As one of the sponsors of the Cambridge Half Marathon, we've brought together our top experts in sports and exercise science to give you the best advice whether you're a first time half marathon runner or a seasoned pro. Signing up was the first step; with our tips on training and nutrition we'll help you through the rest.
The following training plan has been created by Dr James Johnstone our Deputy Head of Department for Sport and Exercise Sciences.
Dr James Johnstone
There are a few things to consider before you get started with your training. Before any training programme, you should check with your doctor that you are in good health and do not train if injured.
The starting point for training depends on your experience, current levels of activity and time to train. You need to be confident that you are able to schedule regular training in to your week as consistency is one key part of the training process. Building up regular individual training sessions which progress in a planned manner week-to-week will allow your body to adapt to the demands that are being placed on it.
If able, purchase a heart rate monitor as this will allow you to know how hard you are working and will allow you to correct your pace as needed during training runs. To develop endurance fitness, assuming you are able to run 4-5 km or jog for 20-30 mins relatively comfortably, you should be aiming to run at 80-85% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your (theoretical) maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220.
If we take someone of 40 years of age as an example it would work out as follows:
Running at this intensity, a manageable steady pace, will stimulate the body to physiologically adapt to the demands it is being placed upon it and become more efficient (i.e. fitter!). Adaptations to training occur over a number of weeks so it is important to train to a plan which increases volume of distance in a progressive manner.
One way to plan and progress training in an organised manner is to try to work backwards from race day. If you are starting to train from 19 December, there are ten weeks to the race in March.
You know that you need to be able to cover 21km by 5 March so planning back from this point may provide a logical schedule. Let’s use a hypothetical recreational runner as an example, who has other commitments in the week but can run 5 km comfortably a couple of times a week. If this runner is wanting to complete the race in 2 hrs, working at 80-85% of theoretical maximum heart rate, they could adopt the following plan:
The weekly model varies the total distance covered up to the race week. A few things to keep in mind when putting this plan into action:
|Week||Run 1 (km)||Run 2 (km)||Run 3 (km)||Total km for week|
|1||5||5||5||15km Low (L)|
|2||5||8||5||18km Medium (M)|
|3||5||12||5||22km High (H)|
|Race week||5||8||Rest||13km L (+21km)|
Nb. Run 1, 2, 3 are interchangeable, schedule your long run in the best position relative to your wider weekly activities
As a recreational runner there is no need to cover the full distance prior to the event, leave that for the race day!
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