Get Your Half Marathon On
The fastest growing demographic in running today is the half marathon. It offers all the challenges of pacing, fueling and strategy without feeling daunting, like the marathon sometimes can. RunningUSA reported last year that since the year 2000 attendance at half marathons in this country has gone up 307%! In 2013 there were 1.9 million half marathon finishers and a whopping 61% were women.
Why are people so drawn to the half marathon? There are lots of great reasons. For one, it's a natural next step for a solid 10K runner looking for their next challenge. It's also every future marathoner's first big step on their way to running a marathon. Anybody who has doubts about whether or not they're marathoner material can use the half as their own testing ground. It's also a very respectable distance for former marathoners to settle into when they no longer want to, or are able to, run marathons. There's less recovery time and less training time involved than for a marathon. In fact, using the Chi Running training system it doesn't take much more time and energy than training for a 10K.
For those of you who are thinking of running a half marathon this year, whether it's your first or your tenth, here are some tips to help you get there in the best shape ever.
Spend your pre-race training weeks practicing the things that will ensure success.
- Acknowledge and reduce inefficiencies in your running technique (ie. Poor posture, weak core, muscle tension, hard foot strike)
- Practice your fueling and hydration during your long runs. Test which fuel systems work best for you and how much you need to drink to stay hydrated.
- Run mock-ups of your race course. Find out what the terrain is like and run similar elevation gains and losses on your training runs.
- If there are hills on your course, practice your technique for running hills… both up and down. Get skillful at adapting your technique to the requirements of the course.
- Rehearse going through aid stations and drinking while running or walking. The best way to drink from a paper cup is to crimp the top between your fingers and drink from the "spout".
- Practice your starting pace so you have plenty of umph for the last 2-3 miles of the race.
- Practice resting on the run by relaxing more and easing up on your stride if necessary.
For me, the best part of running a half marathon is the training. I get to run with friends, learn new running routes, get more regular with my workouts, try out new foods for fuel and, best of all, it doesn't require as much time commitment as a full marathon. If you decide to run a half this year, let us know and we'll be happy to help you get to that starting line in great shape.
Here's a letter from a half marathoner in Scotland who used our ChiMarathon book to train. Don't let the title fool you - ChiMarathon is for anyone running the half-marathon OR full marathon distance.
"My Name is Rachael and I have learned more about running from your Chi Marathon book than I have over the previous 4 years of entering races. I have gone from a struggling 9 min./mile to a confident 8-minute miler or better. The one thing I noticed in my last race was by 3 miles most of those around me were running out of posture alignment and panting like mad, and I, for a change, was just jogging along with plenty left in the bank. Finished in the end in 1:44 … 12 minutes better than last year! Got another half in 2 weeks so we'll see what happens then."