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Half-

Marathon
Training Guide
Back to Contents
© 2012 by Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.
This material is for the personal use of Rodale
customers only. For any other purpose, no part may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or any other information storage and retrieval
system, without the written permission of the publisher.
The material here is designed to help you make
informed decisions about your health. It is not intended
as a substitute for any treatment that may have been
prescribed by your doctor. If you suspect that you have
a medical problem, please seek competent medical care.
Before you undertake a new health program or fitness
regimen, we encourage you to discuss your plans with
your health care professional, especially if you have

Making the Big Time


not exercised for several years, are over 35, or are

CONTENTS
overweight.
Mention of specific companies, organizations, or
authorities does not necessarily imply endorsement
by the publisher nor does it imply endorsement of the
The half-marathon is the fastest growing distance in the sport of
information by those companies, organizations, or
3 Making the Big Time running—the number of people who’ve raced 13.1 miles has nearly
authorities.
Internet addresses and telephone numbers were
doubled in the past decade. But running 13.1 is no small task. And
accurate at the time this was posted.
4 Getting Started anyone who has done it will tell you that getting to the finish line
Because everyone is different, the advice and
isn’t the tough part—getting to the starting line is.
exercises in this publication should be used only in
5 Choose Your Race

I
conjunction with the advice of your personal health
care professional. Always consult your physician before
beginning any exercise program. 8 Set Smart Race Goals f only training were as luxurious own self-doubt makes it extremely
as the race itself. After all, at most tempting to give up. This is where you
The information here is designed to help you make
informed decisions about your health. It is not intended
10 Pick a Training Plan
as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by your
events there are aid stations with will morph into an athlete, with the
doctor. If you suspect that you have a medical problem, food and drink every few miles, gear, training logs, and war wounds that
please seek competent medical care. Though self-healing 11 Start Basic
scores of cheering spectators offer- go along with that.
is an important aspect of good health and general well-
being, it is not meant to replace medical treatment or Training
diagnosis. When illness strikes, we urge you to seek the ing encouragement, plus the camarade- In this guide, you’ll find everything
best medical assistance that you can find. rie of thousands of fellow runners. And you need to kick off your training on the
Where trade names are used, no discrimination is
20 Fuel Your Runs
intended and no endorsement by Rodale Inc. is implied.
at the end, everyone earns a medal for right foot and successfully make it to
21 The Prerun Meal his or her effort. the starting line. You’ll learn how to find
Mention of specific companies, organizations,
or authorities in this publication does not imply
endorsement by the publisher, nor does it imply
23 Eating on the Run But race preparation entails figuring a race that’s appropriate for you, pick a
endorsement of the information by those companies, out how to drive your body and mind goal that’s realistic, and determine the
organizations, or authorities. 25 Food for Recovery
further than they’ve ever gone before— best strategy to follow to accomplish that
Internet addresses and telephone numbers were
without burning out either in the goal. You’ll learn the basic principles of
accurate at the time this publication went to press.
26 Your Raceday
process. It demands pushing yourself training, find out what to wear, learn
Premium Editor: Krissa Y. Strauss Strategy
Project Manager: Sharisse Brutto
through hours on the road, often solo, what to eat before and after your race, and
Copy Editor: D. John Caruso
26 The Prerace Checklist fueled only by your own determination get a checklist to help you manage the
Designer: Susan Eugster
27 The Big Day to cover the miles for the day and the pressure on the big day.
Photo Editor: Jim Gallucci
faith that you can do it. It requires Master the techniques we give you
Photography: Thinkstock: cover; Laura 29 Running the Race
Barisonzi: p.3, p.29; p.14; Fancy/Veer: p.4; figuring out which discomforts you here and the race itself will become
Shutterstock: p.7; John Howard/Getty Images: 29 Midrace Mishaps can grit your teeth through and which a victory lap for all of the hundreds
p.20; Image Source/Getty Images: p.23
30 Eye on the Prize pains demand surrender. It involves of miles you logged, the countless
202123001 committing to the goal every day for sacrifices you made, and the physical
hundreds of days before the event, even and emotional transformation that took
when the chaos of your own life or your place along the way.

Back to Contents 3
Time it right and sign up for it as soon as possible.
Half-marathon training is very time- Most races offer early bird discounts,
consuming. At minimum, it will and if you sign up as soon as possible,
require 30 minutes to 1 hour a day dur- you won’t have to worry about getting
ing the week and up to 3 hours for long shut out if the race fills up. But there are
runs on the weekend. That’s not count- other benefits, too. Once you fork over
ing the extra time you’ll need to cool the cash for an entry fee—not cheap
down, stretch, and refuel. these days—you shift from running
Training will take even more time to training. You progress out of casual
in the 3 to 6 weeks before the race as exercise. You have a mission to accom-
the long runs and weekly mileage plish and a road map to help you do it.
peak. Compare the entire 10-week Knowing that you’ve registered for the
half-marathon plan with a schedule of race can get you out of bed on those
your family and work commitments. freezing-cold mornings when it might
Plan ahead for any conflicts; figure out be tempting to hit the snooze button.
which workouts need to be rearranged But which race to choose? It pays to be
and which parts of your usual routine picky. Here are some factors to consider.
will need to be adjusted. Make childcare
arrangements before your long runs, Plan ahead
swap your car-pool shifts, and arrange Many half-marathon plans last for
to come in an hour late to the office if 10 weeks. But if you’re just starting out,
you need to. Set these plans in motion it’s best to pick a race that is at least
before you start training. That way, as 6 months away. That way, you’ll have
the runs get longer and the race draws extra time to build up your base of fitness,
near, you won’t have the added pressure develop a consistent exercise routine,

Getting Started
of figuring out how you’ll fit it all in. and allow for any unexpected hitches,
injuries, or false starts. Also, when you
See the doctor compare your work and family calendars,
Before you jump into training, it’s important to honestly It’s best to get a checkup before you start make sure that the most intense parts of
training, especially if you’re coping training and the race itself don’t conflict
assess whether you’re ready. By taking a few critical steps with other major life events.
with injuries or you have a family his-
before you start training for a big race, you’ll save yourself tory of heart attack, diabetes, or other
a lot of time, hurt, and heartache down the road. Here’s chronic illness. If you’re over 40 or your Pick a location
what to do before you start serious training. doctor recommends it, get a stress test. Races can be a passport to adventure and
Go to the doctor right away if you expe- an excuse to see a new place that you
Build a base begin with a minimum of 4 days a week rience chest pain, pressure, shortness of haven’t been to before. On the other hand,
As long as you’ve been running at least of running and a total of about 15 miles breath, or some other abnormal feeling travel can add a whole new layer of stress
four times a week for about 6 months a week. If you haven’t been training that while exercising. to your race experience. If you’re a first-
and you’re in the habit of exercising consistently, don’t fret. You can still run timer, you might want to consider going
regularly, you should be able to com- a half-marathon in the near future. Pick Choose Your Race local. On race weekend, being able to eat
plete a half-marathon training program a date a year away, and work your way Once you decide that you’re ready to what you trained with on long runs, race
without a problem. Many training plans up to it. train for a half-marathon, pick a race on a course you’ve run on millions of

