Musings, Walks

Tips on Training for a Half Marathon

The Rotorua Marathon was to be held today.

Instead, many are being involved in completing the whole distance or part of by themselves and acknowledging that via  #VirtualRotoruaMarathon .  A motivating innovation to keep us focussed on training.  Since the marathon is now scheduled for September I have slowed my training down, completing just 12km walk this morning.

Yes, you really do need to be slightly mad or a happy sort of person.  I am one of those sorts, happily crazy that enjoys long-distance walking.

For me being out in the fresh air getting fitter, via the walking trails, local beach and footpaths are the way to go.

The following tips are based on my personal experience of completing a few half marathons.  Ten to be exact.   Do seek medical advise before embarking on long distance exercise.

Training Plan

There are as many training plans as there are diets.  Some are sensible, and some are downright unworkable and unsafe.  Choose wisely and always remember that a rest day is just as important as a training day.

I can’t recommend one as I have rejigged a few to suit my requirements.  Plus, I am not a qualified trainer.  What I can suggest is dont cancel your long-distance training session, extending your distance each week is the most important part of your training.  The rest of the week will involve speed work.

Many marathon events offer advice from qualified trainers.  Worth considering seeking their advice if having issues with your training.

Essentials

Watch

My watch – lets me know my speed, distance and a few other details.  A diary is another way to keep you honest with your training.

Comfortable shoes – Brooks

Music – Nothing like a bit of fast beat music to get those feet moving

Cap/Sunscreen

Hydration camel pack – with easy to reach mouthpiece, no fiddling with bottles on a belt

Nutrition

As it is still early into my training, I am eating about the same as previously. The usual three meals a day, sometimes, more than I need!  Once my training goes to the next level, I will include a few more high energy snacks in between meals.  My motto is energy in and energy out, sounds like a simple plan though sometimes hard to execute.

I have included more smoothies in my diet, not added to a breakfast or lunch, it has replaced a bowl of cereal or just fruit.  Why?  For me, it gives me more fluid and fuel faster than say a bow of cereal or a sandwich.  Absolutely, refreshing to enjoy after exercise.  Hydration is so important and very individual, listen to your body, and after more experience, you will alter what you do so it works for you on the event day.

My favourite would be banana and blueberry with a non-dairy milk and yoghurt.

The night before any long training day, I usually have easy to digest food, such as fish and rice.

Pre-session I usually enjoy a few dates [or a banana] and a double expresso even a trice one if needing a real boost [from home].  The day I was searching for some magical energy boost and found that beetroot juice is a goer.  I will let you know regarding that little gem.

The Long Walk/Run Day

Tauranga Half Marathon 2012 (7)
Photo captured by the Squire during my 2nd half marathon.

It is not rocket science since you are pushing yourself to extend your current fitness limit. You’ll have muscle pain, slight stiffness, dehydration [though this is not an issue for me as I wear a hydration camel pack], an “I could eat a horse” appetite, and a general sense of being low on energy.

This is normal, but the good news is that it isn’t permanent.

If your training plan is structured well and you’re not carrying any profound health or injury complications, then you should bounce back and spend the rest of your week feeling predominantly like a normal human being.  Though don’t worry, if you’ve signed up to run a half or full marathon, you will never be a 100% average human being again.

Welcome to the crazy few and you too can look like this after the event.  

Me having powerade - Auckland Marathon 2012
Auckland Marathon [half] completed on a warmish Spring day up and over the Harbour Bridge.

38 thoughts on “Tips on Training for a Half Marathon”

  1. All good advice, Suzanne. I agree that the most important parts of training are the long runs and the rest days. Everything in between I tweak as my schedule and mood allow. I ran one marathon and a couple of half-marathons. Now I’ve settled on the 10K for my favorite distance. Good luck to you, and may we be running in group races again soon. #MLSTL

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  2. Very sensible advice Suz, and your experience shows through in your words. I admire your tenacity and for sharing your photos 🙂 I am suffering a sore knee at the moment and cycling is the only exercise I can for any time that doesn’t hurt it too much! Sharing for #mlstl

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  3. I’m always envious of runners and marathon-ers, they’re always so fit and seem to really enjoy the challenge. I run like a drunk giraffe and really don’t enjoy endurance stuff, so I quietly applaud those who do and just keep my walking going (and accept I’ll never be as fit as I could be if I had the willpower to push myself harder!)
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

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    1. That’s funny a analogy and one that could very well suit me when I do a jog/walk moment. I walk half marathons and my best time was around the 2hr 45mins I doubt I will be doing that this year. Oh well, it is a positive challenge to keep fit. You are most probably doing far better than you mention Leanne.

