Tip 2: Increase your weekly mileage: Take your trainers everywhere.
Irrespective of your base level of fitness, a half marathon is an endurance event. Running too much too soon is never a good idea. Running experts recommend never increasing your weekly mileage by 10%, but in some cases this could be as low as 5%.
Integrating running into daily life is paramount to tackling those hard training goals; you’ll be less likely to get injured for it.
My first ever long run was accidental. Whilst working in Northern France I jogged 11km along La Scarpe to the Belgian border. Forgetting to pocket enough Euros for the journey home, I ended up having to run the entire way back too. I hadn’t run longer than 10km before and despite the aching, I had a fantastic time meandering through the fields of haystacks that paved the journey. Those 22km were a huge feat for me and I inevitably caught the long-distance running bug from it. Upon returning the UK, I entered into a ballot for a place in The Big Half for the following Spring.
I’m fortunate to travel frequently for work, but the long flights and road trips can leave me feeling somewhat sluggish. Exploring a new city with an early morning run clears my jet-lagged mind and gets my bearings. I never plan a route on the first day- I usually tuck a local map into my running belt and run wherever my feet happen to take me.
Much to my partner’s bemusement, I’ve also snuck my running kit along to dates, holidays and weddings. By always keeping my trainers close at hand, I’ve squeezed in training across four continents and met some fantastic people along the way.
There might even be a parkrun on your next trip abroad- locals are more than happy to share running routes and tips with you. (Click here for map)
Could you run commute to your office? It requires some minor logistics but it’s an efficient way of getting the weekly mileage in. Keep spare toiletries and a towel at work for the post-run cleanse. If there aren’t showers at work, then you could run all (or part) of the way back home. When choosing your route, consider the following:
- Is it safe and will it be well-lit in the evening?
- Are there toilets? Most supermarkets have toilets but if you ask nicely, most pubs/restaurants will let you use theirs.
- Will there be supplies? Not all parks/woods have water fountains so ensure there’s a garage or shop on the way in case you need emergency water/food to keep you going. I always carry a fiver in my running belt- they’re resistant to sweat and much more comfortable than rattling loose change.
As a result of upping the mileage, you’ll inevitably have to carry more kit with you. I began running back from work (19 kilometres) so invested in a lightweight backpack which brings me onto…
Tip 3: Analyse your kit
What time of year is your half marathon? Check the typical weather conditions of that area and plan your kit accordingly.
If your race is in spring, you’ll be doing the bulk of your training over winter. Invest in reflective, high visibility clothing. I see so many runners wearing head-to-toe black apparel over winter. If they’re wearing headphones too then it’s a road accident just waiting to happen. You will be invisible to cars, cyclists and other pedestrians once it gets dark. SAFETY, PEOPLE!
Synthetic fabrics (so that’s most of your kit!) can take up to 200 years to decompose . Do you really need that many leggings?
When planning your race day outfit, dress for mile 4. It will be chilly by the bag drop queue at 7am, but after 30 minutes of continuous running your body will be sweating profusely. Even wearing a bin liner will help retain body heat and keep you dry. Better still- a lot of big races donate used clothing to charity so check if yours does, and then wear an old jumper for the hours leading up to the start line.
Give your race day kit a few test runs to ensure it doesn’t chafe. If you’re running for charity and they want you to wear their apparel the same still applies. You might feel fresher in brand new clothing, but if it starts to rub mid-race your performance might suffer for it. Chafage aside, you’ll want to be confident in your kit too. Women’s shorts have a tendency to ride up which can you make you pretty self-conscious if you find yourself yanking at your Lycra every five minutes. I’m a recent convert to Ronhill shorts (UK) as these don’t budge at all (Bonds Australia make great clothing too). The same applies to tops. If you’re a B Cup or under then men’s t-shirts may be a better fit on the neckline (but size down).
It doesn’t have to be expensive (My H&M running leggings lasted 4 years of continuous use!), but don’t compensate for that by purchasing more than you need. Synthetic fabrics (so that’s most of your kit) can take up to 200 years to decompose. Do you really need that many leggings? (source here)
Consider all of your body’s requirements, knickers and all. Even the wrong socks can cause blisters and soggy feet (anything made from cotton will soak sweat up like a sponge, leaving you feeling heavy).
Finally, get a running belt to stash your essentials in. By “essentials” I mean nothing more than an energy gel and audio, if you’re planning to listen to anything.
I love the infinite pockets you can get in a running backpack but in reality, this is only useful for long training runs. On race day, there should be water stations positioned along the route and you should have dropped all your things off at bag drop anyway. Some races provide complimentary isotonic gels and drinks which brings me onto…