4 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents getting started 5


times, and go through the same prerun people while thousands of spectators on practice running on terrain that mim-
rituals you did during training will help the sidelines cheer you on and doing a ics the elevation change that you’ll face
you stay calm as you step to the line. Not smaller event where you might run for during the race. If you’re training for a
having to worry about getting to the air- miles without seeing another competi- half in Colorado and you live in Kansas,
port or whether you packed your shoes or tor or spectator. Some people find that you’re going to have to make some time
your favorite brand of energy gel will be a they thrive on the energy of the scream- to train in areas where you can practice
big load off your shoulders. On the other ing spectators on the sidelines and the that hillwork.
hand, seeing 13.1 miles of a new place— constant company of other runners. How Fast
and seeing it in a way that you can’t from Others find the crowds stressful; they Course cutoffs Can You Go?
a tour bus or a car—might be a welcome don’t like jostling with others at the Many races have strict time limits, but You can use the finishing time
distraction from the pressures of the race water stops, and they prefer the simplic- others have extended times and adver- of shorter races to predict your
pace for a longer distance.
itself. If you turn race weekend into a get- ity of a smaller race. tise that they are walker friendly. If
away with family and friends, it can feel you’re a walker or worry that you won’t Half-
5-K 10-K
like a vacation with a big catered run at Go with a known quantity be able to finish before the course closes, Marathon
the end! There’s nothing wrong with running a it’s a good idea to pick a race with a more 17:13 35:54 1:19
race in its inaugural year, but if this is liberal time limit. You will have enough 17:44 36:59 1:21
Consider the conditions your first time racing, you might want to think about on race day without 18:16 38:04 1:24
Make sure that you’ll be able to prepare to go with an established event. Look adding the stress of worrying whether 18:47 39:10 1:26
for the race in conditions that are similar for experienced race directors, sponsors, you’ll have to be pulled off the course 19:18 40:15 1:28
to what you’ll be racing in. A spring race and running clubs; ask people at your or whether there will be any water or 19:50 41:20 1:31
might sound nice, but it means you’re local running store for recommenda- medals left at the finish line. In most 20:21 42:25 1:33
going to be training in the snowy, icy, tions. A poorly marked course or too cases, the course time limit refers to the 20:52 43:31 1:36
dark depths of winter. If you’re training few water stops can ruin your whole amount of time that the aid stations will 21:23 44:36 1:38
for an early fall half-marathon, you’ll be day. You want the confidence of know- stay up and operating and the amount 21:55 45:41 1:40
training in the heat of summer, which ing that the aid stations are going to be of time that the roads will be closed to 22:26 46:46 1:43
means 90-degree long runs. A late fall where you’re expecting them: at least vehicle traffic. 22:57 47:52 1:45
race is ideal. You’ll start training at the every 2 to 3 miles. If you have questions, 23:29 48:57 1:48
end of July and in August, when the days e-mail the race director. Music friendly 24:31 51:08 1:52
are long and you can run early, while it’s Some races prohibit the use of head- 25:03 52:13 1:55
light. And as your runs get longer, the Choose your terrain phones, while other races brand them- 26:05 54:23 2:00
weather will get cooler and much more Check out the course map and eleva- selves as iPod friendly. If you’re used to 26:37 55:29 2:02
hospitable to those long runs. On race tion chart on the race Web site. Do you training with music and you can’t race 27:39 57:39 2:07
day, you’re likely to get perfect running want a course that’s fast and flat, even without it, make sure that the race you 28:10 58:44 2:09
conditions. if that means running through some choose allows it. Even if it does, it’s a 29:13 1:01 2:14
Most races post an “average not-so-great parts of town? Or would good idea to run with just one earbud in 29:44 1:02 2:16
temperature” for raceday on their Web you rather run through pretty scenery, or to keep the volume low enough that 30:47 1:04 2:21
sites. If they don’t, you can look it up on even if that means doing some climb- you can hear other runners approach- 31:18 1:05 2:24
a site like weatherunderground.com. ing? Your best option is a course that ing or directions from course officials. 32:32 1:07 2:28
offers some variation. A few rolling hills You don’t want to cause a collision at a 32:52 1:08 2:31
Find the right size will work different muscle groups and water stop or miss hearing another run- 33:55 1:10 2:35
There’s a big difference between racing keep you from getting bored. The most ner call out a warning about a pothole 34:26 1:11 2:38
shoulder to shoulder with 10,000 other important factor is that you’re able to or a curb. Source: runnersworld.com/trainingcalculator

6 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents getting started 7


performs on any given raceday depends

Training Runs on training, level of fitness, injury his-


tory, biomechanics, genetics, psycho-
All miles should be run at a comfortable, conversational pace unless
otherwise noted. To figure out your half-marathon and 10-K paces, logical preparation, and the weather. In
use the training calculator at runnersworld.com/tools. fact, the only common denominators
between you and any other runner are
Long, slow runs: These runs will help you build endurance. Run
at an easy, conversational pace, 1 to 2 minutes slower than your goal the distance you have to cover and the
race pace. conditions you’re running in. Compar-
ing yourself to others can cause undue
half-marathon pace: This is the pace that you hope to maintain
during the race. To figure out your half-marathon pace, you can do a stress. Your goal should be a very per-
1-mile time trial. Go to a 400-meter track or a stretch of road that’s sonal thing between you and the road.
1 mile long. After a 10-minute warmup, time yourself while running four
laps (1 mile) as fast as you can. Cool down with 10 minutes of walking Make it flexible
and jogging. Plug that time into the training calculator at runnersworld. Ten weeks is a long time to train, and
com to find out what a realistic half-marathon time and pace should be. a lot of life happens in that time. Don’t
Mile Repeats: After a 1-mile warmup, run 1 mile at your 10-K pace, be afraid to change your goals if you
then jog two laps around the track (or a half mile) for recovery. Repeat miss big chunks of training or if, say, it’s
that cycle as directed. Cool down with 1 mile of easy running. 90 degrees on race day. Go into the race
On rest or cross-training days: If you don’t take a rest day, with three acceptable outcomes. One
do moderate cross-training with a no-impact activity like yoga or might be “At least I finished.” Another
swimming. might be “A pretty good time.” And
another might be “Wow, a PR!” If you’re
particularly anxious, don’t tell people
Set Smart Race Goals Make it to the finish your goal times, as it will only amplify
Runners tend to measure success by the If you’re a first-timer, just focus on get- the stress.
minute; that can set you up for failure. ting to the starting line injury-free and
Miss your mark after all your hard train- reaching the finish feeling strong and Make training goals distance, you know that you can finish.
ing and it’s such a downer that you may healthy, having enjoyed the experi- You don’t have to wait for a finisher’s That’s where having goals that are not
end up quitting. ence enough to want to do it again. This medal to reap the rewards of your hard tied to a finishing time comes in. These
Setting multiple goals—and making sounds like an easy goal, but most peo- work. Set goals for training, like complet- targets reflect the effort you put in to
sure that at least one is not defined ple don’t realize how tough a mission ing your long runs or making it to the do your best given the circumstances.
by the clock—will guarantee a sense it is to accomplish until they reach the track every Wednesday. Write down your Make sure your performance goals are
of accomplishment come raceday, halfway point of the race. goals in your training log, and note when measurable, so you can tell if you’ve
no matter what happens. “If you set you accomplish them. On days when accomplished them. An injury-prone
a variety of goals that include some Make it personal workouts feel hard or you doubt that you runner might aim to get to the starting
you know you can achieve,” says Patti Most runners say they’re not competi- can go the full 13.1 miles, having this list line healthy; a newer runner might try
Finke, an exercise physiologist and tive and are only trying to beat their pre- of all that you’ve accomplished so far will to run the hills instead of walking them.
coach of Team Oregon, “you’ll always vious times. But the temptation to com- be evidence that you can.
be successful and hungry for the next pare ourselves to others is intense. Age- Set realistic time targets
challenge.” group rankings and finishing places Set performance goals You may be aiming for a PR, but these
Here’s a guide to setting good race only encourage that. But try to forget You can’t PR every time you race, targets require consistent training, ideal
goals. everyone else. How any one individual and once you’ve completed a certain raceday conditions, and perfect health.

8 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents getting started 9


To set an achievable time target, Here are the most important
check the chart on p. 7. This can give factors to consider before choosing a
you an idea of a realistic finish for your training plan.
goal race based on your current fitness
level. But don’t treat it as gospel— Weekly mileage
realize that the number doesn’t take How many miles per week did you
into consideration your level of stress, run on average for the past 6 weeks?
your time to train, your injury history, You don’t want to start a routine that
or a snowstorm that blows in halfway is a huge jump in mileage from what
through training. Each of these factors you’ve been doing. The first few weeks
can have a big impact on how well should be no more than 10% more
you perform in your training and on than what you’ve been doing for the
raceday. past 6 weeks.

Pick a Training Plan Days of running


The most important factor is that your Ideally, you’ll have 4 to 6 days each week
plan of choice feels doable. The first few to run. That said, it is possible to train

Start Basic
weeks should be a natural extension of for a half-marathon on 3 days of run-
the running routine that you’ve already ning a week, as long as you cross-train
been maintaining. If the plan is a good on the other days to maintain your

Training
fit, you’ll finish most workouts feeling cardiovascular fitness. Reserve at least
challenged and exhilarated—as though 1 day each week for complete rest, with
you put in a good, honest effort—but no cross-training or easy running, to
not demolished. But if the plan is too allow for full recovery. You often hear about runners who decide to run a race and
hard for your current level of fitness,
just go out and run as much as they can, as far as they can,
you’ll go home feeling frustrated and Room for other activities
possibly hurt. Each runner has a unique Obviously, the best way to train for a and as fast as they can. You do have to push beyond your
threshold for what he or she can tolerate half-marathon is to run. But strength limits when you’re preparing to run long distances, but there
without getting hurt, and that thresh- training and cross-training can help are time-tested methods of doing so that have worked for
old is determined by genetics, injury you stay injury-free and keep you feel- thousands of coaches and millions of runners—and that
history, and level of fitness. ing mentally fresh. If you want to incor- don’t involve pain and anguish.
If you’re a beginner, pick a plan that porate strength training or classes like
includes rest days and running days. That yoga or Pilates into your schedule, pick

A
plan will give you the most opportunity a plan with lower mileage, which gives good training plan follows cer- and burnout. There is as much payoff
to practice running and develop the you the flexibility to do that. tain basic principles to help a for your mind as there is for your body;
endurance you need with the least risk runner develop the endurance 10 weeks of training will help you
of injury. If you get through your first The right Plan required to run 13.1 without getting develop the mental grit and emotional
race and you enjoyed it enough to do Use a training plan that matches well injured. It will systematically ramp up toughness to gut it out on raceday. You’ll
another, then you can focus on getting with your current weekly mileage, days mileage and intensity so you gradually be more confident, knowing that you
faster by adding speed sessions and available, and cross-training needs. push yourself faster and farther than have gotten through 12-mile runs, speed
other different kinds of workouts to For help finding a specific training plan, you’ve gone before. It will follow hard sessions, and many, many days when you
your training. go to runnersworld.com/trainingplans. efforts with rest days to stave off injury would have preferred to sleep in.

10 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents start basic training 11


If you’re just starting out, Run easy most of the time the muscle tissue that’s been damaged try other variations. Fast-finish long
understanding the fundamentals of About 80% of your runs are going to be and broken down during the harder runs involve inserting a few miles at
preparation will help you stick to your done at an easy pace that’s about 60 to workouts. Through that rebuilding pro- your goal race pace during the last 3 to
plan. If you’re a seasoned runner, it’s 90 seconds slower than your goal race cess, your body gets stronger and more 5 miles of a run. This helps you practice
worth your time to brush up on these pace. The pace should feel comfort- resistant to fatigue at faster paces and digging deep when you’re most fatigued.
basics. They may help you break through able enough for you to hold a conver- longer distances. If you don’t push your Schedule one long run each week, on the
performance barriers or overcome sation while you run. If you’re using body far enough or fast enough, you’ll day when you have the most time to get
training frustrations. Follow these a heart-rate monitor, you want to be at never develop the ability to run farther it done. Choose a time when you won’t
rules of the road, and you’ll maximize 65 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. or faster without tiring. If you overload feel hampered or rushed to finish, and
your chances of reaching your goals and If you’re huffing and puffing, you’re your body too much or you don’t rest make sure you’ll have plenty of time
getting to the starting line fresh and going too fast. These miles strengthen enough, you’ll get injured. afterward to refuel, stretch, ice, and nap.
ready to run your best. muscles, build endurance, burn fat, and
increase blood volume. But the biggest Run long every week Hit the hills
Start slow and benefit is that they allow you to get the The long run is the cornerstone of half- During the first half of your training,
build gradually most practice running without getting marathon training. It helps you build you should include a day of running
The prospect of covering the race dis- injured. After about 6 weeks of training, endurance, get used to spending time on the hilliest route you can find. Hills
tance can be daunting, even for those you may find that you’re able to run the on your feet, and practice the eating, build leg and lung power, which will
who’ve done it before. Luckily, you don’t same pace and the same distance with- drinking, gear, and bathroom logistics give you the muscle and stamina you
have to do it all at once. Please don’t try. out as much effort. But try to run those you’ll need to learn for raceday. You’ll need to run faster later in the program.
The body needs time to adapt to train- same miles too fast and you’ll start to also get emotionally and mentally pre- They’ll also help prepare you for hills
ing changes and jumps in mileage or feel achy in your knees, shins, and feet. pared to spend hours at a time running, you might face in the race. You won’t
intensity. Muscles and joints need recov- That’s because your heart and lungs just as you’ll have to do when you go feel fast going up hills, but you’ll feel
ery time so they can handle more train- adapt and get stronger more quickly 13.1. Beginners should take long runs at strong. Even a small amount of hill-
ing demands. If you rush that process, than do your muscles, tendons, and an easy pace and just focus on covering work can help you build leg strength,
you could break down your body rather bones. Spend time running at an easy the distance feeling strong. These runs aerobic capacity, and running economy
than building it up. Coaches have found pace and you’ll give your musculoskel- will help you get in the miles you need (how efficiently your body uses oxy-
that the best way to avoid injury is to fol- etal system a chance to get stronger and to prepare for the race without getting gen). Running up an incline places
low the 10% rule: Increase your weekly catch up with the cardiovascular gains injured. the same demand on your muscles as
mileage and the length of your long you’ve already made. If you’re shooting for a PR, you can weight training—your glutes, quads,
run by no more than 10% each week.
It keeps you from getting injured, but Alternate between
it also makes the added mileage more hard and easy efforts This Way Up (And Down)
manageable. Before you start training, Most training programs alternate Run relaxed and maintain proper form when you’re climbing
and making descents to build your leg and lung power.
the idea of running 13 miles might be between hard and easy efforts. In each
intimidating. But after you’ve built up week of training, you’ll have a hard Going Up Going Down
to it and run 10 miles the week before, workout (like a speed session or a long • Keep your head and chest up • Keep your torso upright
the prospect of running just 3 more run) followed by a rest day or an easy • Look straight ahead • Look straight ahead
miles is not nearly as frightening. Stick run. Similarly, every few weeks you’ll • Visualize the road rising to meet you • Visualize “controlled falling”
to the plan as much as possible to stay cut back your mileage so you have time • Keep your shoulders back • Keep your nose over your toes
• Push up and off the hill, springing from your toes • Step softly; don’t let your feet slap the pavement
injury-free. If you do want to add miles, to recover. Why is that? During the
• Don’t bend at the waist and hunch over
do it on an easy day, and don’t add more recovery periods that follow hard work- • Keep your hands and fists loose
than 1 to 2 miles at a time. outs, your body rebuilds and repairs

