When you decide to run a half marathon for the first time — or the first time in a long time — it’s a good idea to keep one important truth in mind: A half marathon is a big step up from a 10km race! Although it is just over twice the distance, the fatigue accumulation is not exactly double. To make sure you’re prepared for the unique challenges of a half marathon, follow this simple five-step half marathon training plan.
Step 1: Stay in the zone.
One of the most effective things you can do to prepare yourself for the full 21.1 km (13.1 miles) is to train the majority of time in your Zone 2 (endurance) training zone. Doing this will optimize your fat utilization, improve your capillarization (oxygen-carrying capacity), and increase your heart and lung capacity. If you spend 80-90% of your training in this zone and the other 10-20% in Zones 3 and 4, you’ll be ready to run your best race at this distance.
Step 2: Pace yourself.
Ramp up gradually. Everyone starts from a different point. This sounds obvious, but not everyone will be honest with themselves. Make sure your training plan is tailored to you. The best plans consider your sport, training schedule, injury history, available resources, and overall life balance. Humango factors all of these aspects into your training to deliver an optimal, personalized plan. All you have to do is follow along and put in the work. While training with Humango is the ideal scenario, if you aren’t in a position to customize your training, be honest about your starting point and check that your training meets you where you are — not beyond or behind.
Step 3: Plan your prehab.
Training for a half marathon can be grueling on your body. Your soft tissue, joints, and organs (especially your heart) will work hard. Prehab is a proactive training approach designed to help you avoid injury by building a strong and resilient machine. Effective prehab methods include massage, hot/cold therapy, rolling, yoga, pilates, strength and functional training, compression boots, trigger point therapy, physical therapy (especially if you have a pre-existing or known pre-injury state), sleep, and even swimming. Choose the best options that fit your lifestyle and incorporate them into your training routine. By scheduling your prehab activities, you’re more likely to follow through with them — and that goes a long way toward ensuring safe training and a successful race!
Step 4: Practice. Practice. Practice.
Every aspect of training can mirror your actual race day, so practice your race day process whenever possible. Practice (and refine) your hydration strategy, nutrition plan, pacing, visualization, warm-up, and morning routine. You can even train in the gear you’re planning to wear on race day. By practicing everything in training that you will be implementing on race day, you’ll get your body and your mind ready and make the race itself less stressful. Continually learn from your training and refine what went well and what you would do better. Then, when race day arrives, you can run with confidence, knowing your plan is already well rehearsed and all you have to do is put it into action.
Pro tip: Don’t be tempted to change your race plan at the last minute based on something you’ve never practiced. A well-known racing adage advises, “nothing new on race day.” This is a good rule to follow.
Step 5: Pick equipment that’s right for you.
Equipment ranges from shoes and shorts to tops and socks, and every racer is built differently. The perfect shoe for one athlete may not necessarily be the best shoe for you. Don’t get caught up in marketing and hype. Do your research and get clear on what you need. Maybe you need a 3mm drop shoe with high stability, but your training buddy runs best in a 5mm drop with high cushion. Take the time to do your “educated buying.” Try out your equipment. Get fitted. Talk to the professionals who care about your well-being — not just selling you the next big thing. It’s helpful to remember that you can’t always get it right. There might be some trial and error in this process. You will be continually learning and gathering information as you train, fueling you for better choices in the future.
As you can see, the secret to successful half marathon training is creating a training plan and race day routine that works for you. Humango can help you customize your training and set you up to run your best race from the starting gun to the finish line.