I made a rough New Year’s resolution to set myself challenges this year (as many people do). I enjoy running recreationally so one of my ideas was to run a half marathon, I had done a 10k and wanted a bigger challenge. I chose the Hackney Half as my Uncle had run it before and it was flat (which is always a plus lots of hills is not always fun)
I want to gift some of the wisdom I gained while training for my first Half Marathon.
- Running apps are a good first step, they usually offer some advice and training plans for different running challenges but they can be a bit one-size-fits-all and it is sometimes best to try and take the rough advice, but do what works best for you. Their main use is for tracking average pace and distance. I use Strava, my favourite features that it has is the ability to create routes on its website and you can then see the route map while Strava tracks your run.
It also tracks your PR on your 1k, 5k, etc. as well as segments; which are sections of road that are created by members to compare times.
There are many different running apps on the market at the moment but I find that Strava works best for me, it has paid premium features too such as ‘beacon’ where you text a link to a family member or friend to track you while you run. During winter when its darker in the evening I regularly utilise this feature.
- Make sure you have a good pair of trainers that fit well, not too tight or loose and are comfortable to run in. I got new running shoes about a month before the Hackney Half (not the smartest of moves) I run into work nearly every day so it was not too hard to break them in. My previous running shoes caused me to have awful blisters on long distances which were no good for 13 miles, so I changed to a ‘sock’ style running shoe which is far more comfortable and does not cause blisters. I recommend going to a shop and trying on different styles and see which one is best for you.
- A great Sports Bras is an essential item for women runners. I use a high impact zip front from M&S activewear (link below) I like the zip front as it is easy to take off and put on. This might not seem like an important factor, but when you are sweaty and trying to peel off a racerback sports bra off you will wish for a zip front. A crucial factor is also minimal movement and discomfort, Maaree (link below) are another brand that is great, they have a revolutionary Adjustable Overband that keeps your boobs from bouncing uncontrollably. – Side note – Maaree was started by a lady Mari, so support ladies being bad asses running their own company!
- Try to run as much as you can, many training schedules will start about 10 weeks before the event and advise you to run at least 5 times a week. This I a good idea, but can be hard in reality 10 weeks is a long time. I had laser eye surgery about a month and a half before the Hackney Half which put me out of action with regards to vigorous exercise for about a week or two. In a 10 week schedule, a couple of weeks adds up, but don’t be too hard on yourself on missing some training. You should be doing at least one long a week (my long run day is Sunday) building your stamina each week by doing a slow long run building on the distance each week and plan to run 13 miles the week before your event. As I said early I am lucky enough to be able to run to work each morning, the runs varying between 2 and 5 miles, distances like this are good but it’s the long runs that will get you ready.
- Enjoy it! Running is a great activity it gets the blood pumping around your body, you are breathing fresh air and makes you feel generally better. That being said I really struggled on the long weekend runs, I found that I needed to drink water if I was going to run for longer than an hour and a half and would get hungry and eat so much food once I got home. Thankfully events usually have a lot of water stations, sweets and gells at different intervals of the run to keep you going.
You will find out what works best for you with regards to your training but I hope that my advice helps