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What Is Half Training?

Half training: it's training for a half marathon, a race of approximately 13.1 miles. Half marathons are popular among runners, and for good reason. While a 26.2 mile "regular" marathon can take weeks to recover from, you can bounce back from a half marathon in a week or so if you've trained well.

What is involved in half training?

Know Yourself

It's important not to begin training by attempting to run 13.1 miles the first day. If you're considering training for a half marathon, you should have been running for at least a year and should be able to run 5 miles fairly comfortably. You should run 15-20 miles weekly and perhaps have participated in 5K and 10K races in the past. A half marathon is a good next step for you.

Increase Incrementally

In half training, you will increase the amount you run weekly in order to build the endurance needed for a half marathon. Key to your training are long runs, which you will increase each week. If your starting long run is 3 miles, aim to increase it a mile each week, up to 10 miles. Adrenaline and motivation should be able to carry you the final 3.1 miles on race day.

Practice Cross Training

When you're half training, don't just run: intersperse another exercise form in with your running. This will build your overall strength and endurance. Good cross training options are biking, swimming or cross country skiing. Perhaps 2 days per week, do your cross training exercise rather than running. Cross training days should be recovery/"easier" days than your running days, so take it easy and don't push yourself too hard.

Take time each exercise day to stretch and warm up your muscles sufficiently for the work they need to do. Strength training is a good idea as well, to build up muscular endurance.

Take Your Time

Half training doesn't happen in a day. Be mindful of your strength and limitations, and set reasonable goals for yourself. If this is your first half marathon, plan on devoting at least 13 weeks to training. Don't forget to rest. Give yourself at least one day per week off from training, in order to let your body recuperate from the hard work it's doing.

Practice Running Types

During your training (as during your half marathon), you'll use various types of running throughout:

  • Easy runs: This is basically jogging. Maintain a pace where you can still hold a conversation with a running partner.
  • Long runs: These are practices for the actual race - distances of 3 miles or more in which you build your strengh, self confidence and endurance.
  • Speed runs: These are sprints or bursts of faster running where you will increase your cardiac fitness, endurance and pyschological toughness.

Running a half marathon is not easy. But with effort and motivation, you can train to run one to the best of your ability. The feeling you will have as you cross the finish line will make the hard work worthwhile.

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