Whether you are a novice runner or a veteran, stepping up to the half marathon distance requires discipline and planning. Most half marathon training programs are 12 to 16 weeks in length and call for at least four days of running each week.
This is a considerable commitment, with long runs approaching two or more hours toward the end of the training cycle. Clearly, training for a half is something that should be entered into thoughtfully.
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Once you have decided to train for a half marathon, follow the advice of runner Janis Graziano. "Embrace the challenge," she says. This has been the key for her and another local runner, both of whom have recently trained for their first half marathon.
Bridget Graber, a runner from North Greenbush, New York, recommends that runners training for their first half ease into the mileage. "Take your time," Graber said. "You don't want to get injured. Taking your time and increasing your mileage at a slow and easy pace is the key to running a successful 13.1 miles. Anyone can run a half marathon with the right plan. Find the right plan for yourself and follow it. And listen to your body."
Graber knows full well the importance of listening to your body during the training cycle. She had to take a week off from running because of a sore foot and another week when she was ill. But she didn't let either layoff derail her plan. She jumped back in, continued to train and made her way through the miles.
But knowing when to back off and when to push on is difficult for runners not used to longer distances. Graziano, who is also from North Greenbush, struggled with exactly that. "I am not a seasoned runner who knows how to work out all the little kinks that come with adding on the mileage. I struggled more than I would have liked with pesky physical pains. It's the running rookie in me that doesn't really know if I should try to power through, or if doing so will cause me to injure myself too close to the finish line."
Pain and potential injuries are what every runner wants to avoid, especially those training for a race of 13.1 miles. With a reasonable, conservative plan, however, most runners can make it to the start line healthy and ready to race. Part of that "ready to race" confidence comes from logging weekly long runs, a key workout in a half marathon training plan.