Everything you need to know about your first half-marathon

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You need to take training seriously (and you might even enjoy it!)

No, that doesn’t mean turning into a humourless running bore banging on about hydration and carbohydrates. But a half marathon is a serious goal, and one that needs to be respected – you simply can’t wing it (well, not without risking injury, and who wants that?) It takes time, effort and energy to commit to a training plan (we have lots here), but the payoff is immense: you’ll feel fitter, stronger, maybe even make new friends. And nothing compares to that finish line feeling – talk about a running high!

You’ll learn that food is more than just fuel

While you’re racking up the miles, you’ll gain a new respect for your body – and the food that fuels it. Here’s the good news – if you’re running lots, you can tuck in. But if you want to enhance your performance, you need to make sure you’re eating the right things – take a look at a few suggestions here. However, it’s not just about what you eat *before* your runs – it’s also about what you take on board afterwards, too. Check out our article on eating to recover here and get inspired.

Water is your friend

Have you ever woken up with a headache after a long run? Not drinking enough water could be to blame. When it comes to water, everyone’s different, but there are guidelines for how much you should aim to drink (6-8 glasses of water last time we checked). However, there are lots of factors which can affect how much you should – and want – to drink. Get the lowdown on hydration in our blog post here.

It’s not about the finish time

During training, you’ll see yourself progress. From baby steps to 7, 8, 9 miles and beyond, you’ll find stamina you never knew you had – and a sense of pride to match it. But as race day draws closer, the pressure can start to set in, as well as some worries. At this point, you need to trust your body and your training. You’ve put the time in, you’ve got the miles in your legs – what could go wrong? Take some deep breaths, repeat some positive mantras and try not to overthink things. You didn’t come this far not to enjoy your moment of glory!

Tapering is essential

The big day is almost here, your number’s in the post and you’re tempted to pack in the miles. But squeezing in long rungs in the last few days before your event is potentially dangerous – it can leave you feeling exhausted, aching and more susceptible to injury.

Tapering – the technical term for winding down your running ahead of a big event – can seem counterintuitive to a running newbie, but it works. Remember, the goal is to rest your body without losing fitness, so do it slowly over two weeks – tapering doesn’t mean grinding suddenly to a complete stop! Sources suggest that an effective approach can be cutting your miles down by 30% two weeks before race day, and then 50% during the week before – but everyone’s different. What’s important, though, is that you do it.

Have fun!

However you approach your half marathon, though, don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal: to enjoy it. Even if you’re not bitten by the running bug, here’s hoping your first half marathon will begin – or reignite – a love of being active. Good luck!

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