12 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents start basic training 13


hamstrings, and calves have to lift you uphill or on flat ground. To make matters training. That way, on the day of your
up the slope. And just as with plyomet-
rics (jump drills), the “explosive” action
worse, it’s easy to hit top speed on a steep
descent—and the faster you move, the
No Track? big event, your body will just be able
to dial into it, and it will feel like your
If you can’t access a track, it’s
of uphill sprints improves elasticity in harder each foot strikes the ground and okay to do it on a flat stretch of body’s natural rhythm. The workouts
your muscles and tendons. This allows the more pounding your muscles endure. road or a treadmill. Treadmills are as good for the body as they are for
you to quickly spring into action after But by incorporating downhills into your aren’t ideal because the belt the mind. Knowing that you’ve run doz-
landing, which is helpful no matter training, you can weather them better keeps you on pace even when ens of miles at race pace will help you
what kind of terrain you’re negotiating. and bounce back from them sooner. Start your energy fades, but they do feel more confident when the starting
If you’re a beginner, ease into it. Hills do with a short, gradual slope with a 2 to 3% help you hit your target pace. gun goes off.
put extra stress on muscles, knees, and grade, and move on to steeper and longer
Achilles tendons that may not be ready descents as you get more comfortable. Run fast once a week
to handle the load. To prevent injury, start by running on less efficiently. The higher you push Even if you’re not competitive, run-
Here are rules for hitting the hills. a gentler surface, such as grass, before your lactate threshold through appro- ning faster once a week is a great way
Get some variety. Incorporate a moving onto the roads. priate training, the farther and faster to improve your fitness and your race
variety of steep short and long gradual Run an even effort, not an even you can run before tiring. times. It will also build cardiovascu-
inclines into your training. On the pace. Your pace will slow when you’re Tempo pace is typically slightly lar strength because your heart will be
short, steep climbs, you’ll feel a quick running uphill, but try to maintain the faster than half-marathon pace. forced to pump harder to deliver oxygen
cardiovascular boost. On the long, same level of effort—the same breath- Tempo runs should last for 20 to to your leg muscles. Also, your leg mus-
gradual inclines, you’ll get more endur- ing rate and leg turnover—as when 35 minutes, and your effort level cles will get stronger and more efficient
ance training. Any incline will recruit you’ve been running on flat ground. should be “comfortably hard.” How can at extracting oxygen from your blood.
different muscles than running on flat Why? If you try to charge up the hill, something be comfortable and hard at And as your legs and feet turn over at
stretches will. you’ll end up spending all your energy the same time? If you’re on a tempo run a quicker rate, you’ll shed sloppiness
Mimic the course. This is especially and be zapped by the time you get to with a training partner, you’re able to in your stride and run more efficiently.
important on long runs, which are the top. You want to have something say a few words here and there, but you Speedwork also keeps your metabolism
dress rehearsals for raceday. Look at left at the end because there are likely to can’t deliver a lengthy diatribe. revved (and calories burning) even
the course elevation map for the race, be plenty more hills where the one you If you want to try out the tempo after your workout is over. And so with
and plan your long runs so that they just climbed came from. When you’re run, here’s how: Find your tempo pace enough practice, this quicker stride
incorporate climbs at the same points running downhill, resist the urge to fly by plugging your race goal into the becomes more natural, which means
that you’ll face them during the race. down, tempting as it is. Just enjoy the training calculator at runnersworld. that it’ll take less effort to move faster
Don’t neglect the downhills. As fact that the same pace feels easier. Use com/trainingcalculator (select Training on any run. There’s a mental benefit to
fun as it can be to fly down a hill with it as a chance to catch your breath for Paces). Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes speedwork, too: By running closer to
the help of gravity’s pull, if you’ve ever whatever challenges are up ahead. of easy running, then run 2 miles at maximum pace once a week, your race-
run a downhill race, you know that tempo pace, and then cool down. Every pace and easy runs will feel truly “easy”
steep descents can zap the power you need Run at tempo pace 2 weeks, add 1/2 mile of running at by comparison. It’s best to do speedwork
to take on flat stretches and uphill climbs Tempo runs teach your body to run tempo pace until you’re running 4 miles on a flat track, where the distance is
and leave your quads feeling trashed faster before fatiguing. How? They help at that pace. Treat the tempo run as a measured.
for days afterward. Running downhill you raise your lactate threshold pace, hard workout, and follow it with a day Here are a few rules to help you get
requires the muscles to lengthen, or the speed you’re able to maintain before of rest or easy running. around the track.
make eccentric muscle contractions. lactic acid begins accumulating in your Stick with runners of the same
These contractions can cause microscopic leg muscles more rapidly than they can Run at race pace fitness level. If you start with faster
tears in the muscle fibers and generate recycle it into usable fuel. When this It’s important to get as much practice as runners and fall behind, you won’t have
more force than when you’re running happens, your muscles begin to perform possible running your race pace during time to recover before the next repeat.

14 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents start basic training 15


Measure Your Effort
Here’s a guide to using different methods to measure your effort
during different kinds of workouts. Even when you’re training for a
half-marathon, a 5-K is a good reference pace because it’s the most
popular race distance. Also, keep in mind that it’s best to use just one
variable to measure your effort because trying to keep track of all of
them at once might only confuse you.

Type of Run Pace Heart Rate Talk Test


90–150 seconds/mile 65–70% of max
Easy Run Complete sentences
slower than 5-K pace heart rate
Half-Marathon- 25–50 seconds/mile slower 92–94% of max
A few words at a time
Pace Run than 5-K pace heart rate
Speedwork 5–15 seconds/mile faster 98–100% of max
Can’t.Talk.Must.Run.
(800s, 1200s) than 5-K pace heart rate
20–40 seconds/mile slower 94–96% of max
Tempo Run A few words at a time
than 5-K pace heart rate
90–150 seconds/mile 65–70% of max
Long Run Complete sentences
slower than 5-K pace heart rate

