomfort. 

Tip 5: Plan Race Day Nutrition 

Train your gut with a three-week routine ahead of the half-marathon. By increasing your carbohydrate intake, you can improve your overall race performance; start marathon fueling by eating 30g of carbs every hour, if you feel comfortable increase by 10g each time. 

For inspiration, we’ve created the perfect pre-half-marathon breakfast that’s ideal for training too! 

  • Toast with nut butter 
  • Oats 
  • Eggs or yoghurt