Half Marathon Training and Racing Guide

Half Marathon Training and Racing Guide

Over the past several years, the half marathon has surged in popularity. According to recent statistics from Running USA, the half marathon is the second most popular distance in road running, after the ubiquitous 5K.  The half marathon appeals to beginner and advanced runners alike. For beginner runners, the distance is challenging and rewarding but less intimidating than the marathon. Experienced runners find that the half marathon provides a mix of speed and endurance, making it the happy medium of road running. 

Whether you’re running your first half marathon or you are training for a big PR, taking a smart approach to half marathon training and racing will help you enjoy the experience and run your best race – whatever that may be – on race day. 

Half Marathon Training and Racing Guide

Nutrition during Half Marathon Training 

4 Myths about Racing Weight 

The phrase “racing weight” bears many connotations, but in short, it’s the weight at which you race your best performances. Racing weight means you are fueling your body well for the distance, rather than depriving and undereating. Some runners aim for their racing weight during a half marathon, some focus on nutrition and how they feel without weighing themselves, and others disregard racing weight altogether. 

What to Eat the Night Before a Long Run

Your dinner the night before a long run achieves multiple purposes. Choosing bland foods will prevent GI distress and carbohydrates will store as glycogen for energy on your run. Most of all, you want to practice what you will eat the night before the race before some of your long runs – because the night before a race is not the time to determine if pizza will help you carb-load or upset your stomach the next day.

Fueling on Your Long Runs 

Your muscles only store enough glycogen for 2 hours of running and you don’t want to bonk on a run. Bonking results not only in a bad run, but it can stress your immune system and depreciate your confidence in your running. First time half marathoners will want to fuel for long runs of 90 minutes or longer, while experienced runners may choose to fuel less often on runs. Runners on all levels will benefit from practicing their race day fueling in at least one long run. 

Half Marathon Training Tips

13 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Half Marathon 

Running is simple, but training for a race can be complicated. From running too often at goal pace to following a hodgepodge training plan, you want to avoid these common mistakes that sabotage your half marathon training and racing. 

Half Marathon Training and Racing Guide

Half Marathons Workouts for Beginner and Experienced Runners

The rule of specificity means that your workouts and training directly target the physiological demands of your goal race distance. For the half marathon, longer intervals, tempo runs, and long runs will build both the speed and endurance needed to race your best 13.1. 

How to Run a Sub 1:45 Half Marathon 

Whether your goal is 1:45, 2 hours, or 1:30, this post explains the steps you can take in your training to reach your half marathon race day goals. 

Half Marathon Racing

How to Pace Your Fastest Half Marathon

The half marathon can be a tricky distance to race since you are running very close to your lactate threshold for a prolonged duration of time. Start too fast, and you will crash and burn during the final 5K. Start out too slow and you won’t be able to make up lost time during the final few miles. For most runners, pacing a strong half marathon means attempting to run negative splits by holding back over the first few miles and then pushing over the last few miles.

Half Marathon Training and Racing Guide

How to Include Tune Up Races in Your Training

While specifically training for a half marathon will produce the best results, you can also use a half marathon as a tune up race before a marathon. A tune up race is best done 4-8 weeks before your marathon, which gives you enough time to recover before race day. A tune up half marathon can be used as a fitness test, practice race, or as a hard long run during marathon training. 

How I Improved My Fueling and Hydration for Racing

Even if you don’t use gels for an average easy 13 mile run, fueling during the half marathon race itself has a significant ergogenic effect. The faster you run, the more carbohydrates you burn, so a half marathon race requires more energy in the form of carbohydrates than an easy-paced long run does. I’ve done up to 16 mile long runs without fuel, but during a half marathon I take two gels – and let me tell you, those extra carbs feel like rocket fuel mid-race. 

And don’t forget to recover well after your half marathon

Linking up with Coaches’ Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday

What training and racing tips have helped you run your best half marathon?

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12 Responses

  1. Great info! love the half-marathon but haven’t trained specifically for one in about 4 years. I think one of the most important tips is to not start out too fast- its better to still haven energy left to push at the end!

  2. What a great guide! You have touched on so many important things. For me, it’s practicing race pace in workouts. For my first few halfs, it was all steady state easy pace on long runs. Kicking it up for even the last 2 miles makes a difference.

  3. I love that you have all this information linked in one place! Very helpful! I’m just starting to gear up for my next race in June, so the half marathon is on my mind!

  4. I actually think my best half, which was my last December, was just a matter of a flat course, optimal weather, and all the previous years’ of training.

    I’m pretty sure I couldn’t run 16 miles without eating, but then again, it would probably take me about 4 hours (not exaggerating there).

    Oddly enough, though, I find that for some shorter runs outside I still get hungry so I’ll take a little something with me, in case, but I don’t eat for the same length run when it has to be done on the treadmill. Weird!

  5. What an awesome round up, Laura! So much good advice in one place. And as you know, I’m obsessing over all things half marathon this week!

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