Leave the headphones at home. mileage by 25 to 50%, but keep the


When you’re in a large group of fatigued intensity of the workouts high. The idea
runners in a confined space trying to is to let your muscles recover from the
hit top speed, you’ll want to tune in to buildup of mileage and intensity and
what’s going on around you. adapt to the stresses of training so that
Recover right. When you finish, you get to raceday feeling fresh and
walk or jog a bit. Gradually slowing your ready to run your best. But don’t put
heart rate is healthier than suddenly your feet up just yet. The idea is to rest,
hitting the brakes. not rust. You’re running fewer miles,
Clear lane one. The innermost lane but keep doing workouts like race-pace
of the track is typically the place for the runs and speedwork.
fastest runners. If you’re warming up, Don’t be surprised if you go a little has a goal—to build endurance, make the talk test have all been proven to be
cooling down, or running slower, move nutty during the taper. Most runners you faster, or help you recover. It’s effective. Choose which measure you
to an outside lane. fret that they’ll lose the fitness they important to measure your effort while want to use, and stick with it. Use the
Lighten up. You don’t need track worked so hard to build and, as a result, you’re training to make sure that you’re chart at left as a guide.
spikes, but it’s a good idea to wear they keep their mileage too high. working out at the right intensity and Pace. When you’re doing speedwork
running shoes that weigh 10 ounces or But resist the urge, or you could end reaping the benefit. Go too hard on the on a measured stretch of road or a track,
less. Just knowing you’ve got your “fast up reaching the starting line feeling easy runs and you won’t have the energy it’s a good opportunity to let your watch
shoes” on will give you a lift. mentally and physically fried. to take on the speed sessions and long do all the work and run strictly based
runs. Go too slow on your hard runs on how many minutes it takes you to
Taper off Measure your effort and you won’t push your fitness to the run each mile. At Runner’s World, we
During the final weeks leading up to Training for a half-marathon is all about next level. There are a variety of ways to like to discuss training paces relative
the half-marathon, drop your weekly running with purpose. Each workout gauge your effort; pace, heart rate, and to 5-K pace (simply because the 5-K is

16 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents start basic training 17


the most popular race distance around). breathing rates that were within their when you start to feel fatigued. Tense If the count is below 80 for each foot,
If you don’t know your 5-K pace, you target aerobic zones. The converse was shoulders steal energy you need to run. practice shortening your stride. With
can either go run a 5-K (check out also true: Those who were huffing and If you start to tighten up, shake out your practice, this will feel more natural.
runnersworld.com/racefinder to scout out puffing their way through the recitation hands and arms to release the tension.
an event near you) or do a 1-mile time were generally running too hard. Run tall. Keep your back straight, Warmup and cooldown
trial and plug that time into a training at a 90-degree angle to the ground. It’s hard enough to get in your prescribed
calculator (like the one at runnersworld. Be sure to cross-train Don’t lean forward, except when you’re miles for the day, so it’s often tempting to
com/trainingcalculator). Based on that Running is hard on your body—it’s easy running uphill, as this position can skip the warmup and cooldown. But tak-
pace, the calculator will tell you which for the muscles, joints, and connective lead to lower-back pain and make you ing the time to ease in and out of a run
paces to use for which workouts. tissues to wear down from all the shock fatigue faster. can make the running feel easier and
Heart rate. Tracking your heart rate absorption. Cross-training is a great way Swing your arms. Hold your lower help you avoid injury. A 5- to 10-minute
with a monitor (which reads your pulse to maintain your cardiovascular fitness arms at about a 90-degree angle to your warmup will gradually raise your heart
via a sensor built into a chest strap) tells while giving your body a break from body, about level with your belly. Let and breathing rates, get blood flow-
you precisely how hard—or easy— the pounding of running. Activities your arms swing in rhythm with your ing to your muscles, and prepare them
you’re working. A heart-rate monitor will like yoga, Pilates, and strength train- legs. Make sure to swing them forward for the work ahead. Inserting strides
track how many beats per minute your ing can help build muscle and promote and back, not across your body. at the end of the warmup wakes up your
heart is taking so that you can make sure recovery. Swimming, cycling, ellipti- Loosen your grip. Keep your hands nervous system and gets the fast-twitch
that you’re working within a particular cal training, and rowing will burn a lot in unclenched fists, with your fingers muscle fibers firing. Ending a run with a
percentage of your maximum heart rate of calories and improve your aerobic lightly touching your palms. Imagine 10-minute cooldown of easy running
during every workout. For instance, you’ll fitness. They also help you develop a yourself trying to carry a piece of paper in allows your heart rate to fall gradually.
want to make sure that you’re running strong upper body, which can help you each hand without crushing it. This will Stop abruptly after a hard run and the
within 65 to 70% of your maximum heart run faster with less effort and maintain release the tension in your upper body. blood can pool in your legs, making you
rate on easy days so that your body has a good form in the late stages of a race, Plant your feet. Your foot should feel faint.
chance to recover from hard workouts. when you’re fatigued. hit the ground lightly with each step— The kind of warmup you do depends
How do you find out your maximum landing between your heel and midfoot— largely on what kind of workout you’re
heart rate? Most experts agree that a Watch your form and then quickly roll forward. Keep your doing that day. In general, the faster
widely used formula—220 minus your When you’re just starting to run, don’t ankle flexed as your foot rolls forward or farther you intend to go, the longer
age—may be inaccurate for many women. worry too much about your form; your to create more force for push-off. As you and more thoroughly you should warm
In 2010, researchers at Northwestern body will naturally gravitate toward its roll onto your toes, try to spring off the up. For an easy run of, say, 4 miles, you
University found that a better formula most efficient way of running. You have ground. might just walk for a few minutes to
for women ages 35 and older is 208 minus natural biomechanics that are deter- Maintain a short stride. Your feet loosen up your muscles and joints, then
88% of your age. mined by your strength and flexibility should land directly underneath your start slowly jogging before gradually
The talk test. This is one of the most and the structure of your body. That body. If your lower leg (below the knee) ramping up to your target pace. If you’re
widely used methods of determining said, there are a few basics that will help extends out in front of your body, you’re sore or tired, it may take longer to get
whether you’re running at the you run more comfortably. overstriding; this can lead to injuries the kinks out.
appropriate level of effort. Informal as Look ahead. Keep your gaze straight and slow you down. With a shorter If you’re hitting the track, a longer
it sounds, research has shown that it’s in front of you, not down at your feet. stride, you’ll land softer and with less warmup of 1 to 2 miles will make it
an accurate predictor of intensity. In This keeps your neck and head in proper impact. To shorten your stride, work easier to hit your target paces and avoid
studies where subjects were asked to alignment. on increasing your stride rate (how injury. You might also include dynamic
recite the Pledge of Allegiance while Drop your shoulders. Keep your frequently you take each step). Check stretching in the form of drills, like
running on treadmills, those who could shoulders low and loose, and don’t let your watch and count each time your skipping and high knees, or by doing
comfortably do so also had heart and them creep up to your ears, especially foot strikes the ground during a minute. strides.

18 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents start basic training 19


Road Rules
In order to avoid common pitfalls associated with fueling on the go, follow
these rules of the road.
Practice, practice, practice. Train your gut during long runs so
that it’s accustomed to receiving foods and fluids while on the go.
Watch what you eat. Look at the nutrition content of each gel,
chew, or other fuel source you’re using. Follow the instructions to
determine how much water to consume with each source.
Chase it with water. Always chase gels, chews, or blocks with
water. Try to wash them down with a sports drink and you’ll end up
taking unwanted bathroom stops or feeling nauseated.
Carry it on. Find a lightweight, comfortable waist pack or fuel belt to
easily carry your sport beans, gels, or chews. Some running shorts also
include pockets designed to carry gels and chews. If you don’t have gear,
try fastening the packages to your shorts with safety pins.
Pack your own. When your hands are slippery, packages can be tricky
to open on the go. Try taking your gels or chews out of their original
packaging and putting them in a snack-size zipper-lock bag for your long
run or race.
Take it slow. Eat your gels, beans, or chews slowly. Trying to gulp
down all of the fuel in one quick bite could cause you to choke or feel sick
to your stomach.

