Expert Tips for Training for a Half Marathon

So you’ve decided to run your first half-marathon. Ah-mazing! Not only are you gaining lifetime bragging rights but new research shows that running a marathon at any age can add years to your life.

We talked to Brittany Moran, a Nike running coach and chiropractor, about how to put your best foot forward.

How can a new runner create a training plan?

For a new runner, I recommend trying the Nike Run Club app. You can input information about your running and it will line up a program that suits you.

How long should a newbie train?

For a new runner training for a half-marathon, I suggest 14 to 18 weeks.

How many runs in a week?

You should aim to run between three and five times a week. Each week should include one long run (ideally, working up to 18 kilometres at least), one easy run (around five kilometres) and one workout – this can change between hills, tempo and fartlek intervals (periods of faster running mixed with periods of slower running) and should be five to eight kilometres in length.

(Here’s some running gear that’ll help get your to the finish line.)

What do you recommend eating pre-run?

Think of your long run as a dress rehearsal for race day: Eat what you would for dinner the night before, for breakfast and for fuel during the run. My go-to is two pieces of gluten-free toast with natural peanut butter and banana, along with a hard-boiled egg, coffee and water. (Or, try our peanut butter, apple, and raisin sandwich.)

How about post-run?

Be sure to eat within a 20- to 30-minute window post-race  to increase recovery. This should consist of a combo of carbohydrates and protein.

Any tips for muscle recovery after a long run?

If I don’t do active isolated stretches afterward, I feel terrible on my next run. You can even do them later in the day so that there are no excuses.

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Best race-day strategies?

Don’t start out too hard. The first five to 10 kilometres should feel relatively easy, and then it’s time to work in the back half. Be sure to remind yourself that you trained for this.

Any other seasoned runner wisdom you can impart on us?

You should aim to feel like you’ve already won when you stand on the start line because you’ve enjoyed the process of getting there.

The Big Q: Stretch before or after?

If I had to choose, I would say post-run. But, ideally, you should do a dynamic warm-up that consists of run drills and activations, too.

Next, learn a secret for achieving your running goal.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada