Thursday 25 December 2014

Preparation key as half-marathon countdown speeds up

Liz Costigan

Published 02/09/2014 | 02:30

Runners during a previous Mitja Marato de Barcelona
Runners during a previous Mitja Marato de Barcelona

So it's officially half marathon month, three weeks to go. I hope you are all feeling good and strong - and perhaps a little nervous.

This is totally normal; we all go through this, from the novice runner to the pro. Nerves are good. They show us that we are challenging ourselves beyond our comfort zone.

Growth happens when you leap outside of this comfortable place, so feel the fear and keep at it. Most of the time the fear is fuelled by the unknown, so I have compiled a list of questions I frequently get from runners that may help you to feel less anxious and more sure of yourself come race day.

How long should it take me to run the half?

If it is your first time to run a half I highly recommend that you focus on finishing and enjoying the experience. Pace can be your next goal! If you are racing the half, you will know your times from previous races.

What if I need to use the loo?

There are toilets close to the start line and lots of bushes along the way! If you're not focused on time and you need to go then go! If, however, you are looking for a personal best, stopping will not be an option. During your training be mindful of your bowel movements to give you an idea of when you 'move'. If you are prone to 'runners trots' try to avoid eating two hours before you run, avoid fruit, veg and whole grains. Similarly, dairy products can cause irritability for some runners.

My runners need replacing, do I have time?

At this point I would say no. You could chance it, but I think you need to be focusing on your training rather than breaking your new runners in. When changing your runner give yourself plenty of time to run in them.

Should I carry my own water or is it best to use the water stations?

This varies among runners. Decide what you are doing before and practice this. If you are running with water make sure you have done a good few training sessions with the bottle or fuel belt that you plan to use. If you are stopping at the hydration stations have a plan.

Are gels a good idea while running?

I recommend taking some sort of carb during the race as your muscles need to replace some of the glycogen that will naturally deplete during long distance running.

Should my diet change now that I'm training for a half-marathon?

I think this will happen naturally. As a runner you are going to require fuel to perform. I recommend runners eat a balanced diet including all of the essentials: protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. How much will depend on each person but the general guideline is:

60-70pc of calories from carbohydrates (grains, pasta, bread, etc.)

20-30pc of calories from fat (oils, avocados, nuts, etc.)

10-15pc of calories from protein (fish, meat, chicken, beans, etc.)

Your post-run snack should contain carbs and protein (ratio 3-1) e.g. slice of whole-grain toast with nut butter, fruit with natural/coconut yoghurt, try to consume this within the first 30mins after training. I also like to take Power Greens, a blend of green super foods.

The Run It Programme

You do not have to perform all five work-outs, three days is the minimum required. Please try to do your long run and alternate the other two sessions between your #100FITDays work-out, cross training or your short run. Cross is any form of aerobic exercise that allows you to use slightly different muscles than you would when running e.g. swimming, cycling or walking.

The Race It Programme

As this programme is geared towards improving your race time, please ensure you get your intervals done this week. Run 400m at your 5k race pace (fast), followed by 400m at recovery pace. Repeat nine times.

@LizCostigan

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