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Training for a half-marathon is a big commitment but a wonderful achievement. As a runner who completed my first full marathon a few months ago, I can attest to the amount of work and pain involved in training. Throughout all of my running adventures, I have found that the key to successfully completing a half-marathon is to avoid injury—and have fun!
Below are a few tips to keep you healthy and to ensure that you enjoy running for the long-term.
Many events occur in the summer and fall, which means you will be training in the summer heat. Hot temperatures and the dry climate in Colorado make this prime season for dehydration and heat illness. To avoid dehydration on long distance runs, carry water or an electrolyte beverage and drink frequently. Another great tip is to try training early in the morning when it is cooler outside to avoid the heat!
It is always important to ensure that your shoes are in good shape. As a general rule, you should replace running shoes every 250 – 500 miles depending on the training surface and the shoe type.
Avoid doing too much too fast, like ramping up your mileage. I have seen many patients who ramped up too quickly, which led to a stress fracture or other overuse injury. The established rule is not to increase your mileage by more than 10 percent each week.
Be wary of overtraining! If you find that you are overly fatigued after runs or runs that you used to be able to do easily are now becoming more difficult, this could be a sign of overtraining. If this is happening, check your resting heart rate every morning to determine if your heart rate has jumped. Find out how to check your heart rate.
Don’t ignore pain! Pain is your body telling you something. If you are feeling pain, you should see a sports medicine physician before your pain becomes an overuse injury.
While training for a half-marathon, your body needs time to recover. In fact, you need at least one and preferably two days of rest per week. Additionally, you should consider “light” training every 4-6 weeks to let your body rebound from the miles that you are putting on!
It is very important to establish a training program and stick to it. To mentally prepare, you need to be prepared for some “bad” runs, however, you have to accept that you will not be able to stick to your schedule all of the time.
These are just a few half-marathon tips to keep you healthy while training for your big race.
Written by: Armando Vidal, MD, Surgical Director, Sports Medicine for Young Athletes, Children’s Hospital Colorado. To schedule an appointment, call 720-777-6600. We are happy to consult with parents or referring providers before a patient is seen at Children’s Colorado.