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Half Marathon Training

Whilst the London Marathon rightly grabs the spotlight in April, autumn time is when many half-marathons take place. The Great North Run kicks things off in early September; a run that actually has more participants than the London marathon, and closer to home is the Great Birmingham Run on October 14th, both attracting world class elite runners.

But as with the London Marathon, it’s the fun runners raising money for charity and aiming for Personal Bests or fulfilling a dream of completing a challenging distance that really capture the imagination; people like you, me and my Personal Training clients.

The professional runners will already be well into a structured half marathon training programme; however isn’t the case for most fun runners. If you want to achieve your goals July is the time to make them happen.

No matter what level you are currently at a lot can be achieved in a structured 12 week half marathon training programme, but the clock is ticking so that means getting started now! The first step is to think about what you want to achieve on race day and how much time is realistic for you to commit to training around your lifestyle. Once you’ve decided on your goal think of ways that will help you focus on it, 1) write it somewhere you’ll continually notice it 2) tell people who will help to motivate you 3) break it down to smaller goals to tick off along the way.

The next step is to start putting together your own personal half marathon training programme,  how many days a week are you going to train? For a typical person 3 x is a good number, its regular enough to allow for significant progress and realistic enough to fit into a busy lifestyle. Work backwards – using the Birmingham Great Run as an example, start by putting down what you want to achieve on the day, then going back a week at a time where you need to be to achieve your end goal. Be as detailed as possible, which days are you going to be training and what is that day’s session going to entail.

Thinking specifically about a half marathon programme, from a Personal Training viewpoint all programmes should be individual, focusing on your current level and the goals you want to achieve. If you are a beginner and your sole aim is to complete the run, then a simple programme building up your distances and as you improve mixing up both long and short runs would be ideal. Whereas if your goal involves achieving a certain time, then as well as increasing stamina doing long runs, speed work is important to, using various types of interval training such as mile reps or hill sprints.

Having completed the Great Birmingham Run and helped many of my personal training clients to do it as well, it’s a fantastic event and a great feeling when you’ve finished and achieved the goal you have trained hard for. Good luck to all those competing; I’ll be there to cheer you on!

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