Mayday Hospital Care

Advice on running a half marathon

The first thing you need to decide is what your goal is for the half marathon. What time would you like to complete it?

With only 10 weeks to go the most appropriate goal would be to simply finish the race and not be too concerned with the time in which you complete it. As a benchmark, you could go out for a run and see how long you can go without stopping or set a course of a particular distance, e.g. 2 miles, and see how long it takes you to complete it.

Once you know where you are starting from, it’s much easier to begin planning.

With only 10 weeks to go, the most important goal is to simply plug away at the distance gradually and progressively to help avoid injury. If you do too much too soon, the risk of injury is much higher.

If you are moderately fit, you may find that the 2-mile course mentioned earlier takes about 20 minutes (10 minutes for each mile), which puts you on track to complete the half marathon in 2 hours and 10 minutes—a very respectable time!

If this is where you begin, you need to build up a further 10 miles in weeks 1-9 of the training, with the final couple of miles being added on race day.

Traditionally, endurance exercisers complete one longer-duration session each week. This often happens on a Sunday, but you can carry it out on whichever day suits you.

 

Your longer runs may progress as follows:

Week 1 – 3 miles (30 mins)
Week 2 – 4 miles (40 mins)
Week 3 – 5 miles (50 mins)
Week 4 – 6 miles (60 mins)

And so on until you reach 11 miles in week 9. This progression is a little more than is generally recommended. A general rule is that no more than 10 per cent of your weekly distance should be added to your longest run.

Throughout the rest of the week, aim for 2-3 sessions on alternate days to allow for rest. These sessions can be shorter. However, the intensity can be a little higher to increase your speed.

You could try alternating between a walk/jog for 1 minute and a faster run for 1 minute.

Ensure you get plenty of rest between sessions. On the shorter runs, you could also use your gym to carry out a general resistance training programme to maintain muscular strength and reduce your injury risk.

In the final week of the training, avoid the temptation to go for one more long run. In the seven days leading up to the race, go for two shorter, more intense sessions with a couple of days of rest before the big day to ensure you have fresh legs for the race.

Vary the surfaces on which you run, e.g., roads, treadmills, or grass, as this can help reduce some of the impact on the joints.

Machines such as the cross trainer and cycle can also be useful in between sessions to maintain your fitness but, again, reduce stress on the joints and help avoid injury.

This is a very brief outline of how you might train.

It would be a good idea to speak to one of the instructors at your gym, as they will know more about your exercise and health history and be able to tailor the programme more specifically to your individual needs.