Half marathon how-to

CPMarathon1

It’s that time of year again. With spring approaching, getting fit is on everyone’s mind. Whether you want to get in shape or just to challenge yourself physically and mentally, running a half marathon may be just what you need.

Jeff Richter, Samford University graduate and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, revealed some helpful training tips.

How would you tell an inexperienced runner to train for a half marathon?

The runner should first ensure that he or she has the general work capacity, strong muscles and healthy joints necessary before undergoing an intense running program such as half marathon training.  

Try to spend the first two months of your half marathon training program incorporating a low volume of mileage and a higher volume of strength work. The progression into incorporating more mileage should be gradual.

Three to four runs a week is a productive amount, and allows for optimal recovery. Those runs should include a variety of training methods.

What are some things you should not do when training for a half marathon? What are some ways a person could get injured when training?

The biggest mistake I see people make is a lack of strength training. Not only does strength training reduce injury risk, like I previously said, but strength is the foundation for speed.

How important are recovery days when training?

Recovery days are vital, but should be used for more than just sitting down and relaxing. Take advantage of doing your own soft-tissue treatment to ensure that your tissue quality is optimal. In particular, utilizing something like a foam roller can help release muscle trigger points.  

How should someone train differently the week before the race? 

There is no doubt you should have a lighter training volume the week before your race. If you have done your workout appropriately you will have just completed your peaking phase and would now be on the taper phase.

Tapering is important because at this point, you should have done the necessary work to successfully complete the race. This week is about maintaining what you have trained for.  

Does someone ever need to run a full 13.1 miles during training?

Yes. This is because of a variety of reasons but perhaps more important than the physical “I can do it” factor is the mental “I know I can do it” factor. The mind game of preparing to perform well is an important piece of the overall puzzle to ensure you have a great race. 

How should a runner recover after finishing the race?

Drink lots of water and remember that your electrolytes are probably severely diminished, especially if the weather was hot. Having a recovery sports drink with sodium and potassium ensures you are replenished fully from a liquids standpoint. Also, eat a lot of protein to rebuild the muscle tissue that got broken down during the race.  

Photo by Courtney Price