A half marathon is a great challenge - both for the body and for the mind. You too can master it, it just takes the right preparation and attitude. We give you valuable tips on what you need to pay attention to so that your day will be a complete success.
1. Your mindset - the most important thing
Whether you've never run a race before in your life or you're a regular 10K runner, the half marathon is an incredibly satisfying and rewarding goal. It doesn't even matter if you see the run as a competition or just want to try something new - the main thing is that you do it at all!
Believing in yourself is one of the most important tips we give you here. If you think you're not good enough or can't run fast enough, think again. Anyone can run a half marathon - it's just a matter of the right preparation and mindset.
2. Your current fitness level and training plan
The most important tip beforehand: you absolutely need a training plan that prepares you for the competition. Your current fitness level is crucial for choosing the right training plan. If you are running a half marathon for the first time, you should choose a beginner plan, which is usually 12 to 18 weeks long with three to four running sessions per week. If you already have experience running and are training regularly, you can opt for an advanced or expert plan. These are usually 24 to 26 weeks long and have four to six running sessions per week.
The important thing is to choose a plan that fits your current fitness level and goals. A plan that is too ambitious can overwhelm and alienate you. A plan that offers too little challenge can leave you bored and frustrated and ultimately cause you to drop out. Find the plan that is just right for you so you can have fun working out and reach your goals! There are many free plans to be found on the internet. Alternatively, you can seek professional help and/or join a running training program. Your coaches know exactly what is important in the setup and give you helpful tips about running and the optimal preparation for your personal goals.
3. Allow sufficient preparation time
When it comes to the question of when you should start training, there is no universal answer. Decisive factors are:
- Your current fitness level
- Your previous running experience
- Your goals for the half marathon
If you are a half marathon debutant, you should start your preparation at least 10-12 weeks before the race. 3-4 sessions per week are recommended. If you have never run a half marathon before and don't have a specific time goal, it is sufficient if you have covered distances of 15 to 17 kilometers in the last four weeks. You don't necessarily have to have done the full 21 kilometers in training to be able to do it on race day.
As a more experienced half marathon runner who has done the mileage many times and now has a better time as a goal, you should definitely incorporate the half marathon distance into your training and combine it with shorter, easier runs, as well as interval runs. Depending on your goal, you might then be able to run a half marathon relatively easily and without much training. But again: If you want to improve your time significantly, you need a targeted plan.
4. The last days before the half marathon
Decisive for your success in the half marathon are - besides all the weeks before - also the last days before the race. These days are especially important so that the body recovers and is ready to start with as much strength as possible on the big day. That's why the rule here is: Less is often more. In this phase, also called "tapering", you should only train lightly and in no case run long distances, eat healthy, sleep a lot and relax. The big work is now done and any overexertion will worsen your running results, not improve them.
Again, when this tapering phase occurs depends on your running experience. This varies from 14 days before the run for beginners, to a week for more experienced runners. The important thing in this phase is that your body gets enough recovery time and can replenish the stores.
The right mindset, enough time to prepare and a good training plan: then nothing can stand in the way of your successful half marathon!