Setting your sights on a race goal, whether it’s your first 10K, half marathon, or setting a new personal record is a fun and easy way to put some structure into your running routine while keeping you motivated. And putting all that time and effort into training for this goal makes the success of reaching it that much sweeter.
Women runners face many of the same challenges as men when training for a race, but there are some key differences that often don’t get the attention they deserve. One of those is the menstrual cycle. You’ve probably heard of and maybe even tried syncing your workouts with your menstrual cycle. This adaptable half marathon training plan will help you adjust your running and strength training to your energy levels as they vary throughout your cycle.
If you’ve got your eye on an upcoming half marathon, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind before and during the race.
12 tips to remember when preparing for a half marathon
1. Preparation is the key
Start training at least 11 weeks before the race and it’s important to have a clear plan. Adapting your half marathon training to your menstrual cycle and energy level will help you get the most out of the different phases your body is going through.
Download the half marathon Training plan
2. Pace yourself
Don’t get caught up in what the other people around you are doing and how fast they are running. Establish your race pace during training and stick with it. You don’t want to burn out early – not in training and not when you race.
3. Tapering is important
Running more the days leading up to the race won’t do anything for your performance. Plus, your muscles have to rest before the loads of stress on race day. You should never forget to taper down your mileage before your race.
4. Stay hydrated
When you run, have a small bottle of water with you or wear a hydration belt. But if you’re using a hydration belt, be sure that you’re using it during your training as well and not just on race day. About 200 ml every 20 minutes or so will do fine. This helps a lot with blood circulation and cellular function during this tough race.
5. Proper clothing
The basic rule is to never try out new things the day of a race. Wear the outfit you have trained in. Select your running shoes in advance, dress a little lighter than the weather, try out compression leggings or knee-highs during your training. They will keep your legs from swelling and will help them stay vein-free. We like to wear compression leg wear for any running session longer than 5K.
Compression socks easiest to put on when you’re lying on your back.
6. Protect yourself from the sun
Cap, sunglasses and sunscreen! Make sure to use sport sunscreen with SPF over 30 at least. Apply the sunscreen at home 10-15 minutes before going out. Don’t forget! Sunscreen will protect your skin from early ageing and pigmentation changes.
7. Start number holder
First of all, it’s nice and handy and you will be able to attach your start number to your waist or your hips. This ensures it’s always visible to the fans cheering for you (they will be able to read your name and support you) as well as to the race photographers. It’s always easier to find your photos by number after the race if the number is actually visible, right? Second, it’s safer than pinning the start number to your T-shirt.
8. Small running belts
These can be really helpful, but be sure you train with them if you plan on wearing them for your race. They are fixed like a belt and you can put your phone and extra hair band in there and maybe even a small snack.
9. Think about your head
Put your hair in a ponytail if it is long enough or maybe some braids. You want a hairstyle that securely keeps your hair out of your face and won’t come undone. Use a soft headband to absorb sweat and keep hair out of your face.
10. Talk test
Carrying on a conversation while running helps you find a good pace you can maintain for the entire half marathon. If you can talk without gasping for air and your pulse rate isn’t through the roof, there’s a good chance you’ll make it to the finish line with that pace.
11. Walking takes more time
If you’re dying to walk, remember that it’s not a walk – it’s a race, meaning that distance is time. If you walk, the mileage won’t change, but your time and exhaustion certainly will. Get it done – you’re ready for it!
12. Consider race nutrition
If you want to use energy gels for convenient and quick energy, make sure to actually try the exact same brands and flavors on long runs before the race (not everyone’s digestive system can tolerate them). Know what and how much you need to eat at which point during the race and train your stomach during training.
These tips will get you race-ready for your next big event. Remember, women runners can really benefit from adapting their race training to changes in their energy levels during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Train well, listen to your body, and most importantly: have fun at your next race!