The Preparation

Training

Taking on the challenge: Useful tips from experienced runner Jamie Rhodes and a few of his friends. Everyone has a way of preparing that works for them, but it might not always work for you.

So, instead of just passing on my thoughts, I’ve asked some my running, all of whom who have done half-marathons before, to give one tip each. Here goes, let’s hope it helps.

Before the Race

  • Get a good quality pair of running shoes. Shoes designed for runners serve two main purposes, they protect you from injury by absorbing the impact on your feet and body and they maximise forward speed by providing traction to grip the ground well. If you can afford it go to a specialist running shop you can get advice on the best running shoes for your running style. If you can’t afford that, then do plenty of research and see if you can find the right shoes for you online. You’ll often find online that last season’s shoes are cheaper than the current model. You can also pick up a bargain in general sports shops.
  • You don’t necessarily need expensive running gear, you can buy shorts, vests, T-shirts and tights from for a reasonable price. However, make sure you wear your race-day outfit a few times before the race to ensure that it isn’t uncomfortable or causing chafing. Remember that you’re not attending a party so it doesn’t matter if someone has already seen you in that outfit!!
  • Get yourself a structured training plan. Don’t think that you can wing it by doing random runs two or three times a week. You can get a good training plan from running websites like http://www.fetcheveryone.com/ and http://www.runnersworld.co.uk. A structured training plan will have a good mix of training runs and equally as important, rest periods. My own training plan has:
  • Easy runs - Usually short distances at a slow pace. The pace should be one at which you are able to carry on a conversation.
  • Tempo runs - Done at a steady effort level, usually just a little slower than your 10K race pace. Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which is critical for running faster.
  • Intervals or Speedwork – These are sets of 2 –to 5 short bursts of flat out running over a specified distance, followed by recovery runs in between. Intervals will help increase your speed.
  • Long runs - The long run is the highest mileage run of any week in your training schedule. Most runners do their long runs on Saturdays or Sundays when they have more time. Try to increase your long run distance by 10% each time, this will help you avoid injury.

Remember to try to finish your training runs pleasantly tired, there’s no point going out hard every time.

  • Try and run some shorter races before your half-marathon to get used to running with other people and to test your running gear. Most cities and towns have a parkrun http://www.parkrun.org.uk which is a free, timed 5k run which takes place every Saturday morning. Local running clubs also organise races throughout the year which are fairly cheap to enter. If you plan on entering a number of races it might be worth joining a club as membership of UK Athletics entitles you to cheaper race entry.
  • Sometimes running can be quite boring so motivating yourself to go out and pound the pavements can be difficult at times, particularly if it’s cold or wet. This can be made worse if you tend to run the same routes all the time. As long as it’s safe to do so why not change your route and get to know your area. To make my runs more interesting I play a game called Fetchpoint on the Fetcheveryone website. This involves collecting points by picking up coins and planting flowers when I run. Sounds a bit crazy? Investigate it and it’ll make more sense! You could also register on http://app.strava.com which allows you to compete against other athletes in your area by setting the best times for segments of your run.

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