Have you ever thought about running a half-marathon as one of your New Year’s challenges, or have you ever thought about it but don’t know how to start or how to prepare from scratch? Well, you are on the right page right now, because from here we are going to give you the keys to get in shape and fulfill this dream.
What is a half-marathon?
It is a race that takes place on asphalt and whose distance is 21,097 metres, that is, just half the distance of a marathon. It is not an Olympic modality. And it’s common for many cities around the world to organise their own, which always attracts hundreds or even thousands of people who love sport.
The equipment is limited to clothes and shoes that are comfortable and do not make you scratch for their material. You need to be properly prepared beforehand.
How do you start preparing for a half-marathon from scratch?
If you are not in the habit of running, you can start now to adapt your body to this sport, little by little. At first, experts recommend running about 3 times a week, for 30 to 45 minutes each time at the beginning, until you feel strong enough to gradually increase your pace.
As the days go by and you feel your body adapting, you should increase the speed or time of your sessions.
As a complement to this, it is recommended that you strengthen your muscles by doing sit-ups, squats, presses and push-ups. It is very important that your muscles are also strong so that they have more resistance. You can combine the exercises and dedicate three days to ‘running’ and another two to developing your muscles. Bodybuilding sessions should be between 45 minutes and one hour at a time, to have more resistance and to avoid damaging your muscles with the effort of the kilometres you must accumulate throughout the week to be ready for the half-marathon.
A gradual preparation
He always thinks that each person is a world and will need his own preparation time. If your body is used to playing sports on a regular basis, 16 weeks of constant training could serve as preparation for a half-marathon. But if that’s not the case, you may need even double that. Listen to your body, strive for improvement (it doesn’t just require a strong physique, it also requires a strong mind), even if you don’t push your body to a limit that could lead to injury.
There are no great secrets to achieve this challenge that you have ahead of you: only effort, constancy in training and a lot of desire. If you find that you are not able to keep to your schedule on your own, you can always look for a group of people who are preparing a half-marathon or who are simply training daily to stay in shape.
Don’t look for excuses
Another popular option is to buy a treadmill and have it at home. If the weather outside is too cold or there is too much sun, staying inside is a great alternative, provided you have the right equipment. It also allows you more flexibility in your schedule because you may not like to run at night. And the great thing about these machines is that they monitor all your activity very accurately: kilometres run, time, distance per minute, calories lost and they can even monitor your heart rate to see if your heart is responding correctly to the effort.
There are those who advise that before launching yourself into the more than 20 kilometers of the half-marathon, you should set yourself a challenge by running some 10 kilometers, also very common in cities, even more popular. And, after achieving this, your body will be ready to keep increasing the pace and you will probably have motivation to continue accumulating new sports achievements.
Besides training, what is important to prepare for a half-marathon?
There are other issues that, if you don’t do sport often, you will have to learn, such as breathing, feeding and hydration. Here are some tips:
- Breathing. You must learn to breathe correctly, because you need it to accompany you during your sporting efforts. It is better to inhale through the mouth, because when running the oxygen needed is much higher. But if you find it more comfortable to breathe in through your nose, you can do so too. What is essential is to measure the times. Some people advise you to inhale in two beats or two strides and the same to expel the air.
- Nutrition. For your body to be ready, you must help yourself by eating well. Eliminate alcohol (also avoid tobacco) and soft drinks from your diet and eat only healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts or avocado. Reduce your consumption of processed meat and focus on fish and lean meats. Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates that give you the energy your body needs when it is active and eat vegetables.
- Hydration. Your allies will be water and isotonic drinks. When you go for a run you should drink little by little to keep your body hydrated. Don’t drink too much liquid beforehand because it can make you flabby.
How do you know when your body is ready to run a half-marathon?
It is not recommended to go for a half-marathon without first having managed to run a good amount of kilometers weekly and for a while. You could strain your body too much or become frustrated if you don’t meet this challenge, when in fact, you just need more physical preparation.
It is recommended that when you go for your first half-marathon, you should have run 60 kilometres a week for several weeks. That is to say, do not look at the result of each session, but at the whole week. And the common thing is to manage to run the 20+ kilometres of the race in less than two hours: that is, about 5 minutes for each kilometre.