Training for your first half marathon can be daunting but done correctly can lead to a successful race. Here are our top 10 tips for training for your first half marathon.
1. Start training early. We see lots of runners in our injury clinic who have signed up for their first half and not left enough time to train, a half marathon can’t be blagged it requires a structured training plan of at least 12 weeks.
2. Increase mileage slowly. Increasing mileage too quickly leads to injuries, your structured plan should increase mileage at a steady rate to avoid injury.
3. Alternate surfaces. Running on road can be tough on the joints, consider alternating your runs between road and trail.
4. Speedwork. Don’t forget to incorporate speed work into your training plan, speed work will not only help your pace it will also help improve your cardiovascular fitness.
5. Trial energy gels. Some energy gels can be bitter in taste or upset your stomach so worth testing them before race day to avoid any stomach mishaps.
6. Test water stops/ timings. Check where on the race course the drinking stations are and train with these in mind. If the stations on race day don’t match your fluid intake requirements in training they aren’t going to match on race day so practice running whilst carrying water.
7. Cross train. To avoid injuries mix your running training up with cycling, swimming and weight training.
8. Focus on posture and technique. Getting technique right in training will help prevent injuries and keep your running efficient on race day. Bad posture can consume valuable energy and hinder lung capacity.
9. Stretch. So many runners don’t stretch and then wonder why they have sore tight muscles and are suffering with injuries.
10. Consider pilates or yoga. Both pilates and yoga are great injury prevention tools to any sport, help to address any imbalances and correcting any problem areas before they become an issue.
Yoga highlights tightness and weakness in our body, our muscles and our fascia. We can then address the identified problem areas with appropriate stretches and poses. Addressing these tight areas can restore the muscles elasticity, strength and integrity. Improving muscle length and flexibility will make it less likely for the muscle to tear, pull or be strained. Improved flexibility will allow for more movement at the joint. Limited range of movement at joints causes injury not only to the joint itself but also the surrounding structures including the bursar, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Yoga holds the pose so creates strength through the range of motion rather than just strength in a shortened muscle, this means that the muscle will be strong in any position whether it be at mid point, shortened or end range of movement. Holding the poses and postures can improve strength imbalances of the muscles. Most athletes have a stronger more dominant side, yoga helps to address this muscular imbalance of the body by allowing you to focus on areas that need work.
Yoga can also improve core strength and stability, strengthening the core is an important part of most sports. The core muscles support the whole body so a weakness in the core can create imbalances in muscles throughout the body and also lead to back pain and posture related injuries.
Yoga should be an integral part of your training plan to reduce the risk of injury. Check out our yoga classes here.
Ever heard the saying use it or lose it? Well this is known in the fitness world as the 5th principle of fitness; reversibility. Reversibility happens when we stop exercising whether it be cardiovascular training, strength training or flexibility training. We can start to lose our fitness as soon as 2 weeks after stopping training/ exercising, something I know only too well when I go on holiday and don’t do any exercise. When I go back to work and start teaching my 20 classes a week by the weekend I can hardly move because of muscle soreness. It usually only takes a week to get back to my original fitness level, thankfully, but the longer you take off from exercise the longer it takes to get back to your fitness level.
This shows that consistency is key to maintaining and improving fitness, strength and flexibility, but this can also be applied to weight lost. Lots of people take up exercise to lose weight and upon reaching their target weight they give up exercise only to put all the weight back on again. To maintain long term weight loss you must maintain some form of exercise/ physical activity. If weight starts to creep back on you will need to increase the intensity of your exercise to continue to lose weight. If you are struggling with weight loss or improvements in fitness, please get in touch.
I recently covered a class that left me shocked. I was absolutely amazed at their lack of mobility, strength and fitness levels. The class participants weren’t old, injured or recovering from illness but they were stiff, weak and unfit, by unfit I don’t mean they were overweight and out of shape, I mean they were puffing and panting after a few squats. I know people in daily life aren’t as active as they used to be and as a population we are more sedentary but the effect this has on our bodies is scary. This class couldn’t sit crossed legged on the floor, they couldn’t sit with a straight back despite blocks and raises under their bums, they couldn’t get up off the floor from a kneeling position and none of them were over 55. Their lack of mobility is due to lack of use, sitting all day is shortening the hip flexors and hamstrings, leading to back pain and other posture related problems. This sitting down sedentary lifestyle is causing poor fitness levels due to inactivity, Ive 80 year old participants that come to classes 3 times a week that are fitter than this class, they are fitter because they move more, they keep active and exercise regularly. If you don’t keep active you will lose fitness, strength, flexibility and become old before your time. Nobody wants to be weak, stiff and immobile when they are old let alone when they are young, so get moving and incorporate some physical activity into your life and stop sitting down all day.