Pre Race Preparation for a Half Marathon
A half marathon is one of the most popular distances in the running community. 21.1 km is long enough to get into a running groove and feel a proper distance, but also short enough to be a good foray into the world of distance running and know that within a couple hours or less, it will all be over.
This week, I am going to take a look at the best ways to prepare for, run and recover from a half marathon.
Preparation is something that is vital to the success of a half marathon, and everyone has their own routine for prepping themselves mentally and physically. A few things that I have found to be helpful are:
Following a varied training program: Just getting out the door and running is only a piece of it. Playing with intervals, tempo, fartlek training and long, distance runs are important to your comfort level and success on race day. One thing that sometimes gets neglected but is vital, depending on the course, is hill training!
Train Smart: Think quality over quantity. Aim for strong and varied runs. Cross train and add plyometrics, yoga, swimming, cycling and any other sport that either strengthens or stretches muscles used for running.
Research the race: It is always helpful to have an understanding of the race atmosphere and a mental image of the race course. Arriving at a race and expecting a small, intimate, flat course and finding it to be a commercial, large, hilly course is bound to throw you off track.
Rest: This applies throughout your training program, especially the week before the race as you start to taper. If you are feeling the onset of an injury, shin splints or you are slogging through your runs, consider taking a couple extra days off. Signs of overtraining are lack of appetite despite an intense training schedule, insomnia and an increased resting heart rate (to name a few). Be aware of your energy levels and remember that time off is just as important to your running performance as pavement pounding.
A week or so before the race, begin tapering or decreasing your training intensity and try to stay off of your feet as much as possible the day before the race. Don’t wander too much around the expo, despite the temptation, and wear running shoes. If you are feeling anxious, go on an easy 5-8 km run to loosen up and keep your legs fresh.
Prepare your gear: The night before your run, lay out all the gear, GUs, watches, iPods, shoes, etc so that in the morning, all you need to do it wake up, hydrate and GO!
Nutrition: Eat plenty of healthy carbs the day before such as rice and whole wheat pasta and try to avoid eating anything new. The goal is to have a happy digestive system the day of the race, so stick to the basics. The night before my half marathon this weekend, I had a dinner with a lean protein, plenty of vegetables and a couple slices of sprouted ezekial bread…it was just the morning of that I missed the memo and got it all wrong! (More on Wednesday…)
Trim your toe nails. Self explanatory and it will save you from losing toenails. If all else fails, Essie makes a fabulous black nail polish that I keep in my gym bag…just in case.
Plan to wake up early. There is NOTHING worse arriving to a race and feeling rushed. Take your time. I like to get up early, make a pot of coffee and sit and have devotions with a steaming cup and have a leisurely breakfast before heading out the door. Everyone has a different pre-race routine, but give yourself plenty of time to get through yours.
What am I missing?
What half marathon have you run or are you running this year?
See you on Wednesday for a race recap and explanation of what to do race day.