Tips For Racing a Half Marathon
Many runners will agree that racing a half marathon is unlike any other running event. Not short and sweet like a 5k, but also not slow and steady like a marathon, the half marathon is an entirely different beast that must be treated accordingly. Here are some tips for racing a half marathon.
Don’t Call it “Just a Half”
When a half marathon is part of a longer event, such as a marathon, runners often sell themselves short by comparing their accomplishments to those of the competitors running the longer distance. A half and a full marathon are two different entities, and each demands respect. Go into the race with the mindset that what you are doing is just as hard, if not harder, than the full marathon and compete with confidence.
Set a Goal Pace and Stick to it (for at least the first 5k)
Before you arrive to the starting line determine a goal pace and hold yourself to staying on track for at least the first 5k. Find others who are planning to run that pace and hold each other accountable. Once you are past 5k, reassess and determine whether you feel like speeding up or slowing down.
Don’t Be Afraid to Hurt
The beauty of the half marathon is that you have plenty of room to experiment with racing strategy. Once you are past the half way point of the race, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try picking up the pace a little bit. You will be surprised of what your body is capable of achieving.
Run the Last 3.1 Like a 5k
After running 10 miles, knowing you “only” have 5k to go can sound like the most amazing thing in the world. Mentally hit reset and treat the final 5k like it’s “just” a 5k race. In fact, this is the strategy of many elite runners: to treat the first 10 miles as a warm up tempo and then let the real race begin with 5k to go.
Do not neglect the necessity of fuel during a half marathon. Many people mistakenly believe that the intake of hydration, electrolytes, and carbohydrates during the race is not as important since it is a shorter race than the marathon. However, any time you are exercising for more than 75 minutes, carbohydrates are necessary. Plan out your water and aid stations in advance, and determine how many calories you need to consume in order to maintain a constant energy level throughout the race.
Look for Tangents
Running the tangent (the shortest distance between two points when rounding a curve) is not going to make or break a 5k or 10k but can save you from running many additional steps when the race is 13.1 miles or longer. Always make sure you are running the shortest path possible and avoid blindly following packs of runners. If the course is particularly winding, drive the route the night before and mentally set up how you will run the tangents.
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