5 Lessons That Could Help You With Your First Half Marathon
Event: Goodwood Running Grand Prix Half Marathon
Chip Time: 1.34.44
3rd in the age category V55
It’s been a long wait to run my first half marathon since February 2020.
No prizes for guessing why.
The whole world knows why.
So this article is going to outline some helpful tips for the 1st time half-marathon runner.
As I guide you through my prep and day.
My article Tips To Run A Half Marathon Successfully is a good place to start if you want something more detailed.
Why I Ran This Half Marathon.
I am tempted to say because it was there 🙂
It’s the reality over the last 18 months; races have been like hen’s teeth!
However, the truth is I am scheduled to run the 2021 Berlin marathon as my original date to run it in 2020 got cancelled due to a pesky virus.
So in effect, this 1st marathon was an early B race; however, in reality, it was a test to see how I had come through the last 18 months.
18 months that saw my hair salon business closed for 8 months due to lockdowns and my wife fighting breast cancer.
I noticed many fellow runners struggled with running in the weird times we were living through.
Part of starting this blog back in November 2020 was to keep me honest with my running.
Tip 1:Want To Hit A Target? Get A Coach.
I know many runners will cry cost here.
However, everything costs and what we spend our money on tend to highlight what we deem valuable.
No judgment call here, just stating running is significant to me.
I know my stuff in running terms; however, no one can see their own shadow, so to speak.
Off the shelf training plans, in my experience, can is adjusted like a plan with a coach can.
My coach Liam has formulated a plan for Berlin that has me progressing without me burning out, which is key for a runner in his late 50s.
If you have ever thought about an online running coach, Liam’s coaching company is well worth investigating.
You can even give the service a test drive for two weeks to see if it’s a fit for you.
Tip 2. Expect The Best Prepare For The Worse.
When looking at your first half marathon, you gotta approach everything from a perspective of positivity.. that you can do this.
However, shit happens, and it’s worth entertaining the question…
Like when I was putting on my trainers and pulled my sock up only for it to rip at the heel.
No spare socks.
13.1 miles without sock protection not ideal.
Ironically when I finished the half marathon guess what you got at the end as a gift?
Yep, you have guessed it a free…
Pair of socks.
I kid you not 🙂
Seriously the takeaway here is in your training, rehearse what you have for breakfast, what you fuel with and dink, what you wear.
Create habits and rituals that deliver certainty; however, paradoxically create flexibility so that when stuff goes south, you can adapt.
PS. I ran the half marathon, and my heel was fine; the trainers were trainers I had run in many times and were very comfortable. Not the time to wear new trainers, though next time I will pack a spare pair of socks !!
Tip 3. Don’t Go Off Too Fast.
This has been a bit of a problem for most of my running life; this was okay in my younger days; however, as I got older, going off too fast means things can get ugly quickly.
The problem with race day is, well, it’s race day.
Your adrenaline is high, and so is everyone else’s.
It isn’t easy to just run your race. However, that’s exactly what you need to do.
My plan for the Goodwood half marathon was simple.
Start slower than target pace. 7.30 for the first mile.
Maintain 7.15 for miles 2-10.
Last 3.1 miles, see how I feel and pick up if I could maintain the pace of the previous 9 miles.
So let’s unpack this. What this plan has is
- Start slower.
- Build into a target pace and get into a groove.
- Speed up at the end, however, if you cant maintain pace.
Now the main factor that will inhibit success with the above is going off too fast.
As it turned out, I still went off a bit too fast the first mile (7.06) however got into a groove and did not feel at this point in my training I had the kick to speed up, so the best I could maintain pace.
Here the stats…
I was happy with the outcome. The word I would like to share is I felt …..
In control of my race.
Yes, I was getting more tired near the end. However, I felt I was controlling the outcome.
Plus, I started to pass some people who went off quicker than me, which is always better than the other way round from a motivational point of view.
A negative split would have been great. However, the tip I would give anyone doing their first half marathon is to train consistently and rehearse your strategy; however, make sure on race day you control as many elements of your race as possible and ignore the elements that you cant control.
Tip 4. Have A Goal And A Goal For The Goal.
Hands up who loves a PB?
Runners love two things PBs and medals and oh goody bags.
However, for me, you got to ask why you are running this race?
Once a pbs achieved, guess what? Another PB goal comes along.
And that’s just dandy.
However, if you want to run consistently, then having a goal behind the goal is a wise choice.
So what do I mean?
Well, take my run in Goodwood; my overall goal for a half marathon is to go under 1.30.
However, my goal behind that is to be an energetic, fit and healthy 60 plus year old that’s a great example to my future grandchildren.
The half marathon time was only just short of my present Pb by 11 seconds was I, gnashing my teeth, nope because fact after 17 months since my last race the fact was I was still in pretty good shape after everything that had occurred in the last 18 months was good enough for me.
So my advice is to have race time goals but have something even bigger that pushes and pulls you through those inevitable challenges that life and running will throw at you.
Tip 5 . Get Strong To Get Faster.
While running around the Goodwood motor circuit, 5 times, you get time to take in all the different running styles.
Running styles are really like a fingerprint, unique.
However, as I have gotten older, I really have realised the importance of strength training integrated with my running.
Look on any Facebook running group, and the story of injuries are plentiful.
Now an injury is always a risk for runners.
However, reducing that risk is also always an option too.
The fact that many of us live lives that are except for our running quite sedentary, sat at office desks for 9 hours a day is little wonder added to our daily choices of footwear that inhibit our foot’s ability to be the amazing sensor mechanism for our body its little wonder injury risk becomes higher when we run.
So what can you do?
I found this is something I neglected in my lockdowns, I got out running, but my strength work was neglected.
I really started to notice more niggles.
So after lockdown, when I rejoined with my coach Liam, I have begun to integrate my strength training into my routine.
This is achievable with the system Liam has developed, as it’s just 3 10 to 15-minute sessions a week normally done directly after a run.
I start with just bodyweight, and once I get
I think strength training for most runners is going to be of benefit. However, I think for older runners, it becomes a much higher priority.
The only potential downside of strength training is overwhelming the body and increasing the risk of injury due to fatigue.
This is why I am such a huge advocate of Liams speed-strength system.
It enables you to gain the correct types of gains for runners while keeping the risk of injury from strength training at a minimum.
And, of course, ultimately increasing your body’s ability to cope with stress, reducing the risk of picking up injuries.
Remember them, those things you slip into your expensive trainers.
Sorry for the sarcasm.
No, don’t worry, I am not going to tell you to run barefoot.
However, what I would suggest is wearing more barefoot or minimalist shoes every day.
So, for example, when I am in my hair salon working, I wear minimalist shoes.
At weekends I wear minimalist shoes.
Do I run in minimalist shoes?
Why- Is a long story and better explained in this article Pros And Cons Of Zero Drop Shoes
However, in short, it comes down to the time it takes you to adapt to running in minimalist shoes.
However, while running around Goodwood, some of my fellow runner’s feet were hitting the ground with a loud slap that, let’s be honest, even with a maximal shoe, cant be good.
So looking after your feet will assure you pay dividends with your running in general.
Ok, that’s it.
Do your training, be consistent and don’t worry about being perfect.
Have a race day plan and use your training to familiarise yourself mind and body to that plan and you will be good to go.
I will do some more updates on my training and hopefully my marathon in Berlin or if I cant get to Berlin I will do the Southhampton marathon on September the 5th.