Fuel Your Runs


When it comes to eating, timing is everything. Go out on an empty
to eat. Then it’s up to you to figure out
your own plan.
on empty and you’ll fatigue sooner, plus
you’ll have a much tougher time hitting
your pace targets.
stomach and you could end up crashing and burning. Neglect to The Prerun Meal For high-intensity workouts, like
refuel after a 20-miler and you risk ruining your next run. What you eat before you hit the road all speedwork or tempo runs, prerun fuel
depends on when you’re running and is especially important. That’s because

I
t’s important to strike a balance says Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, what kind of workout you’re planning. you’re burning through carbs faster
between getting enough fuel to director of sports medicine nutrition and Many people don’t have the time—or than when you’re ambling along at an
stay energized and not eating so performance at the University of Miami. the stomach—to eat and digest food easy pace. Have a high-carb meal 2 to
much that you end up nauseous and “Even the best runners in the world have before a run, especially in the early 3 hours before you run, or have a small
cramped—or worse. Get the balance cramped up because of doing the wrong morning. For an easy-paced run of high-carb snack or drink about 30 min-
wrong and all the hard work you did thing the day before.” 60 minutes or less, going without food utes beforehand. (An energy gel or chew
developing your legs and lungs could be In this section, you’ll learn everything or drink probably won’t do you any will do in a pinch.)
for naught. you need to know about fueling before harm. (Just make sure you’re staying If you’re running 12 miles or more,
“Ninety-nine percent of how well you do you go, while you’re on the road, and hydrated; see “The Sweat Test” on p. 23.) you want to start fueling and hydrating
on raceday will have to do with what you after you’re done. We’ll offer you the tools But for any run that’s longer or more the day before. You don’t necessarily
ate or drank or didn’t leading up to the race,” to figure out what, how much, and when intense, prerun fuel is critical. Go out need to increase your calories—just

20 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents fuel your runs 21


Prerun Meal Ideas
These high-carb, low-fat, low-fiber prerun meals will give you the The Sweat Test
energy you need to run your best. Mix and match any of these foods to The amount you need to drink will vary widely depending on your fitness
suit your tastes. level, the weather, and how much you sweat. When you’re rehydrated,
your urine will be the color of lemonade. If it’s darker—say, the color of
Nutritional
Meal Health Benefits apple juice—or you haven’t gone for a few hours, drink more.
Info
Use these guidelines to estimate how much fluid you need. Redo
The peach offers carbs for fuel, plus the test during different seasons, with different workouts, in different
6 oz low-fat fruit 231 calories; potassium and antioxidants to boost immune
yogurt; 1 medium weather conditions, and as your fitness changes.
peach 46 g carbs function. The yogurt offers calcium and
1. Weigh yourself without clothes right before a run.
vitamin D to keep bones healthy.
2. Run at race pace for 1 hour, keeping track of how much you drink
during the run.
2 oz pretzels The pretzels offer simple carbs, plus sodium
263 calories; 3. After the run, strip down, towel off any sweat, and weigh yourself
(40 small); to help you stay hydrated. The hummus
2 Tbsp hummus 49 g carbs nude again.
adds iron and a little protein.
4. Subtract your postrun weight from your prerun weight and convert
it to ounces (1 pound = 16 ounces).
Whole grain waffles offer slow carbs for
2 whole grain waffles 294 calories; long-lasting energy, while maple syrup adds 5. Add to that number however many ounces of liquid you consumed
(frozen); 2 Tbsp
maple syrup 56 g carbs some fast carbs, plus B vitamins that help on your run. (For example, if you lost 1 pound and drank 16 ounces during
with cell growth and metabolism. your run, your total fluid loss is 32 ounces, and you’ll need to drink 32
ounces of water and electrolytes to remain hydrated on similar runs.)
The whole grain bread offers slow carbs
PB&B sandwich:
1 medium banana, for energy, and the banana adds B vitamins
337 calories;
2 slices whole grain and potassium to help with muscle contraction.
bread, 1 Tbsp peanut 53 g carbs make sure that carbs make up the bulk sports drinks, and your body’s own gly-
Peanut butter adds protein and healthy fats,
butter of lunch and dinner. Your body will cogen stores. Any longer, your muscles
plus niacin, which aids in recovery.
absorb and store the nutrients, and will run out of fuel and your body—not
Fluids with electrolytes help you stay you’ll be able to rely on those fuel stores to mention your attitude—will start
125 calories;
16 oz sports drink hydrated and provide plenty of energy during the next day’s run. Have your to drag. Consuming carbs midrun can
28–30 g carbs
if you can’t stomach solid foods. main meal at midday and a smaller keep your blood sugar steady so you
meal for dinner so that you have plenty don’t crash and burn.
of time to digest before you go to sleep. The key is to fuel at regular intervals
2 oz honey whole The easy-to-digest pretzels provide B vitamins
wheat pretzels 320 calories; The morning of your long run, start and before you need to. If you wait until
like thiamine, while the peanut butter provides
dipped in 1 Tbsp 49 g carbs fueling 2 to 3 hours before. The bigger the you’re out of gas, you won’t be able to
natural peanut butter long-lasting energy and heart-healthy fats.
prerun meal, the more time you’ll need to bounce back and finish the run feeling
digest it. After a 200- to 300-calorie meal, strong.
1 cup apple cinnamon The cereal offers carbs, plus it’s fortified
you could be ready to hit the road in 30 to Experiment with different brands
O’s topped with 255 calories; with vitamins and minerals. The milk offers
1 cup skim milk and 55 g carbs calcium and vitamin D, while the banana 60 minutes. Any more calories and you’ll and flavors of energy gels and sports
1 medium banana adds B vitamins and potassium. want to wait 60 to 90 minutes before you drinks, and find out what sits well in
start your run. your stomach. Each brand has its own
Whole grain bread provides long-lasting energy. proprietary blend of sugars and other
Turkey sandwich on 420 calories; The apple provides more energy,
100% whole grain Eating on the Run ingredients. You may respond better to
bread; 1 apple 72 g carbs plus fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants
When you’re on the road for less than one than another, and you may prefer
to help reduce cell damage.
75 minutes, you can rely on water, certain flavors or textures.

