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Adding Miles: My First Half Marathon

Kim has tackled and conquered a couple 5K and 10K races over the past few years. Next up on the goal board is the half marathon. The half marathon is one of my favorite distance races. It’s long enough that you have to work hard, but short enough that training doesn’t consume your life.

One of the milestones of half marathon training comes in the weeks you start increase your mileage. When you do this, you want to increase steadily and safely to avoid injuries and burnout. Sometimes it’s really exciting to add a lot in at one time. But if you take it slow and follow a few general rules, you can train flawlessly and enjoy the ride strait to race day!

The general rule of thumb for increasing mileage is the ten percent rule. As you increase mileage, you want to avoid increasing more than 10 percent a week. Even the seasoned runner follows this rule. Taking this approach can reduce injury risk and improve performance over the training period. When increasing mileage, there are a few other factors to consider.

Avoid too much too soon: Make sure that you listen to your body and take the time off that you need. Common mistakes for new runners training for long distances include the assumption that you need to run every day. As you add mileage, you may feel sore or tired and your body will need rest. Make sure to schedule adequate rest and cross training days.

Run with a ROCKIN playlist: Music can be very motivating for many runners. If you like to listen to music while you run, create an upbeat and fun playlist. If you anticipate you will struggle at certain points of the run, add in your “power” songs near those times. Or add them near the end to keep you pumped up all the way to the finish.

Try the walk-run method: One of the biggest misconceptions about running a half marathon is that you have to run the entire race. By adding in scheduled walk breaks, you can avoid getting tired and finish strong. As you increase mileage into new training territory, it may be good to add in a few short walk breaks to separate the distance for you. As you build endurance and get stronger, you can take them out if you choose.

Try intervals: If you have had success with the walk-run method, move into intervals to keep training interesting and fun. Intervals can help you increase your pace, conquer challenging distances, and even add fun and variety to your routine.

Plan ahead and record: Make sure that you plan the week’s training ahead of time so that you can change your run days if necessary. It’s okay to switch a long run to another day of the week as long as you are still incorporating the rest days before or after it. Also keep a record so that you can look back at what you have done and how you felt after each training run. Record things like time, distance, how you felt during and after, hydration, and heart rate.

Don’t forget fuel: As you start long training runs, don’t forget the importance of fuel. Longer distances require a great deal of energy. You will want to replace it. General rule of thumb is to take in 30 to 60 grams of easy-to-digest carbohydrates per every one hour of exercise. It’s important to space it out over the hour to avoid cramping. You can use sports nutrition bars, Gu, Shot Bloks, honey, or anything else you enjoy. Basically I recommend eating every six miles if you are on a long run. You will avoid hitting the wall and get the energy needed to finish strong.

Just do it and have fun: You will have plenty of days where you just don’t want to run because it’s cold, you’re tired, or don’t have time. Recognize it’s important to train properly, and get out there and go for it! Have fun and enjoy training because it will go fast. Race day will be here before you know it! You are more likely to be successful at something you enjoy, so have fun. Then it won’t ever feel like work!