Congratulations! If you are reading this, the chances are that you have already entered the Newark half marathon, and if you have yet to enter this flat and fast event, it’s not too late – honest! There are still places available, and there’s plenty of time to train. Talking of training, now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to get yourself ready to run 13.1 miles, regardless of whether you are a first-time half marathon runner or an old hand looking to improve your time over the distance.
Before you pull on your running shoes and head out of the door, it’s best to have a training plan; there are masses of them out there, online and in running magazines, and it can be hard to choose.
To find a plan that will work for you, you need to ask yourself a few questions first:
• What is my running like now? How far can I run? How fast?
• What is my goal for Newark half marathon? Will I be happy just to finish, or do I want to run it in a particular time?
• How much time (and energy!) do I want to commit to training? How many times a week do I think I can train?
Thinking about realistic answers to these questions will give you a head start in whatever it is you want to achieve, because they will help you to choose, or devise, a plan that will work for you.
For most people, a 12-week training plan for a half marathon is about right, so starting your plan on or around 22nd May will work. If you can currently run less than 10K, you might want to start a little sooner, and if you are already running 10 miles or more, you will be able to manage with less, perhaps 8 weeks. If you can commit to running 3 times a week, that’s great and will be enough training to achieve your goal; just make sure you have a clear focus for each session. Those of you who can train 4 times a week might want to consider making the extra session a strength training one, or some form of cross-trainin,g rather than a run; the stronger you can get your legs to be before the big day, the more your body will thank you!
Whether you are going to run 3 times a week or more, and for 12 weeks or more, a good training plan will break your running down into blocks of 4 weeks; 3 weeks are spent gradually building up the volume and overall distance, and the 4th ‘recovery’ week drops mileage back down to enable your body to take on board your recent training, recover and be ready for the next block.
So, what should your first 4 weeks of training look like? The running you do during those first weeks will form the foundations of your fitness and the basis for the harder weeks to come, so it may come as a surprise to find that they should be primarily focused on easy running. That means running at a pace where you can speak pretty normally! Running at such an easy pace will develop your aerobic and muscular systems in a way that will allow you to add both speed and distance in later weeks.
So, your first 4 weeks of training might look something like this:
Steady pace is a pace where you can talk in short sentences; we’ll look at pacing in more depth in the next blog post, when we’ll also see what your next training block might look like. In the meantime, you can start working out your plan and heading out for some easy running, knowing that you are on the right lines to meet your goal.
FRA/UKA Coach in Running Fitness (trail/fell/mountain/road)