Running a half-marathon is no small feat (just ask any runner out there!). Weeks upon weeks of training are crucial to successfully complete a race injury-free and with a time you’re happy with. Follow YouBeauty staffers Julie Ricevuto and Amy Marturana as we train, interview professionals and address every running concern we can think of to prepare for our very first half-marathon on April 19!
You’re tired of running the same old 5k with your friends, but you’re still a little too nervous to sign yourself up for a full 26-mile marathon. By trying out a half-marathon, you can dip your toe into the big leagues, without having to go all the way.
We asked NYC-based Nike Master Trainer Holly Rilinger her best training tips for running your first half-marathon. What is a Nike Master Trainer, you ask? They lead the Nike Training Club workouts throughout the world and help train elite athletes in every major city. With only 12 Nike Master Trainers in the United States, this super athlete was the perfect source for all of our most pressing training questions. Here are her best tips for effectively training and totally crushing every single one of those 13.1 miles.
1. Follow a Guide
“Many highly accomplished runners have published half-marathon training programs. There are 12, 16, and 20-week programs that you can follow to work your way up to a half-marathon endurance,” Holly said. “Generally, many programs will have you running 3-5 miles most days with a long run at the end of the week. Typically, you hit your longest run of 12 miles two weeks before race day. Make sure to take one full day off per week and get plenty of sleep!”
2. Don’t Forget Strength Training
Besides cardio work, Holly suggests supplementing running with strengthening exercises. “I suggest a full body resistance training program for muscular endurance. Use exercises that focus on balance and target your entire body. This means, get off the machines and use dumbbells, stability balls, and kettlebells. A few favorites are kettlebell squats, walking lunges, planks and stability ball jack knifes”.
She also suggests focusing on muscular endurance using higher rep ranges (12-15) incorporated into a 30-45 minute weight training routine 2-3 times a week.
3. Proactively Prevent Injuries
If you’re worried about injuries, Holly recommends making a foam roller your new best friend and roll out glutes, hamstrings and feet daily. Also, “drink plenty of water and try to get a weekly massage.”
Thankfully, your weight training will also play a part in preventing injuries. “When you engage in any endurance activity you are actively breaking down muscle tissue, so it’s important to rebuild it in the gym. Most knee injuries are a result of poor hip function, which can include tight IT Bands (the tissue that runs from the side of your hip, past your knee), and weak glutes.” Both foam rolling and resistance training will help keep you injury-free for miles.
4. Prepare on Race Day
Good prep on race day is just as important as the week’s prior during your training. A great night’s sleep is Holly’s number one prep tip. She also recommends waking up and visualizing your perfect race. “Close your eyes and feel yourself running pain-free, effortlessly, and enjoying every moment up until when you finally cross that finish line. You have PREPARED for this moment so HAVE FUN!”
Additionally, Holly advises to make sure you are wearing the shoes you’ve been training in and nothing brand new. Eat what you have always eaten, and just breathe.
5. Believe in Yourself!
Ultimately, Holly believes the two most important parts of running your first half-marathon are having confidence in yourself and following your chosen program. “The hardest step is taking that first step. There will be days that you don’t want to train but focus on the incredible sense of accomplishment you will feel when you finish that race.”
Holly’s last and most important step is to “take small victories. There’s one big goal in mind; however, along the way you should celebrate your daily victories. Those small wins will light the way to your big dream.”
READ MORE: 7 Expert Tips for First-Time Marathoners