3 Must-Know Tips to Crush Your Next Half Marathon
I’m going to tell you the secret to running your best half marathon ever.
And honestly, this could apply to HOWEVER you want to define “best”, whether that is the fastest, funnest, most pain-free, least visits to your therapist during the training cycle, best costume…
(okay, those are usually the way people define “best” as far as I can tell)
Other than costume (you should talk to our front office wizard Laura about that), I can pretty much tell you the key to reaching all of those other goals: Not running.
Okay, not NOT running, but running isn’t the secret sauce. If you’re inspired to put down the work to do an event that might take you a few hours, you’ve not just come to terms with the work, but have learned to find your joy in the suffering. So, what you REALLY need to think about is cross training.
Okay, you can stop throwing tomatoes at your screen.
I know this isn’t the most glamorous part of the training cycle, and it is in fact the part that most people abandon first when the mileage starts to build. We are all busy, we all have lives, and on any one day skipping the mobility or strength work won’t kill you. But, if you go through a build cycle trying to run your way to your best fitness, you are playing a dangerous game.
So, here are the things to work on:
1. Core Strength
Not really strength - endurance. ENDURANCE. Ballistic, hi-speed core work can be helpful to get through your training cycle, but it really applies more to people that are running FASTer times or SHORTer distances. Think planks, not twists. Supermans, not sit ups. Side planks not ball slams.
2. Hip Mobility
This is relative - you’ve got to stretch out the RIGHT things. For folks around here, with our hilly-as-heck training runs you need to work on:
1. Hip Flexors
2. Calves (and your great toe!)
3. Your Mid-Back/Thoracic Spine
Almost no one thinks about #3, and if you don’t do #1 you might as well just give up now. A typical training cycle for a half marathon runner will rob you of your hip mobility by building shorter muscles (especially with all the sitting most people do during recovery), that initially are springier and help you push, but eventually get stiffer and can modify your running gait.
3. Mindfulness on Your Run
Make sure you are using your “easy miles” to loosen up and check in with your body, not think about your grocery list. You need to start compiling a “what does it feel like when I run well”, or “what does it feel like when I run fast” list or journal. Sometimes those two things are NOT the same, so paying attention to your body and the feedback it's giving you is a great way to push yourself with training AND avoid your physical therapist’s office.
You might be surprised what happens when you start implementing a few of these changes. More importantly, your running buddies might be surprised when you start leaving them in the dust…
Follow us through the Half Marathon Challenge series with Glory Hound Events for helpful hints and tips to run stronger and train smarter. We will help you learn to bend, not break.
We love curious readers at Anti-Fragile PT! Send us a message or comment here and we will post answers on Instagram, Facebook, or maybe even make a YouTube video to help answer any questions before it becomes a problem.
Stay tuned for our next blog post about how to ward off and treat tendonitis in your legs - one of the most common injuries that sideline people mid-training.