How do you train for your first half marathon?

Are you planning to make 2019 your year and start your first half marathon? Super plan! But how do you start? What should you think about? How do you actually train for a half marathon? A few tips from Vifit Sport!

Run three times a week

There are many different opinions about how often you should run weekly. In principle, jogging three times a week is sufficient to build up your basic condition and train your muscles and tendons for the big challenge that is coming. Even with twice a week you can build this up, but it will just go much slower. Training once a week is enough to maintain fitness, but it won't or minimally lead to the building of fitness and strength. Do you like to train more often? Of course you can. But do not forget to take enough recovery time, especially if you are just starting. With three times of running during the week for a longer period, you can certainly manage that half marathon!

When do you have to start?

When you have to start differs per person and especially the degree of how you trained you are. Can you run 10 kilometres already? Then your preparation for a half marathon will logically be less compared to when you are just starting. Some say that starting 10 weeks in advance is sufficient in case you can run 10 kilometres already. Is five kilometres your maximum distance currently, then the preparation time will be a bit more. Think about 15 weeks. Have you just started running? Then take a year, to be sure.

So, when you have to start depends on the degree of training, because it is important to build up slowly. If you do this too quickly, the chance of injuries is high and you will probably have to postpone your half marathon.

Recover, recover, recover 

One of the most essential components of training? Recovery! Two things are especially important for recovery namely: rest and nutrition. During all your training sessions, you slightly break down cells in your body. In the recovery period after the training sessions, your body builds up again to a level that is slightly better and stronger than before. Therefore, it is during the rest period that you really get better, and throughout weeks and months that follow, you will see progress in your performance (read: you are running faster!). Take a rest day least one day a week and make sure you get enough protein and carbohydrates after your workouts. Also, take some recovery days where you, for example, walk a little, cycle a small round or take some relaxed laps in the swimming pool (active recovery). Listen carefully to your body and sometimes give in when it just does not go well because of pain or fatigue. Better to prevent an injury, then to heal it!

Endurance-, interval- & tempo training 

The three training sessions per week can be completed in many different ways. One of these ways is to do one endurance-, one interval- and one tempo training. 

Endurance run: This should especially feel comfortable, and you have to run at a quit relaxed pace. A good indication of how fast this is for you, is that you still have the opportunity to talk. Are you able to chat the entire endurance training together with your training buddy? Then you know for sure that you are right in terms of pace.

Interval training: Intervals can have a huge effect. During an interval training you some of blocks at high intensity, alternating with (short) periods of slower running. This allows you to build up speed and improve your condition enormously. There are countless variations possible: long intervals, short intervals, more rest, less rest, and so on. For example, you can run one kilometre at a time, and then slowly restore 200 to 400 meters and repeat this a few times. The total distance can be extended slowly and the intervals can be adjusted.

Tempo training: Finally, do a shorter, but more intensive run. A quick 5 kilometres for example. It is not the intention that you go to deep this training, but it is ok if you feel it! 

Train your food- and drink intake

Next to running, there is one more important thing to practice: your food- and drink intake while running. Not everyone will need nutrition, but after running for an hour and a half or longer (which is realistic for recreational athletes at this distance) your supplies will be really exhausted. A gel or isotonic drink can offer a solution. Take it for example after one hour to avoid depleted energy supplies. It is wise to train the intake in advance because everyone responds differently to this. Practice taking gels or isotonic drinks during your training sessions so you will not be surprised on the big day.

In what time are you going to finish?

If you are not a top athlete, it does not mean you cannot have goals. You can certainly set a time goal for your first half marathon, but do not make it a must. A first half marathon is a big effort, which you should not underestimate. It is fine to set a target time, but be flexible to adjust, when it is warm outside for example, or when you just do not have your day. Isn’t finishing and enjoying your first half marathon a very nice goal already?


Author: Monique van de Velde, on behalf of Vifit Sport
Date: 14/02/2019 

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