Introduction: A Beginner’s Guide to Half-Marathon Preparation
"The half marathon gives you almost all of the satisfaction and achievement of the marathon and far less than half of the aches and pain and fatigue."
-Paula Radcliffe, Women’s Marathon World Record Holder
I still remember the morning when I had to wake up to get myself at the track to cheer for my brother where he was supposed to run his first full marathon. Although I wanted to go, it was quite a mammoth task to get out of the cozy bed n that too this early when it’s pretty dark outside. But the drowsiness I felt while reaching the spot suddenly got vanished after watching the waves of enthusiasm, cheerfulness and an unexplainably awesome spirit in the air. A huge colorful crowd of thousands of people, some stretching up-getting ready for the big thing, some engaged in discussions, some arranging refreshments, few giving the last minute tips… Well, not only the participants but the people who were busy with arrangement n those have come to cheer up have brought an outstanding energetic aura in the atmosphere. My brother finished his first marathon which not only earned an achievement for him but also woke up a slept runner in me! I have to do it, I made up my mind. But 42.195KM!! It was pretty scary. “Why don’t u try half marathon” my brother suggested “it’s literally half” That sounded great n I decided to go for it. A dreamy thought of ‘crossing the finishing line’ for few days & nothing changed for next six months until my brother was up for his next marathon. I revisited the whole experience but this time with a strong determination of running a half-marathon. I got my homework done and practiced with a proper plan. Yes, finally I did it & that too in a less than the set record time for myself. There was no looking back since then. So, here I’m sharing the tips I followed while getting trained for running half marathon n EVEN the tricks to deal with and beat procrastination that might arise at the start or in between.
Step 1: The Motivation Factor - Find Your Why and Get It Hard Quoted
All the scenes on the running space looks great n inspires you for sure but that feeling doesn't last long. You may carry it for few hours or max few days, but eventually it fades away. The trick is to catch this inspired and inclined vibe to set a complete actionable plan and get set for the half marathon run. Find out why to want to do it. Is it cause you want increase your endurance, fitness level or to be back in shape? For some, it might be an achievement in itself- an added volume (notion) to self-worth.
So find your reason to go for marathon. Write it down on BOLD letters and keep it tilted on the alarm- so that whenever u wake up, it’ll remind you that you HAVE to do this.
Step 2: Preparation
As everything in the world starts with preparations, here too is no exception. Start with the preparations by collecting the necessary things those will require. If you already have got these, good! Otherwise shopping for these to add another advantage by subconsciously preparing u for the new thing coming up. Well, the basic list goes like this -
Right pair of shoes – Get a pair of shoes which is comfortable as the distance that needs to be covered is major and you would want a softer n firmly fitted shoes pair to sustain throughout.
Comfortable dresses – Just like shoes, make sure you pick up correctly fit n comfortable clothes of smooth materials as there is constantly friction against skin and lots of sweatiness. Even it’s advisable to consider weather conditions while marathon is scheduled.
Install tracing apps – There are several apps those tracks n records the distance covered. Even they graphically report your walk/run on week n month wise. Make sure you install such app to keep check on progress.
Get music loaded – Get your favourite songs’ playlist on. Make sure it consists of songs which are inspiring n upbeat.
Step 3: Mental Preparations- Deal With the Procrastination and Finally Get the Shoes on
Although you are done with preparation n you are all set, not necessarily the next morning will let u go for it easily. Or it might be possible that initial wave of inspiration might let u to do so but eventually u lose the motivation. It is because of the habit we have developed over the months n years. It needs to be tackled with certain ways. Here is a key trick I followed to get started -
On the first day, ask yourself just NOT to hit the snooze button. Instead, wake up and put ur dress on. Put on your shoes. Keep it on for 2 mins. Remove your shoes. Change the dress n again go to sleep. As it’s just matter of few mins, your mind n body wont resist to do this. Second day, repeat the same. Once you put the shoes on, just open the door n get upto your society (building) entrance. Again get back to your room. Remove shoes n running dress n go back to sleep. Coming next days, again repeat the same procedure, increasing the distance day by day. The motive of this trick is to take the baby steps towards changing your habit rather than suddenly rushing in n forcing into a drastic change. And this trick really works very effectively.
Step 4: Get All Your Charts Ready – Practice Chart and Nutrient-diet Chart
Now the real thing comes in picture – Running. It’ll be better to start your training least 3 months prior to the half-marathon. The tasks prior to start training is to build a pace chart. While starting training we mainly need to consider three things – SPEED, ENDURANCE and RECOVERY.
So the chart should consist of day wise description of how the run of the day would be – Pace details, duration of the run and what does it on work – speed , endurance or is it a rest day for recovery. The recovery day is must after 2 running days. If you are planning to add some set of exercises to help the cause, add those too to the chart.
Another most imp factor is diet. You’ll have to take carb-loaded food so as to make sure your muscle glycogens are full. Have significant amount of carbohydrates without overeating. Create a chart specifying daily intake. This will keep check on having proper nutrition.
Step 5: Pace Variations
You will need to find your own pace. If you start slow and maintain it for earlier miles, you can keep the energy reserved and make up the time in coming few. But if you run too fast at early stage you might get tired soon n may be end up walking in the end. So, practice a lot. Identify your own pace and follow it.
Step 6: Actual Half Marathon Run
Training would have identified your pace. So start slow and go ahead with the practiced pace.
Target on baby steps (next 500 meter)
Numbers scares us unnecessarily. So don’t keep watch on how much distance is remaining or how much have u covered. Just target your run in meter… “Next 500 meters” Get yourself concentrated on this. You will be surprised to learn how much in distance you have covered in meantime.
Stay calm & focus
Even if hundreds of people move ahead of you, there are thousands behind too, so concentrate on ur own run rather than looking at other participants. In fact those who gone ahead might slower their pace in a while n u might cross them as well… but rather than going into this better to concentrate on your own set target. Compete with yourself to get the BEST out of yourself. The winners too choose the same strategy.
When you cross that finish line, the experience is beyond words and something that can be never be compared with anything else. So just don’t just keep thinking about it… put your shoes on n RUN!!!!