The countdown is on to one of the biggest half marathons in the UK – Oxford Half. It is going to be a great day! Hopefully your training is underway, and if you haven’t started yet, then here is the nudge you need! Eight weeks to go is still a good amount of time but here are some top tips to help you with your training and prep.
Written by Steph.
Interval and Tempo Sessions
If we want to get faster, we can’t keep ticking along at a relaxed and easy pace. We need tempo and interval sessions in our plan to train our body to run at a variety of speeds and be able to cope with it over extended periods. An Interval Session consists of running fast for a short period of time in between periods of rest. During these sessions we will push the pace to an effort that we couldn’t hold for a full half marathon, but these will help us improve our pace range. To improve our tolerance for running faster for longer (speed endurance), we use Tempo Sessions. Here you’ll run at an effort closer to your half marathon pace but for a longer duration. If you can, aim for one of each session per week, but if you are short on time then focus on doing a week tempo session. Those longer reps at a more sustainable pace will get your half marathon ready!
A half marathon is a long way so we want to build up your endurance, so you are comfortable and confident with being on your feet over the half marathon distance. A weekly long run will improve your endurance and leg strength ahead of race day. The goal is to build up to a long run of 75-80% of the half marathon distance (note: we advise training sensibly and building up to this distance over time).
Follow A Training Plan
A training plan will set out your interval and tempo sessions and your long runs for you, and ensure you increase your weekly volume at a safe rate. This is important for reducing the risk of injury. It also gives you accountability to tick off your runs and embrace the variety of sessions!
Fuelling and Recovery
To get stronger and faster and avoid getting injured, our body needs time to recover and adapt. To aid recovery, focus on sleep, mobility work and fuelling. In an ideal world, we would get 8 hours of sleep a night. This isn’t always possible alongside work and life but avoid running on little sleep for too many nights in a row. Keeping mobile and strong will reduce our chance of injury so add a strength session, yoga or Pilates class or spend some time each week in front of the TV stretching and foam rolling. Remember to fuel properly before and after sessions. Avoid doing fasted runs and ensure you are getting carbohydrates and proteins in your main meals. Lastly, listen to your body and be flexible. If you need an additional rest day because fatigue is accumulating, then don’t be afraid to take it!
Practise Your Pacing
Use your training runs to practise your half marathon pace. Get the body used to running at this effort and learn how the pace feels. This will make it easier on race day to dial into the right effort, so you don’t need to fully rely on your GPS to guide you around. At the early stages of your training block, you might only be able to run 5k at this pace, but by building the distance week on week, your body will adjust and be able to cope for longer.
Focus on YOU
When it gets closer to race day, plan what time you want to go for and what pace you need to do to achieve this. On race day, stick to your plan and don’t get carried away by other runners around you or by what your training buddy is doing. If you hit it too hard early on, the second half might be a struggle. Be controlled and sensible in the early stages so you can build the pace and finish strong!