22 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents fuel your runs 23


Postrun Meal Ideas Food for Recovery
After a run, it’s important to refuel fast—within 30 minutes—to restock Smoothie after What you do in the half hour following
a long run or a hard workout can
your glycogen stores and jumpstart muscle repair. These snacks meet
your needs for carb and protein replenishment, and most have the 4:1 an Easy Run determine the quality of your next run
carbs-to-protein ratio you’re looking for. Plus, they’re packed with Your body doesn’t need a ton of and whether or not you can stay injury-
vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy throughout your training. nutrients to recover from an easy free throughout training.
run. That’s why this smoothie The 30 to 60 minutes after your
Nutritional
Snack Info Health Benefits uses almond milk—it has nearly
run is prime time for recovery. That’s
half the calories of low-fat milk.
8 oz low-fat chocolate 225 calories; Fresh fruit and milk help you rehydrate when your body is ready to restock
Spinach, which has just 7 calories
milk; 1 serving fresh 40 g carbs; while providing calcium, vitamin D, glycogen stores and start repairing
fruit per cup, is one of the richest
9 g protein and other vitamins and minerals. muscle tissue so you can bounce back
plant sources of iron, a mineral
1 oz pretzels dipped 275 calories; that helps transport oxygen to for your next run.
Pretzels offer carbs, plus sodium to help replenish
in 6 oz low-carb 50 g carbs; your muscles. Kiwis are high Refueling is most important if
(protein-rich) yogurt electrolytes. Yogurt adds calcium and vitamin D.
12 g protein
in vitamin C, which increases you’re out for an intense effort—such
Turkey sandwich: iron absorption. Frozen, creamy as an interval session, a tempo run, or a
2 slices whole grain 310 calories;
Higher in protein, this is your best choice following banana chills the smoothie long run of 1 hour or more—that taxes
bread, 4 thin slices 55 g carbs;
deli turkey, extra a tough workout or during a high-mileage week. and offsets the slightly bitter
17 g protein your muscles and drains your muscle
veggies greens. This recipe is by sports glycogen stores. For a 30-minute easy
380 calories; The banana offers potassium to help with muscle nutritionist Cassie Dimmick, RD.
1 medium banana run at less than 60% of maximum
spread with 2 Tbsp 55 g carbs; contraction, while the peanut butter adds healthy heart rate, refueling isn’t going to be as
peanut butter
1
/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
12 g protein fats, plus niacin, which helps recovery.
1 cup fresh spinach critical. Even so, eat right away, just to
This snack is low in saturated fat and high in fiber. get into the habit of tying your meals to
1 whole egg (cooked in Blueberries contain antioxidants that help 1 kiwifruit, sliced
a nonstic k skillet) on your workouts.
a toasted whole wheat 400 calories; with muscle soreness, and the yogurt adds 1
/2 banana How many carbs do you need for
English muffin; 67 g carbs; calcium and vitamin D to keep bones healthy. (preferably frozen), sliced
1 1/4 cups fresh recovery? Divide your weight in half
20 g protein The egg provides protein, B vitamins, and choline,
blueberries; DPlace the milk, spinach, kiwi, and and eat that many grams of carbs.
all of which keep your immune system strong
6 oz low-fat yogurt
and your muscles ready for action. banana in a blender and blend until (A 120-pound runner would aim for
Smoothie: smooth. 60 grams.) Make sure your meal has a
This meal is easy on the stomach if you can’t
6 oz low-fat vanilla Makes 1 serving carbs-to-protein ratio of 4:1. Don’t stress
yogurt, 2 Tbsp 415 calories; tolerate solids after a hard workout. Yogurt
peanut butter, 66 g carbs; provides calcium and protein, while peanut butter Per serving: 128 calories, 28 g carbs, about hitting the exact ratio; just make
1 medium banana, 13 g protein offers healthy fats and niacin. The chocolate 6 g fiber, 2 g protein, 2 g fat sure you’re getting both carbs and
2 Tbsp fat-free syrup adds carbs and a sweet taste! protein. Then try to eat that same balance
chocolate syrup
2 whole grain of carbs and protein 2 hours later.
Whole grains and fruit replenish your carbs and
pancakes topped
with 1/2 cup canned offer antioxidants. Tea provides antioxidants and
330 calories;
fruit (drained); phytochemicals, which can help prevent the months
65 g carbs;
12 oz English tea of heavy training from wearing you down. Milk
mixed with 1/2 cup 13 g protein
provides calcium, and honey boosts energy and
skim milk and 1 Tbsp
honey offers other immune-boosting phytochemicals.

Popcorn provides carbs, fiber, and iron,


3 cups air-popped 280 calories;
and any salt you add will help you rehydrate.
popcorn; 8 oz low-fat 46 g carbs;
chocolate milk Milk provides calcium and carbs. And together
11 g protein
they can satisfy a sweet-and-salty craving.

24 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents fuel your runs 25


got a solid 8 hours of sleep. Here’s what
[ Training Tip ] to do when the alarm goes off.

Wear less Take a hot shower


Don’t wear things that will
A shower helps wake you up for an early
slow you down. That means no
headphones, no iPhone, no long- start time, and it passively warms your
sleeved shirt around your waist, muscles.
and no heavy shoes.
Stick to a routine
Go through the fueling, hydration, and
is getting to the front and realizing that bathroom routines that have worked for
there’s nothing to wipe with. you during training. Don’t do anything
Reading material If you have a new that could jeopardize all your hard
long wait before the race, pack some work.

Your Raceday
magazines or a book to keep your mind
occupied. This can keep you from Plan your fuel
obsessing about the race. Have a high-carb, moderate-protein, low-

Strategy
Extra race fuel and drink Sometimes fiber meal 2 hours before the start. Have
energy gels can slip out of your hands, or toast with a little natural peanut but-
your favorite flavor of sports beans will ter, for example, and half a banana, or a
Even for seasoned racers, a half-marathon can be stressful. fall out of your fuel belt. So bring extras smoothie containing fruit and yogurt.
Use the following tips to help you get through the race just in case, plus the water and sports
drink that you prefer. Arrive early
feeling calm, healthy, and prepared for whatever unexpected
A change of clothing After the race, Get to the race at least 1 hour before the
event may come your way. you’ll cool down and chill quickly. Best starting time, so you have plenty of time
to have something warm and dry to to pick up your number (if you don’t
The prerace Checklist
With all the hope and hard work that [Training Tip] change into.
Postrace refueling There are always
already have it), use the porta potty, and
warm up. You don’t want to be running to
you’ve invested in your goal event, you
want to arrive at the starting line feel-
Drop 5 snacks at the finish line, but what the race the starting line.
A 5-pound weight loss can take provides may not sit well with you. For
ing calm, healthy, and ready to run your more than 2 minutes off your half-
best. Here are some things you can do to marathon time. Plus, weight loss
maximum recovery, choose something
with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. This
[Training Tip]
stay on track in the critical hours before
the starting gun fires.
can reduce your injury risk and
improve your biomechanics.
will help restock your spent glycogen Sleep more
stores and repair broken-down muscle Research from Stanford
tissue. You might try a sports recovery University indicates that athletes
Pack up the night before number, bib number, and e-mail address who get more sleep during
drink, energy bar, or other packaged food
At many big races, you’ll have the option clearly on the outside of the bag. training have better reaction time
that won’t spoil, spill, or get ruined in
of taking a bag to the start and checking it Trash bag A heavy-duty trash bag can and speed. Even if you can’t get
transit. 10 hours of sleep like the study
to pick up at the finish line. It’s best not to provide a nice seat so you don’t have to plop
put anything in the bag that you can’t live down on wet grass. If it’s raining at the start, subjects, the researchers say that
without. Here’s what you should consider you can use the trash bag as a raincoat.
The Big Day just a 20-minute nap can help
Last night you laid out your gear and performance.
packing. Extra tissue The only thing worse
reviewed your race strategy. Then you
ID Put your name, address, cell phone than waiting in a long porta potty line

26 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents Your Raceday strategy 27


your legs for 90 seconds. Then stride delay. Just because a start time is pushed blaring, adrenaline is flowing; you feel
[ Training Tip ] back in the opposite direction. back at the last minute doesn’t give you like you want to charge out of the start

