12 Week Training Plan
Before starting any training for running the 13.1 mile Half Marathon distance, whether it’s in an organised race or on your own, you should regularly be running approximately 10 – 15 miles per week.
The below training plan aims to build your progression over a number of weeks. Frequency of training (number of sessions per week) and duration of the sessions are key to the successful completion of any race or competition. Starting your training early with short duration running is good practice. Training should then intensify up to 10 days prior to the race and then taper to approximately 48-72 hours prior to the race event.
A sound training schedule builds progressively responding to adaptation and overload, on the body, over a number of weeks. Frequency of training (number of sessions per week) and duration of the sessions are key to the successful completion of any race or competition. Starting your training early with short duration running is good practice. Training should then intensify up to 10 days prior to the race and then taper to approximately 48-72 hours prior to the race event. Therefore athletes, or beginners, should aim to do an equivalent 13.1 mile distance approximately 10 days before the race and then allow the body to recover for 48hours before performing light exercise up to 48 hours before the race. If this is managed, with a suitable hydration and nutrition schedule, the athlete should be well prepared for the event.
Stretching is an imperative part of any training schedule and injury prevention routine. Most individuals are aware that stretching before playing any sport is important but so is stretching post the event. Similarly most individuals believe that static stretching is useful, and rightly so, but dynamic stretching is something to include pre event whilst the static stretching is something to consider post-event. Stretch all the muscles and tendons around every joint pre event using simple and controlled dynamic movements. Replicating the movement through dynamic stretching eg. leg swings, not only helps to stretch the muscles around the knee and hip but also begins to get the whole limb prepared for the movement to be experienced throughout the race. As the bulk of the movement in your run will be lower limb then the focus on dynamic stretching should be around the ankle, knee, hip and lower back so steady dynamic movement around those joints is a positive consideration. The dynamic movement also aids in the whole warm-up process via blood circulation. Post event static stretches, holding each stretch for 8-10 seconds, is also imperative to help reduce stiffness that may occur 48-72hours after the event. The dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can be alleviated, to a certain extent, by stretching periodically every 2-3 hours post event. Being disciplined in this way can reduce the pain associated with DOMS and return the athlete/competitor to full pain-free movement quicker.
The Importance of Hydration
Good hydration and nutrition go hand in hand in all exercise and sporting activities, however the body’s ability to metabolise fluid is normally much quicker, and easier, therefore allowing the opportunity to not only hydrate but to gain an energy boost. Good hydration helps regulate your body temperature, transports nutrients around the body providing energy to the muscles and keeps joints supple. Poor hydration results in poor performance and you can experience fatigue, muscle cramps and dizziness. There is not definitive amount of fluid required to keep hydrated during exercise as everyone is different however there are a few tips below that will help keep you hydrated during training and racing.
- Like exercising you need to train the body to be able to ingest and utilise fluid intake during activity – practice drinking and running during your training sessions;
- Start drinking water 2-3hrs prior to exercise and consume about 500-600mls at this time;
- Consume around 220mls, approximately one cup full, of water about 20-30 minutes prior to racing/exercising eg. when warming up;
- If you feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated – drink small amounts regularly, i.e. 100-150mls (approximately 2 mouthfuls) every 10-15mins throughout your training and racing;
- Be aware of the environmental temperature, wind and humidity as this will affect your rate of losing water…if in doubt drink more regularly eg. every 10minutes;
- If running in ‘fancy dress’ drink more often
- When you sweat you lose nutrients as well as fluid. The key nutrient to replace is potassium….so if using an energy drink check the drink has potassium in its nutrient content;
- If running for longer than an hour then mixing water intake with an energy drink, high in potassium, reduces the onset of fatigue and helps you run for longer;
- Avoid drinks that are high in caffeine prior to, during and immediately after running, especially if you are running for a long time eg. over an hour;
- When you have finished racing or training ensure you drink around one cupful of water (220ml) within 30minutes, then drink as required thereafter. Mixing water with energy drinks high in good nutrients is the most effective way to rehydrate after exercise.
Appropriate hydration, nutrition, warm-up, cool-down, footwear, stretching (pre and post; dynamic and static) and progressive training are all key elements to a successful and injury free experience of a running event. Never run a competitive event wearing new footwear. Although this may make you look good, one of the most common injuries preventing event completion are ‘blisters’ as the foot, sock and shoe find their natural grove and movement. This causes skin irritations such as blisters. Train with the new shoe within your training schedule and do this steadily. A good training schedule can not only train the body but can train the shoe/sock/foot interaction. Cramp is another common injury condition that prevents completion. Progressive training helps to ‘educate’ the body on the physiological demands of any sport and most notably road racing. Preventing cramp is based around the body replacing fluids as and when they are lost so hydration is a key factor. If you find yourself thirsty, as you are completing the event, then the body is already de-hydrated so small regular fluid intake is the best practice and will prevent the ‘thirst factor’. Research suggests 125-175ml of water/fluid every 7-12 minutes will help the body maintain a balanced fluid level (depending on the environmental conditions). A warm day will require a higher frequency of fluid intake not quantity at any one…so small amounts regularly is the key. One final point, linked to hydration and cramp, is clothing. Some individuals could be running the event for a charity and may therefore ‘dress-up’ in a heavy fabric costume on the day. Please ensure that you do some form of training wearing the full costume so that the body can start to adapt to this additional demand.
Sport Therapy & Rehab Clinic
The Sports Therapy & Rehabilitation Clinic based at The University of St Mark & St John is specifically concerned with the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of our clients back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports-specific fitness, regardless of age and ability. Open to the public, this is a dedicated therapy and rehabilitation learning environment for students undergoing their final year on our accredited BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy and BSc (Hons) Rehabilitation in Sport and Exercise degree programmes.
We offer a range of treatment options including soft tissue therapy, taping and bracing, electrotherapy and exercise based rehabilitation and we have access to regularly maintained, cutting-edge equipment. Our price per session is £12.50 and we are open Monday – Friday at various times, including most evenings.
To find us please come to The University of St Mark & St John Sports Centre. If you have any queries or would like further information please contact the Clinic Manager Lisa Moore on 01752 636836 or email email@example.com.
If you haven’t taken any form of regular exercise you are strongly advised to see your doctor before embarking on competing in this challenge.
If you have a medical condition or you are on medication please either;
1. Put all the details on the reverse of your race number, along with emergency contact number. There is a prepared template on the reverse. Also put a cross on the front of your number.
2. Send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org we can pass this on to our Medical Manager. This data will not be shared with any other third party.
You can find other useful information out on www.runnersmedicalresource.com this site provides information on training programmes, hydration and lots more.