New to the Half Marathon

New to the Half Marathon

By Laura Barreca PT, DPT

Let’s talk about the half marathon!

Are you considering signing up for a half and have never done one before?  Let’s talk expectations, half marathon training for beginners in NYC, nutrition and hydration, and race day shoes– many of the key factors to get you ready for 13.1!

First, let’s get into expectations and training.

Training for a half marathon isn’t easy, but worth it (I think!).  A training cycle can be anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks and even up to 20 weeks long for experienced runners.  A training cycle typically looks like some days of easy running, followed by a long run on weekends, and occasionally a running workout/speed day to be integrated later on in the plan.  The most important piece of these cycles is the long run.  Depending on the plan you use (a half marathon training plan for beginners, individualized coaching, etc.), you will build that long run up to the half distance, or just short.  Since you’ll be training at such a high level, it’s key to do your strength work for injury prevention and incorporate those rest days.  Building up to the race and putting in the work is all part of the journey and makes the experience much more worthwhile.

Next up is nutrition.

You should be utilizing fueling strategies during a half marathon and half marathon training in NYC.  Yes, that means eating!  Fueling during a race is necessary to allow your body the energy it needs to sustain the speed you’re moving for the appropriate distance.  In the half, we are looking at that 1-3 hour time range of time spent on feet depending on your pace.  This means about 30 to 90 grams of carbohydrates should be taken per hour.  Well, how do you possibly get that in?  For newcomers to running, this is done through the use of gels, a fueling source that is ingested while on the move.  A typical gel packet is ~100 calories with a 20-26 range in grams of carbohydrates depending on the brand.  This means that you can be taking one and up to four gel packets every hour spent running depending on the specific details of you and your race.  Gels may be provided on the course of the race you are running; however, it is best to bring your own so you can use the brand/flavor that you like and that you have practiced with!

Let’s discuss hydration.

We want to keep net fluid loss <2%-3% of body weight.  This can be determined by looking at your weight pre-run and re-measuring post-run to determine how many pounds were lost to sweat.  16 ounces is 1 pound, so we can use this number to figure out how many ounces of water we should be ingesting throughout a race.  Now, you might be thinking of the logistics of how to do this.  Some people carry water in a small water bottle attached to a belt and others rely on water that is provided on the course.  Check your race to see logistics so that you can plan accordingly.  Water is often given out in small cups measuring about an ounce.  Depending on the person, you may take in as much as 48 small cups of water throughout the race which may seem like a lot, so time to practice! 

The last piece is your race day shoes.

You can go simple and wear your trainers/shoe that you have been running in all along.  You may also have heard of supershoes and been wondering what they are.  These are another alternative for shoe wear on race day.  Super shoes are running sneakers that are meant to be run in at a faster pace.  Examples include Nike Vapor Flys and Saucony Endorphin Pros.  These shoes typically have a carbon plate that helps to provide a 4% decrease in energy utilization.  Super shoes are something that you race in and do a few workouts in before to test them out but do NOT train in them every day.  Super shoes are also built for specific pacing to maximize that full 4% decrease, aka the slower the pace is, the less magnitude there is for that significant energy utilization effect.  All the things to consider here so make sure you have tried your race day shoes, and are most importantly, comfortable in them!

 Alright, now that we have covered just about everything – check your race day weather, dress appropriately, and go out there and enjoy the day because you earned it by surviving the journey!

Half Marathon Quick Tips

  • #1: Take your rest days & let your body recover
  • #2: Practice your fueling strategies so you are ready on race day
  • #3: Figure out your hydration plan BEFORE you get to the line
  • #4: Make sure that you have run in your race day shoes prior to the day of

By Laura Barreca PT, DPT

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