Bath Half Marathon Training Part 1
Well done on taking the decision to sign up for the Bath Half (or maybe another run event)!
At the time of writing, the Bath Half marathon is just over 5 months away so there’s seemingly plenty of time. You’re probably not going to be running 13.1 miles today, tomorrow, next week or even next month, so let’s take a step back before doing anything rash and look at the things you do need to consider at this stage. Below is just my experience of training for a run event, feel free to take it on board, adapt or ignore as you wish…
Training – take it steady!
You’re excited about having signed up for the Bath Half, and it may be tempting to launch out and run a really long way just to see if you can run that distance. You’re keen to get out there and prove yourself. You’d probably manage it (even if you walked parts of it) but you are quite likely to cause yourself an overuse injury, or simply not enjoy it.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t increase your training load by more than 10% per week. For example, if you run twice a week for 5km = 10km a week, you should increase 1 of your runs the next week by about 1km, giving a weekly total of 11km. The next week, you could increase the other run by a bit more than 1km, giving a weekly total of just over 12km, and so on. Listen to your body though and check in with how you’re feeling – you don’t always have to increase the distance (or time) of course!
Ideally you should aim to run 3 times a week, so plan to add in a 3rd weekly run when you can. But again, don’t overdo it and make sure you leave a rest day between runs. Try and get into the habit of adopting the ‘80/20’ rule where 80% of your runs are at easy pace (chatting pace), and 20% are at increased effort (think about ‘effort’ rather than just pace as a hill training session will use more effort but will be at a slower pace). A run training session (hills or sprints) will count as one of your weekly runs and this would be a high effort run, so if you train on a Monday, maybe schedule your own easy pace runs for Thursday and Saturday, or Wednesday and Friday if that works.
The winter is a good time to test out your running gear and decide how many layers you do or don’t need, whether you need gloves, a hat, waterproof etc. You will also most likely have to train in the dark, so kit yourself out with a hi viz tabard / flashing lights (there are some cheap ones on Amazon) and maybe a head torch. Plan your route so that you are on streetlamp lit pavements and tell someone your planned route if going out alone.
The Bath Half marathon is a great event, but it is in March which means training during the winter months (unlike the Bristol Half which is normally in September = summer training). Remember you can only control the controllables: on race day it may be raining, sunny, snowing, windy – all 4 seasons in one day knowing the British weather – so don’t limit yourself by only running when the weather is being kind.
Without wanting to sound too pessimistic, there will most likely be a few setbacks on your journey to the Bath Half. You may pick up an injury (hopefully just a minor one!), you may get ill (winter colds, etc) or something else may absorb an unexpected amount of your time. You may even just lose your running mojo! Again, don’t panic, whatever it is has happened and that’s that. You will not suddenly lose all your fitness overnight, nor even in a week or two.
If you’ve had some time off running, remember to listen to your body and ease back into training gently. Dial down the distance a bit but try to get back into your schedule, so go out on the same days as before, but go easier / shorter to build back up. You may not feel you have much energy (especially if you’ve been ill) but give it a whirl and see how it goes – often you don’t want to go, but you’ll probably feel so much better afterwards (in my book, inactivity breeds inactivity). Your fitness will improve much quicker second time round so it won’t take too long to get back to where you were. Don’t be tempted to pick up where you left off before your injury / illness / time off, else you may end up (re)injuring yourself or getting demoralised by your slightly slower pace.
Motivation & Accountability
It’s tough in the winter to get out the door – as mentioned above, it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s raining whilst it’s nice and cosy and warm indoors, who could blame you? If you feel you may struggle to get out regularly, arrange to go for a run with a friend or with a group – chances are they won’t let you down and again, you’ll feel much better afterwards. Why not train once a week with us – there’s several sessions every week to keep you motivated (and improve your running!) along with fortnightly Social Runs @ Glasshouse to try out your new-found running ability.
Should I follow a programme?
With this much time before the Bath Half marathon (currently just over 5 months), you should be working on your baseline fitness and getting used to running and enjoying it, building up slowly. Don’t get too distracted by a strict programme at this stage – you risk getting bored by it and then throwing it out the window! Assuming you have a decent level of (running) fitness, then start a programme around 3 months before the half marathon, so ideally in mid-December (more on that in a future post…).
Running is pretty much a whole body workout – not just your legs! In particular, your core needs attention so aim to incorporate a strength and conditioning workout into your weekly schedule. You don’t have to be a gym bunny to achieve this – there are some great online workouts, either live or on demand that you can do from the comfort of your own living room. Or mix it up and go for a swim when you can, or a cycle. Again, schedule it in!
Finally…(at least for now!)
Training should not take over your life – nor become a dreaded thing – but it should be part of your life: get used to living with it and schedule it into your week. Ring fence the time and only let absolute emergencies take that time away – it seems to get busy in the run up to Christmas – shopping, parties (remember those?!), other random stuff that tries to hijack our diary, but be strong-minded and fit those things in around your running, not the other way round!
Running should not take over your life, but it should be part of your life.
That’s enough to take on board for now for your Bath Half training, keep going with the base training and get that schedule knocked into shape. More later…happy running!