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Coopah How To: Train for your first Half Marathon

In this series of ‘HOW TO’ blogs, we are going to share our tips for the most common questions we get asked by our community of runners, and this blog is all about How To Train For Your First Half Marathon

HOW LONG DO I NEED TO TRAIN FOR?

This can be dependent on your background in running, but as standard we would advise to follow at least a 12 week half marathon specific training plan. This will ensure that you have enough time to build up to the distance gradually, include plenty of speed work and gain confidence over the distance.

At Coopah we offer race specific plans from 8 weeks all the way to 24 weeks, but we would advise you think about your previous experience when selecting a plan that is right for you.

HOW MANY DAYS PER WEEK DO I NEED TO RUN?

This can vary from person to person, but as a minimum you should aim to run at least 3 days per week, this will ensure ensure you have plenty of time to sensibly progress your mileage, your pace and build your aerobic fitness.

I HAVE NEVER USED GELS BEFORE, DO I NEED TO FOR A HALF MARATHON?

If you are new to long distance running, there is a good chance you haven’t had to consider fuelling during your runs yet, but in short – yes! During your training and the race itself it is really important that you take on fuel whilst you are running.

Energy gels are the go to for most people, as they are easy to carry and to take on whilst on the move. But there are lots of other options out there too, and ultimately the only thing that really matters is that you are taking calories onboard.

Use your training runs to practice your fuelling and find what works for you – ideally you want to be taking fuel on for any runs longer than 90 minutes. We would advise to take your first gel around the 45 minute mark, and every 45 minutes thereafter.

Don’t forget to also take water with you on your longer training runs too, taking small sips throughout your run can ensure you don’t get dehydrated, which can have a huge impact on your running.

WHAT DO I DO IF I MISS A FEW RUNS DUE TO ILLNESS, INJURY ETC?

Firstly, don’t panic! Injury and illness can happen to anyone at any time, but it doesn’t always mean you need to stop training or give up your goal race.

If you are injured, please make an appointment as soon as possible with a sports doctor or physio who will be able to assess you and provide you with a step by step plan to get you back running.

If you have missed a few days due to illness, the most important thing is to return to training sensibly and not to play catch up & cram all your missed runs into a few days. Take those first few runs back really easy with shorter runs, and build yourself back into the harder, longer runs over the next couple of weeks.

I HAVE NEVER DONE INTERVALTRAINING BEFORE, AND I AM WORRIED I WON’T BE ABLE TO RUN FAST… WHERE DO I START?!

It can feel really daunting to run faster if you have never done it before, but interval training is such an important part of any training plan and a really good way to build strength, speed and endurance. At Coopah we know how hard it can be to get started, which is why with our training plans we gradually introduce you to interval workouts, that then progress with you as you get more confident over the following weeks.

If running a certain pace feels scary, then ignore your watch and just focus on your effort levels instead. If you imagine a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being zero effort to 10 being your maximum) to start with aim for around a 7-8 for your intervals, and then as you get fitter and more confident you can start to push yourself more.

The good news is, Coopah can take all those stresses & worries away, as we can offer a fully personalised training plan that is built around your availability and goals!

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  • A fully personalised training plan
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  • Streaks and incentives to keep you motivated
  • Access to our community of other runners, physios and mental health experts to give you support and advice up to the day.
  • Track your progress and your weekly/monthly mileage

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