Drink caffeine Stay loose and


permission to not seek excellence. like they just released you from prison.
And it’s unnerving when it feels like
Not only is caffeine credited with
think positive CALM Prerace anxiety everyone is passing you. Ignore every-
improved alertness and increased
focus, research suggests it can As you wait for the start, shake out your Picture yourself racing and finishing one else. Stick to your own race plan.
improve pain tolerance and help arms and legs. Review your race plan, strong. Take stock of the miles you’ve All those people who passed you? You’ll
you fatigue less quickly. To get the and reflect on a “highlight reel” of all the covered leading up to this day. To rein- pass them late in the race.
most out of caffeine, down a cup great training runs you’ve logged. And force it, repeat a mantra like “I’m ready.
of plain tea or coffee (not a latte) wait for the starting gun to go off. I’m prepared.” Listen to your body
30 to 60 minutes before a race or Music players and training watches can
hard workout. Expect the unexpected running the race be great, but in a race, you really want
Sometimes the start of a race is delayed. Here’s how to pace yourself when the to tune in to how you’re feeling—how
Limit the sips For a delay of less than 30 minutes, keep gun goes off. easy or labored your breathing is, how
Yes, you need to stay hydrated, but no moving. If space is tight, run in place for tired your muscles feel. With a training
major drinking 30 minutes before the a moment or jump up and down. Shake Start slow, finish strong watch, it’s way too easy to start stressing
gun; sip if your mouth is dry or it’s par- your legs out to keep the blood moving. Don’t go out too fast! Too many runners about your splits at each mile. Remem-
ticularly hot out. Some athletes will take For a delay of an hour or longer, your make the mistake of running as fast as ber that it’s the finishing time that
a mouthful and use it as a rinse and spit. best bet is to sit down and start your they can out of the gates and then fad- counts. The individual splits along the
Hydration is something that needs to be prerace warmup from scratch at the ing out miles before the finish line. Start way don’t mean a thing.
considered on an ongoing basis; the days appointed time. a little slower than you’d like, and let
and weeks before the race are just as, if not The biggest challenge in a standstill people around you pass you. As you get Take the hills at an even
more, important. Be sure you’re drinking affair is mental. Stay calm and take a deep into rhythm and gain speed, you’ll pass effort
enough throughout the day, every day, not breath. Don’t waste adrenaline by getting many of them in the final miles of the Your pace is going to slow uphill and
trying to cram on raceday. angry at the race officials. Listen to music race. accelerate downhill; try to maintain
on your iPod. Remember, raceday is the same level of effort both ways. If you
Warm up made up of a host of variables out of your Go negative kill yourself to stay on pace on the way
A proper warmup increases heart rate, control, including the occasional race Aim for a negative split—that is, run- up and then let yourself free-fall on the
breathing rate, and bloodflow to the ning the second half of the race faster way down, you’ll zap the strength you’ll
muscles; skip it and you risk poor per- than the first half. Head out 10 to 15 need later in the race.
formance and injury. Before the start [Training Tip] seconds per mile slower than goal pace,
Midrace mishaps
Limit the junk
of your half-marathon, walk or jog for and take walk breaks early on. Even
10 minutes. though you’re doing a half-marathon, Here’s how to conquer race-day disasters
Finish with four to six 100-meter Sugar can actually trigger hunger, you should be running so easy that you before they strike.
which can lead to weight gain.
strides, which will get the fast-twitch feel like you could go the whole 26.2. In
Plus, you’ll get more out of your
muscle fibers firing and improve a full marathon, you should be running Muscle cramp
mileage with long-lasting staples
neuromuscular coordination. Gradually like whole grain rice and pasta than easy enough that you feel like you could Stop running and apply pressure to the
accelerate to about 85% of max speed for with sugary foods that can cause run 150 miles at that same pace. muscle. Press firmly for 15 seconds—
the first third of the stride. Hold that sluggishness—not what you want don’t massage. Then gently stretch the
pace for another third, then gradually if you’re pushing for speed. Stay in your own zone muscle. Repeat the pressure/stretch
decelerate over the final third. After At a race it’s easy to get amped up in cycle until the cramp subsides. Walk at
each stride, walk around and shake out the excitement of the day. The music is first, then slowly increase your pace.

28 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents Your Raceday strategy 29


Blister than coming to a complete stop. Start You still have so far to go You feel discouraged
In a short run or race, you can keep back up slowly; don’t resume your prior Break it down. Anticipate that you’re Have images that are personal and easy
going. But in a half-marathon, it’s best pace right away. going to hit this tough mental stretch to conjure up and that elicit positive
to deal with a blister before it becomes two-thirds through the race, and pre- emotions. Replay the “highlight reel” of
painful enough to throw off your gait. Eye on the Prize pare for it. Make sure you’re fueling the greatest moments of your running
Covering it with a Band-Aid or moleskin Having negative thoughts? These sim- enough that you keep your energy levels career—your last PR, the first time you
is ideal. But if an aid station or home is ple strategies will help you be your own stable and even. And break the race into ran 10 miles, and how you feel when
miles away, try adjusting your laces cheering section. segments, taking it 1 mile or 1 kilometer your training is clicking along.
instead. Tightening them could stop at a time.
heel slippage (a common cause of blis- You want to slow down The personal best you had
ters); loosening them could take pres- Keep a focused, attacking mindset, so You are tired and your heart on slips away
sure off a hot spot. you’re gliding strong with effort and want to slow down Stay flexible with multiple goals—at
you don’t drop into a comfort zone. Keep When you start to think, “I’m tired,” least three goals for the race. Have an A
Side stitch in mind that the fatigue you feel is fleet- remember that everyone around you is goal for your banner day—if the weather
Notice which foot is striking the ground ing, compared with the hours of train- hurting more than you are. Have a man- is perfect and you got plenty of sleep the
when you inhale and exhale. Then ing you’ve put in. tra to sync with each footfall to keep night before. Make sure that this goal is
switch the pattern. So if you were lead- yourself going. Try “This is my time” or based on a realistic assessment of your
ing with your right foot, inhale when You aren’t as fast “The longer I go, the stronger I get.” training and fitness. Set a B goal that
the left foot steps. If that doesn’t help, as some others will leave you feeling like you gave it all
stop running and reach both arms You might be measuring yourself You want to quit you had. Finally, set a “process” goal—
above your head. Bend at the waist, lean- against a faster running buddy, a ran- Remember why you run. Knowing that one that isn’t attached to the time on the
ing to the side opposite the stitch. dom runner, or everyone in your age you’ve lost weight, adopted a healthy finish line clock. You might have a goal
group. Ultimately, you can only control lifestyle, found a whole new group of of fueling on schedule every hour. Or
Ankle turn your own performance. But remember friends through running, or are raising you might have a goal of running even
If you suffered a minor sprain, your first that you have a better chance of doing money for charity can help you stay pos- splits—running each mile at about the
few steps will be painful. But once the well because that other person will itive through the tough patches. same pace.
ankle loosens up, you’ll be able to run motivate you to get faster than you
on it and get back in the race with ease. would going solo.
Stop if your pain is more severe with
each step—that’s a sign of a fracture. Everything hurts
Focusing on your form can help distract
Stumble and fall you from your discomfort. Run tall and
Get up and assess yourself. Road rash or relax your shoulders. Give yourself a
minor scrapes can be patched up later. pep talk. Regardless of how you feel, tell
(Heavy bleeding needs immediate treat- yourself, “I’m going to sprint as fast as
ment.) Running might feel difficult at I possibly can. I’m going to get the best
first because your heart rate will be ele- time I possibly can.”
vated and you’ll be shaken up.
People keep passing you
Stiffness after a pit stop Draw strength from the spectators.
Keep your breaks brief—2 minutes at Soak in the roar of the crowd. Let them
most. Walk while taking water rather fuel you to a peak performance.

30 half-marathon training guide Back to Contents Your Raceday strategy 31


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