Your first half marathon

Considering your first half marathon? Running coach Phoebe Thomas answers your common questions

Your first half marathon

Your first half marathon is a monumental milestone in your running journey. From initially struggling to run for more than two minutes at a time, you’re now preparing to run for two hours – without stopping. However, no matter how many parkruns or 10Ks you have under your belt, it’s natural to feel a little anxious about running your first half, purely due to the sheer increase in distance. For that reason, we’ve teamed up with running coach and Advanced Personal Trainer Phoebe Thomas to answer your common half marathon questions.

How often should I run each week?

This depends on how many times a week you are running now. You can train really well for a half marathon with just three or four runs per week. The important thing is that these runs aren’t just time on your feet but include the right variety of training. A beginner’s half marathon schedule would be ideal and guide you in the right direction. Always include some core work and strength work into your weekly mix to prevent injury and make you a more efficient runner.

Can I do more than one half marathon per year without risking injury?

Absolutely – they are nowhere near as depleting as a full marathon. I often get my athletes completing one half marathon but doing another four to five weeks later, as the first race can be a stepping stone to a big PB in the second. You shouldn’t be training for half marathons all year round though. Concentrating on half marathons in Spring and Autumn, but with shorter, faster races over the summer is an ideal strategy. And guess what – race organisers know this, so the variety of races on offer will fit this race season strategy perfectly.

How long should my longest run be for a half marathon?

This depends on your ability and how much distance you cover. 2hrs to 2hrs 15mins is great, but don’t just obsess over distance; remember to include some slightly shorter runs (around 1hr 30mins) with target race pace blocks in the final weeks of your training. These, combined with the mid-week threshold and hill work sessions, will be sure to reap huge rewards.

How and when should I taper for a half marathon?

Ten days is an ideal taper – keep your frequency the same but be sure to reduce the volume.

I’m doing a trail half marathon. What advice do you have for me about running off road?

Get the right kit! Ensure you have a trail running shoe that is appropriate to the terrain you will be running on. Include hill sessions in your training, as hills will most certainly be part of your trail half marathon experience. Work on your running-specific strength. Muddy or slippery conditions, ascending and descending trails and jumping from grass to rock all require a good level of agility, strength and core stability.

At what point during the half marathon should I start to push harder if I want a good time?

The best way to run is at your target pace consistently all the way round. Ease into the first mile then aim to get on target pace, and if you are feeling super strong at eight miles then push on from there. Aim to run a slightly faster second half – a negative split.

Download your beginner’s half marathon training plan here.


Jenny Bozon

Written by Jenny Bozon | 297 articles | View profile

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