So you’ve got Christmas and New Year and all the over indulgences out of the way. Now you might be thinking “right, I need get fit[tter]!” or you might have that nagging New Year's resolution in there.
More and more people are strapping their trainers on and going for a run and why not? Most people can do it from their front door you don’t need that much stuff to get started, just a pair of trainers.
Once people start many, but not all, then think “I’m going to do a Marathon!”. Well wait a minute! Rome wasn’t built in a day! Like anything you need to build up to a challenge like that and if you’re just starting out, that Marathon should be a little way in the future, maybe one or even two years. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some other challenges this year. A perfect place to start would be a half marathon. Why? Well because then you’re halfway there :)
So how do you train for a half marathon? Answer: little by little!
The best thing you can do for your half marathon training is to just get out there! Don’t worry about running necessarily when you start. Some of the best Ultra runners in the world will tell you it’s just about being on your feet for that amount of time. So just put on your trainers or walking boots (though don’t run in your walking boots!) and go for a walk. After you’ve done that for a while you can start running a little but mostly walking. Then a little later you can start running mostly and walking a little. Then progress into running all the time. There are plenty of guides, books, podcasts, apps out there to get you started like ‘Couch to 5k’, google it you’ll find loads of info. Once you’ve got your 5k then just keep going!
Now a lot of people that start running 5k and more then start getting drawn in by the kit. The latest Inov-8 or Salomon trainers or the expensive tops or start reading (and worrying!) about should I toe strike, heel strike or midfoot strike. Don’t get me wrong if you are going to run regularly you should invest in a good pair of trainers from a specialist running shop, the money can be worth it to prevent injuries. But after that you should just run! You can tweak your running style but for the most part you run how you run, don’t worry about it too much. Most of us aren't going to be winning races anytime soon you, just need to enjoy it!
So you’re running 5k without a problem what next, well keep going. Why not try doing a 10k race? There are many many races out there it’s all about what type of thing you want to do. Do you want a flat road course, a hilly picturesque trail running route or a mountain route (though mountain routes probably aren’t the best start!)? Once you’ve decided just search online for them (There's a list of a few at the bottom of this article). You can either use google to find one, running diary website or visit an athletics association website, such as Welsh Athletics or UK Athletics.
Entered? Right, now you’ve got a goal you can work towards but don’t worry too much, after all this is fun! Just keep doing what you were, get out there and run. There are a few things you can do to make sure you can keep the training going and keep the injuries at bay. Maybe stretching, warm up before, warm down after, see a sports masseuse, cold baths after training, see a running coach, see a physio therapist. You might want to do add other sports like swimming and cycling. They all help build your muscles and get you fit.
The bottom line is find out what works for you and keep doing it. If you do get injured, rest. After a few days or weeks (depending on what you injured) you’ll be back half marathon training. One thing that will definitely help you keep the injuries away is to not train flat out every time you go out. I know, you might think ‘well if I’m not flogging myself I’m not improving’. Well that’s not totally true, just walking can be just as good for you to condition your muscles and build strength and stability. So if you struggling to run to 10k and more slow down and you’ll get there. Remember this is supposed to be fun not another stress in your life :)
Now 10k is out of the way you can start moving to half marathon training. And now there's not much more I can say about that. By now you’ll have found what works for you and what doesn't. What trainers you like and which ones you don’t. What type of events or terrain you like and which you don’t. Just keep going, keep getting out and above all keep enjoying it! If you’re not enjoying it you're doing something wrong.