Getting started on your half marathon journey – a guest blog post from Martin Yelling

Photo of Martin Yelling running

December 2, 2013 // Rachel Ellis

We’re delighted to kick off the BATHALF blog with a guest blog post from Martin Yelling. Martin is a former elite athlete with a PhD in physical activity and health promotion who is the founder and co presenter of the UK’s number 1 running podcast ‘Marathon Talk’.

So, you think you’re ready for the Bath Half? 

Are you ready? Just how do you know? If you’re reading thinking, ‘I actually don’t know if I’m ready or not’ then here are a few pointers to get you started on your half marathon journey and keep you cracking on towards your goals.

1. Think about your aspirations.
What do you want to achieve from your participation in the Bath Half? Are you aiming to just survive it and get round in one piece? Do you want to run the whole way without stopping? Do you want to devote some serious time to your challenge and nail it in March? Whatever your aspirations it’s important to have thought them through in advance and considered them carefully as they’ll impact on the choices you make and your level of commitment over the next few months.

2. You’re already in a good place.
Even if you haven’t started to think about your training yet you’ve still got time to get going. That said, don’t leave it much longer. If you haven’t started before Christmas before you know it the New Year will be here and you’ll be a few pounds heavier with no training miles in the bank. If you’re already running, well done! All the miles you run now are setting the foundations for success in March.

3. Kick start your training with a good routine.
Get going with a good routine. Before Christmas the most important thing you must do is look to establish a routine of regular running. Just how much you do will depend on your marathon aspirations but finding a time to put it in your week really helps you ring fence your run time. Once you have the routine established, stick to it as much as possible. If you stop and restart it’ll be much harder in the long run.

4. Be consistent.
The most important thing between now and Bath Half Race day is consistency. If you approach your training like a yo yo – dipping in and out of it and coming and going your fitness will be slower to develop too. Consistency of regular running is the most important thing you should aim for between now and race day. One week of running won’t bring about a great Bath Half finish. Many consistent weeks put together will.

5. Display your Bath Half goal.
Stick up motivational pictures or statements around your house, on your fridge, on the mirror, on your car dashboard, on your office desk. Every day a reminder of the goal you’ve set yourself. Make sure one of these is your target finish time or your personal performance goal.

Training Plans. Just for pros?
Certainly not. A training schedule helps you structure your running and will provide appropriate progressions and workouts week by week. A good training plan includes all the ingredients you want in your training in the right quantities and at the right times. The key with using a training plan lies with making it personal to you. Don’t simply follow a plan but make it work for you. Make the plan fit for your lifestyle, work, and family commitments and do not try and fit your life around the plan! Don’t expect them to flow seamlessly without a blip. If you do miss some of the plan because of injury, illness or other pressures don’t panic and try to make up for lost time by cramming the missed training in and doing more. If you’re feeling tired, adapt the plan or go for an ‘easy’ run instead of trying to force yourself to fit in the workout and risk fatigue, injury or illness.

Try and find a plan that most suits your marathon aspirations, current fitness, time to train, motivation and commitment. Things may change mid-way through your build up and you may need to change plans, drop down to an easier one because of unforeseen pressure points or step up to the next because you got fitter faster or have more time to give to training.