Prepare for your first half-marathon
Running (and finishing) a half marathon is a great accomplishment. Needless to say, careful preparation is crucial to accomplishing this feat, especially if you are new to exercise. Before you even think of running your first half marathon, you should have a basic fitness level and should have been running at least three miles three times a week for at least a year.
Your first act of preparation should be to consult with your doctor. Do not trust the way your body feels and looks. Only your doctor can tell you whether running a half marathon is right for you at this time.
Your goal is to run at a comfortable pace, meaning that if you train with a partner, you should be able to run and talk at the same time. Your target heart rate (THR) should be between 65 and 75% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). To calculate your MHR, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 45, your MHR is 220 - 45 = 175 beats per minute. In the beginning you may want to aim your THR at 65% then gradually build up to 75-85%.
Mark out your route beforehand by taking a drive through the area where your plan to train. If possible, choose a scenic, but safe, place to make your experience as pleasant as possible. You should be able to progressively increase your distance from 3 to 10 miles over a period of 12 weeks, however if by the end of this time you don't feel ready to go the whole distance then you should train for another 6 weeks at least. Don't push yourself too hard.
Vary your workouts with other forms of exercise, such as walking, swimming, cycling, weight-training and stretching exercises. Cross training allows your running muscles to recover from the stress placed on them and helps you maintain your fitness level. Training the same group of muscles repeatedly without a break can cause muscles to tear and tendons and ligaments to rupture.
Get good rest, for the same reasons as above.
Wearing the right type of and properly fitted footwear is crucial; it can help you train more efficiently and prevent injury.
Finally, seek advice and suggestions from other marathon runners or a personal trainer, at least in the beginning. We will only be too happy to provide you with guidance and tips. Once you gain confidence, you can continue on your own.
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