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  4. Hi Suzanne, I’ve been missing my Saturday Sisters who I run with as they live an hour’s drive away. We have been keeping our training up as we had earmarked several half marathons for the year which unfortunately were postponed or cancelled. Great to see you keeping the training up and also providing some tips for those who have a half-marathon as their goal. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and I agree we are a crazy few but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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    1. Hi Sue, lets hope you all get to complete at least one half marathon this year. I love the mental challenge it gives as well as the physical. Here’s to keeping fit and crazy during our sixties and beyond.

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  5. I’ve never been a runner but I do love distance walking. Mind you the longest I’ve ever walked was 21kms on the final day of the Milford hike. I walk 10kms most days – but split across 2 walks (6am and 5pm) – yet we did 13kms on Sunday in a consecutive walk and boy was I tired on Sunday afternoon and yesterday. Feeling back to normal today though. I admire you for signing up.

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    1. I have never been a runner either. Never enjoyed it. Well done for your recent walk. Nothing new about me doing a half marathon. Next one I will be nearly 10 years older from when I first started doing them. I have continuously done long walks I just wanted to aim for another or perhaps more, we shall see how it goes.

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        1. If I tell you that it’s only 21kms do you think you would be tempted? 🙂 I love doing short, long slow walks as well as pushing myself in a half marathon. Especially love bush and beach walks, and no doubt your are same regarding those two places.

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          1. 🙂 Perhaps I could be tempted … to walk it. I do love to walk. I’ve been struggling with metatarsalgia, the result of too many years wearing heels and/or gumboots and an hour is about my limit these days but maybe I can push through.

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  6. Hi Suzanne, There are a few marathon and half marathon runners in my family so I can relate to your tips. I’ve only done 5K runs, partly because I don’t want to commit time to train for longer runs. Good for you for keeping fit with long distance walking. NZ is a beautiful place to do it.

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    1. It does require time and preparing yourself mentally. With a few family members doing it you’re no doubt saturated with their stories and want to do your own thing . It’s amazing how far I can walk within a few blocks. Luckily there’s a athletic field which isn’t very scenic though it gives me more than a 2 metre distance to anyone who arrives on the field. I’m looking ahead to a time when I can utilise more scenic areas.

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  7. I don’t really know what a camel pack is but from the last comment it doesn’t sound comfortable? I admire your commitment and energy, Suzanne, but I walk for pleasure and to admire the world around me at my own pace. Not sure I could ever get up to speed for this. 🤗💕

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    1. A camel pak is a small backpack and is very comfortable. I know you love your walks and so do I. I enjoy them more at a slower pace. Doing a marathon is more about the mental challenge than the physical. Keep enjoying your walks Jo.🙂

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  8. It must be so frustrating to have a target like that pushed back. My daughter was to debut in her first full marathon this april but thats gone. And with the 1 hour limit on exercise, long walks are a memory just now. One day… and I must include some smoothies in my diet!

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    1. I remember you mentioning your daughter participating in the London Marathon. Now that would be an incredible experience. I hope she gets another chance to have a go. As yes it is frustrating and more so for those competing in a longer distance which requires a huge amount of hours and an understanding partner 🙂 Smoothies are so enjoyable.

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    1. I do admire your son for being a marathon runner, it requires dedication like no other. I think endurance sports makes competitors mentally stronger. I come away thinking I can do it, I can survive any curveball life throws at me

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  9. Although I’ve lost a lot of weight since we met, I’m still too big to fit into a camel pack, so I wear a belt with bottles. A camel pack would be easier, but the belt has kept me going on my longer runs. The really long runs have stopped for the moment, as we’re not supposed to be outside for more than an hour. My diary tells me that my twelve mile run took almost two and three-quarter hours, so it’s going to be a while before I can do another.

    I hope you’re able to do your half in September.

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    1. Hard restrictions on the UK regarding exercise. It’s needed. Hopefully you’re be able to get back to doing more soon. An hour is a good time to work on your speed.

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