You’re beyond beginner status, but you want more. So how to transition from a solid 5-10k runner to a half marathon machine – and beyond?
Read on for our top five tips on how to run further and step up from 10k to your first half marathon.
Believe you can
Mindset is everything. What does your inner voice sound like while you’re running? If it’s repeating negative thoughts – “This hill is a killer!” or “I’ll never make it round” – your brain will start to pick up on evidence which supports these statements and filter out anything that contradicts it. In other words, you won’t notice all the runs where you powered through like a hero and instead you’ll fixate on the ones where you felt slow and sluggish.
The good news, though, is that you can counter this simply by telling yourself positive things. Be your own personal cheerleader: tell yourself you can and you *will* see improvements. Try some of these phrases the next time you head out for a run: “I can do one more minute,” “I’m feeling powerful,” or “I’m getting better all the time.” You might be surprised with the results!
Don’t overcomplicate things
When you’re trying to improve your running performance, it can be tempting to try out fancy new apps, gear or snacks in a bid to go further and faster. But don’t lose sight of a simple truth: running is a pretty straightforward science.
In the early days of building up your mileage, try staying out longer without obsessing about distance, pace or anything else. You’ll soon realise the miles will take care of themselves – and with that realisation, your self belief will really start to grow.
A change is as good as a rest
Don’t let negativity creep in by letting yourself get bored. MIx up your running routine with different routes or by spotting landmarks. Experimenting with trail running – think woodland, hills and tracks – can keep things interesting while boosting your stamina, or committing to a run with a friend or two can spur you on to keep going when things feel tough.
Or if you’re more of a solo runner, think about what you can listen to to keep those legs pumping – it doesn’t matter whether it’s 90s hits or a gritty podcast, it’s about whatever works.
Sign up for a race or event
Let’s talk goals. Having a race or event in the diary is a powerful psychological tool – one that’s proven to have a positive impact on your running. Tell family and friends what you’re planning and relish the praise that follows – it’s an important part of building your belief that you can do this.
The ‘keep it interesting’ rule applies here, too – go for a local race or a destination event. Choose a run somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit and build in some sightseeing time as a reward for your efforts. If you’ve already got a few races in the bag, try something a bit different like an ultra or trail run, a new distance or an endurance or obstacle event (may we suggest a Great Run?)
Celebrate the successes
While you’re challenging yourself to run further, don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come. Set yourself some mini milestones and medium-term goals – just make sure that you space them out and that you actually achieve them before you pat yourself on the back for them. Rewards can be an extremely powerful motivator – but they’re only empowering if they feel genuinely meaningful.
You could promise yourself a favourite meal, a pay day treat or a sports massage – but whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that makes you feel really special, You deserve this!
If you’re looking for a half marathon challenge, find your great run here.