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5k and 10ks to a Half Marathon

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If you have a quite a few 5ks and 10ks under your belt and have been running on a fairly regular basis, you may be eager for something more. Perhaps setting a new personal record at your last 10k has boosted your confidence and caused you to set your sights on an even bigger task — a half marathon. If you are running on a regular basis, making the transition from 5 and 10ks to a half marathon may be a lot easier than you think. Read more on how to make the transition to a half marathon.

Making The Transition To A Half Marathon

Perhaps the biggest training difference that comes along with transitioning to a half marathon is that you are going to want to focus less on speed and more on strength and reducing fatigue as you run. Remember, 13.1 miles is a considerable increase from running a 5k or 10k at your fastest speed. Becoming a half marathoner does not occur overnight. However, there are several training tips you can use to make the transition in a safe and healthy manner.

Making Changes to Your Training
There are a number of changes that you will need to make to your training to successfully be able to run a half marathon. Below outlines the various areas where training changes are going to be necessary in order to successfully complete your first half marathon.

1. Your easy runs
Think about your easy runs. What is an easy run for you currently? Can you currently run 15-20 minutes without even thinking twice about it? When it comes to your easy runs, there is no right or wrong distance. If you are comfortable with going on a 20-minute easy run, you may wish to continue your 20-minute easy runs. However, you may wish to work up to a longer easy run; 40-45 minutes. To build endurance for a longer easy run, aim to run for a longer amount of time at a slower speed. This will help you build up endurance for your half marathon.

2. Your long runs
A long run for someone at the 5 to 10k level would typically range from 30 to 90 minutes. If you are setting your sights on a half marathon, strength and endurance will need to be improved so that your long runs can become even longer. To increase your long runs, trying increasing your run by 10 percent each week until you have reached the desired time of your long run.

Half-Marathon

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Stop dreading running hills
For most runners, regardless of skill levels, running hills is always the most dreaded form of training. However, running hills is a great way to build strength and endurance in your quest to run a half marathon. To best train on hills, run up a hill at the pace you plan on running during your race. To recover, jog back down the hill slowly. Do this in place of a 20-30 minute run.

4. Remember to interval train
Interval training is very helpful in working towards building up mileage for a half marathon. Chances are you have interval trained at some point for a 5k or 10k. Interval training includes running at a fast pace followed by a jog/brisk walk and this cycle is repeated over and over again until you have completed the desired length of your run. Much like increasing the speed of your long runs, you should increase your intervals at no more than 10 percent each week.

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5. Modifying your tempo runs
If you are unfamiliar with running terminology, tempo runs are runs that are completed at near race pace and at a pace that would allow you to run for at least an hour straight. If you currently run a tempo run for 20-25 minutes for a 10k, aim to complete a 35-45 minute tempo run in preparation for your half marathon.

Helpful Hints

  • To avoid overuse injuries and wearing yourself out, never increase your training regime by more than 10 percent each week. The stress on your body can become too much to handle and you may find yourself sidelined with an overuse injury.
  • Remember to cross-train. Half marathon training does not have to be entirely about running. Engaging in strength training and core training can help provide you with a strong upper body and core, which can help to alleviate some of the pressure on your lower body as you run. Engaging in flexibility training (for example, yoga) can help to reduce muscle tightness, which can reduce aches, pains and injuries in runners.
  • Always warm up and cool down. This can help relieve stiffness and soreness, increase flexibility and help to reduce injuries.

Tips for Becoming a Better Runner

  • Keep it consistent. Going from 0 miles in one week to running 30 the next is not realistic. If you want to take your runs to the next level (half marathon), select a training program and stick with it. No one has ever come from trying to go from 5k to half marathon overnight.
  • Make sure you are running in proper form. Poor form can lead to injuries. While running, your head should be stacked over your spine. Your shoulders should be relaxed and you should be engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • Dress the part. You do not need to invest in fancy clothing to run in or train for a half marathon. However, a good pair of running shoes can go a long way in your success as a half marathoner.
  • Fuel your body. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is just as much a part of a good training regime as a long run is. Eating too little before a run can leave you with no energy to complete your run and eating too much can cause cramps as you run. If you don’t have time to eat before running, grab 15 grams of an easily digestible carbohydrate before you run.
  • Stay hydrated. Water is extremely important to runners of all levels. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and muscle cramps.
  • Be prepared. Running a half marathon takes time and dedication. Don’t expect to go from 5k to half marathon overnight. Be prepared to commit yourself to running if this is a goal you really want to achieve.

Remember it’s not necessarily the length of your run that counts. A good, quality run at your first half marathon is something to be proud of.