The Half Marathon can be a tough challenge - sitting right in the middle of a speedy 10KM race and the gruelling miles of a marathon. With being in the middle, it’s important to keep elements of both speed and strength within your training - as getting the balance of both is key to running well!
After the disruption of races last year due to covid, I was feeling an equal amount of excitement and nerves heading into The Great North Run. It’s such an iconic event and a race that I’ve always wanted to do but with it being an Olympic Year - all of my training and focus was rightfully on Tokyo 2021. Despite not fully feeling prepared for distance of the Half, I knew I was heading into race day - fitter, faster and stronger than ever before. And throughout the summer season, even though I was racing much shorter track races - I still included some long runs and longer tempo efforts to keep in touch with half marathon pace. Keeping elements of that type of pace within my week, definitely helped knit things together on race morning. The Great North Run was on a different route this year due to covid restrictions but I was over the moon to finish a competitive 2nd place in 67:48. The third fastest time in British history and the fastest ever debut by a British female.
The course was changed to an out and back route which was much more challenging than I expected but it was incredible to have mass racing back on the roads of the UK and to have spectators shouting on the streets. It honestly was such an incredible experience - especially when we doubled back on ourselves to run past the masses. We had the best support throughout the whole course and it truly did help me to keep pushing when things got tough. The last three miles was particularly challenging with a lot of hills and twisty corners so I can’t wait to return in 2022 on the proper, iconic route. I even had someone shout, “Eilish McColgan powered by Chia Charge!!” at one point!
A lot of runners make the simple mistake over overcooking things - increasing mileage too fast and running too many slow miles when preparing for a half. We always advise our runners to increase mileage no more than 10% each week, focus on maintaining one 5-10K interval session and one long run per week. This allows for a good balance of training and to be best prepared to take on 13.1 miles.
Once a week, my long run would be around 12miles so just short of the half distance but as I got closer to race day, this reduced to 8miles. This reduction in mileage occurs across all of my runs with around one week till race day. I find that this slight taper gives fresher legs for racing but without leaving me feeling sluggish or flat. Key interval sessions were things like 6x1mile or 20x400m off 60s recovery. I like to keep an element of faster work in my programme to ensure the ‘slower’ half pace feels more comfortable on race day. It’s something that really works well for me!
Shoes and kit are super important too - so make sure you try out the shoes you’re going to race in over an interval session and also in a long run. That way you know what to expect on race day, and to ensure the shoes are working for you and not against you. I like to wear a lighter racing shoe compared to my normal every day trainer - it helps me to feel fast when I lace it up on race day.
Nutrition is crucial for marathon training and of course ultra running - however it still has an important place in half marathon training too. Ensuring that you are adequately fuelled the morning of the race will give you the energy you need to power through all 13.1miles. I usually aim to eat around 2-3 hours before racing and afterwards, I always aim to get in a Chia Charge protein bar within the first 20min window of finishing. The added protein gives my muscles the chance to recover so that I feel less stiff the following morning.
Myself and my partner, Michael Rimmer, coach several runners across the world via our online coaching business - Running Made Easy. So if you’re looking for a more in-depth programme and one to one scheduling - get in touch with us at www.runningmadeeasy.co.uk
So if it's your first, or your 50th Half - go out there and enjoy it!
Download the Chia Charge Half Marathon training plan here