In case you’re wondering if half marathon training is easy, it isn’t. In fact, it isn’t considered a training season until you’ve had some tough, humbling runs. But before you start asking yourself, “Why did I sign up for this?,” there are little things you can do along the way to improve the journey.
There are lots of ways to prepare for a half marathon, but the plan that will work best for you should line up with your goals, interests and life schedule. Your program may look a little different than your friend’s, but when it aligns with the things you enjoy, you’ll stick with it, have more fun and are more likely to succeed.
More: 7 Training Tips for Your First Half Marathon
Do you like Pilates? Blend it into your training plan twice a week to stay happy and balanced. Only have time for four days of training a week? No worries. Follow or find a program that fits your schedule. Make your own recipe to the half marathon start line, and you’ll look forward to the next workout and many more.
Mix and match.
Burn out and lack of motivation can arise from doing the same thing over and over again. Keep your program fresh by finding a new trail or running your normal route backwards. Toss in some of your favorite cross-training activities (cycling, stand-up paddle boarding, yoga, Zumba) a few times a week to work a variety of muscles, decrease the wear and tear on your body, and refresh your running spirit. A simple change of scenery can renew your motivation for the program.
More: 4 Cross-Training Activities for Runners
Invest in rest.
The difference between running for fitness and for a long-distance event is the former remains similar in terms of workouts week to week and the latter continues to progress in mileage and intensity. Rest days and cutback weeks are woven into the program to give you time to recover from the demands of training and adapt and grow stronger. Rest is to training as sleep is to life. Invest in the down time and your body will reward you with stronger performances down the road.
More: 7 Ways to Get Your Best Rest
Listen, adjust, and keep moving forward.
It is important to think of your initial training plan as a blue print that you can revise if minor detours happen along the way. Listen to your body for aches and pains or just plain fatigue. If your body is giving you a yellow flag with a few aches, take an extra day off and adjust to allow full recovery. This will make the difference in the success of your performance in the long run. If you address the aches efficiently, they will subside with a little TLC.
More: What to Do on Rest and Recovery Days