The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon is just 10 weeks away!

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to get started with the training.
Here’s a Beginner’s guide for those who’s attempting a half marathon for the first time.Get the Marathon Training Guide

To prepare yourself in 10 weeks for a half marathon, you have to be able to run 5km, three to four times a week.
The most essential element is to establish a running base. If you haven’t been running for a while or you’re just starting out, then why not get fit for a shorter run instead?

With four weeks of training, you will be able to cover that 5km, and you will be ready to do a 10km run if you hang in there for eight weeks.

The training program below is made up of the following components:

1: Regular runs

Run at a comfortable pace. If you’re training with a someone else, you should be able to hold a conversation while you’re running along – if you are unable to, slow down!

2: Long runs

Include a program with one long run a week, and a gradually increasing distance. This build-up is essential if you’re serious about finishing the half-marathon. Over the 10 weeks, your shortest run will be 1.5km and your longest 10km. Once you’ve accomplished this distance, you will easily be able to do the full 21 km half-marathon on race day.

3: Rest days

Rest is an essential component of your marathon training. If you don’t allow your body to recover, you will set yourself up for burnout and injury – the last thing you need with race day looming. Week 10 is the so-called taper phase, where you reduce your exercise sessions so your body can recover from the previous workouts. This will help you perform at your peak on race day.

4: Cross-training

Running heavily for 10 weeks can take its toll on your lower-body joints and muscles, not to mention put you at risk of injury. You can prevent this by cross-training – taking up aerobic activities other than running, such as cycling, swimming and aqua-running.

The University Recreation and Aquatic Centre – URAC ( runs regular aqua-running and cardio-boxing group sessions on most days which are excellent cross-training sessions to alternate between your running schedules.

5: Stretching

To relieve muscle soreness, prevent injury and improve your overall flexibility, it’s important that you stretch your calves, quads, and hamstrings after each run – especially the long run.
On the day following your long run, make sure you stretch every muscle group including your arms and shoulders – they, too, can become stiff from all the swinging while you run.
Hold each stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds.

Doing Yoga at least once a week will help with Streching too. URAC ( also runs regular Yoga Stretch Sessions.

6: Strength training

If your muscles are strong, your body will be better capable of supporting the areas that are prone to wear and tear from the impact of running, such as the knees and hips. Do exercises using your own body weight, such as press-ups, squats and lunges, or use free weights and machines at the gym. Runners are better off using lighter weights and doing more repetitions rather than lifting heavy weights. Strength training also promotes good posture, which helps even out bio-mechanical imbalances (i.e, putting more impact on one leg or knee when running).

Can I change the order of my workouts?

It’s fine to change the order of your training sessions to suit your work or family life – as long as you do as many of the stipulated weekly workouts as possible for the training schedule that you are using.

Where do I run and how do I measure the distances?

I have a GPS unit which tells me my running distance. If you don’t have one, pedometers are an obvious choice; they can be inexpensive, just make sure you calibrate yourself to the pedometer first.

It is important that you choose to run in an area that you enjoy, for example around a lake or along the sea.
You can measure the distance by car or bicycle and ask seasoned runners for tips on great places to run.
Changing the route also keeps things interesting

Where can I run in Wollongong?

The best place to run in Wollongong will no doubt be the Wollongong Bike Path which runs from Belmore Basin to Thirroul. The scenery is great and the path is marked out at 500m intervals so you are able to measure the distances. There is also Levendi and the North Beach Kiosk where you can get a Powerade recovery drink when you’re done with your runs. More information about the Wollongong Bike Track/Path at the url below.

Important note: Before attempting a half-marathon for the first time, it is wise to get the all-clear from your doctor, especially if you are over 35.

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