Letter To A Wannabe Half Marathon Runner
I am experiencing writer’s block. That’s why I am posting this letter I wrote few weeks back. A shortcut, but I guess it will be useful to you especially the beginners.
One of my good friend, now relocated to Bangalore, called me to ask for advice. What better feeling one can have than to be asked for guidance!
He asked for a training program to follow and tips on how to prepare for a half marathon. He had rightly figured out that being a beginner, a half marathon would be ideal for him. I know his background as a avid adventurer so he has that basic strength and endurance. Then on a Sunday morning, I sat down and wrote this letter to him.
I have edited few parts of the original letter to make it more comprehensive and better than what I wrote then.
Congrats on taking this step of running marathons. Somebody said that if you want to see god, then run a marathon.
Half marathon is an ideal step for improving your health, fitness and endurance. And it is lifestyle friendly too.
Okay now on to training. Hyderabad marathon, I think, will be held on 24 Aug 2014. The dates are not out yet. Keep a lookout on their website for the dates.
24 Aug means roughly 5 and ½ months or 22 weeks. Now, training for any race requires the following phases.
- Base phase – 5-8 weeks.
- Strength phase – 3-5 weeks.
- Speed phase – 3-6 weeks.
- Taper – 2 weeks
Therefore, your training will be a total of 13 – 21 weeks.
Aim for the higher value of the number of weeks i.e 21 weeks. Add an additional week to your base phase to make it 9 weeks as it will be your first race. Now to understand the phases read this, http://www.runningforfitness.org/book/chapter-10-putting-it-together/training-phases. The author has written very clearly about the importance of each phase.
You can also do some 10 km races before Hyderabad Half marathon. There are a couple of them in your city. It will give you a good feel as to what you can expect on the race day. Though take these 10 kms just like practice runs. Don’t go all out. Get a feel of running on your goal pace in them.
I am giving a couple of links of half marathon training program. Pick and choose according to your comfort. Make your own small diary or training log book. It will help to be prepared for the next days workout. The programs are of 12 weeks. Increase the base phase in that.
Few guidelines for your training.
- Read this on improving running form. Good running form will help you make a better runner and stay injury free.
- Do warm up religiously before running. No static stretching but dynamic warm up.
- Cool down with some yoga and static stretching.
- Do these lower body exercises. These are few basic moves which are essential for a runner.
- Do upper body strengthening by doing push ups, chin ups and some weight training like bench press and dumbbells rows. It will help you to maintain a good form.
- Train your core. It is the most important thing.
- Read up about injuries. It will help you identify them before they strike you. I have written about a few. You will find tons of them online. http://blogonrunning.com/category/running/injury-prevention/ .
- Ensure you recover properly after workout so as to improve your running. If you don’t recover well, you may get injured.
- Buy a heart rate monitor if you can. The one I use is cheap and effective. It will help you in base phase to run in your aerobic zone. However, you can skip buying this. It can help but is not an essential accessory.
- Buy good shoes for running. Take any shoe and it should be comfortable. There shouldn’t be any second thoughts about it’s fitting. And go in the evening to buy them.
- Buy some cool running shorts and t – shirts.
- Eat healthy food. No junk. They will interrupt in your recovery process. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.
- After run have a recovery drink like milk with Bournvita or Boost. It’s a combo of carbs and proteins.
- Have nuts like almonds, walnuts to stave off hunger and will help avoiding binge eating.
- Keep having water every 30-60 minutes especially on warm days. It will keep you alert and hydrated. I always carry my water bottle everywhere.
- Eat a toast with peanut butter before runs of more than an hour and carry water on those runs.
- Do some hill running as the Hyderabad Marathon course has it’s share of uphills and downhills.
- Get a training partner. Running alone sometimes can be a drudgery.
To enjoy running and learn about the sport, you need to read up a lot. Its pretty exciting. Read these books.
- Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr..
- Eat and Run by Scott Jurek.
- Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes.
- Lore of Running by Tim Noakes. It’s called the bible of running. Around 900 pages thick.
- There are few documentaries and movies you will love.
- Running to the limits.
- Spirit of the marathon.
- Ultra Marathon Man and Running the Sahara (Double Feature).
- Running Brave.
- Saint Ralph.
Enjoy this journey of training. I find the training period equally exciting as the race itself. Call me whenever you want. Also keep checking my blog. Will be putting useful stuff.
Till then stay fit and keep running.