Getting into your Training Groove

December 11, 2017 // Rachel Ellis

With 12 weeks to go now before race day we thought we’d pull together some handy tips about setting goals and getting yourself into a running routine.

For beginners, or returners, it is still possible to train for the Bath Half from scratch, providing you are generally in good health. Break it down into 2 halves, the first 6 weeks to get from couch to 5km, and the next 6 weeks from 5km to 10 miles plus a taper week. Follow a structured training plan, increase the mileage gradually each week, include some cross training and stretching, and make sure you enjoy your rest days. The Bath Half is 13 miles, but you’ll be able to run it if you can get to 10 miles 2 weeks before. Don’t worry about your finishing time, just aim to get round and enjoy the experience.

Mixing up your running, using different pace, intensity and terrain will build stamina and confidence, and help reduce boredom. Beginners and returners should use run-walk to start with and a mix of low tempo (at a comfortable pace where you can still keep talking), threshold running (fast running at a pace you can only sustain for 5-10 mins), sprints (as fast a possible over 100-400 metres), ‘fartleks’ (a series of short 2-3 mins bursts of tempo running followed by 2-3 mins low tempo recovery), running up and down hills, and most important of all – mixing road, footpaths, flat surfaces, uneven slopes and cross-country.

Improvers and elite athletes chasing personal best times will need to follow more structured training plans including timed runs and warm up races.

It’s a great idea to run with friends or in a group – it helps distract and motivate you during runs, and supports you when you’re struggling. It’s also a great way to discover new routes and to feel safer when you’re running, plus you’re less likely to duck out out of a run if you’ve promised a friend you’ll go with them!

Training for the Bath Half in March will require training in the dark through the winter, so remember : be seen, be safe – make sure you wear reflective and high-viz clothing.

Your local ParkRun is a great place to run, or run-walk a 5k distance. For those of you who haven’t been to your local ParkRun (which happen all over the county at 9am every Saturday morning), then we’d encourage you to give it a go. ParkRuns are filled with runners of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities and they really do have an inclusive, fun and encouraging atmosphere. You can find your local ParkRun on their website

We asked our little motley crew of Bath Half HQ runners to give us their tips for getting into a running routine – we hope you find them useful.

Upping the miles

Rachel is our person of all things digital and she has finally decided to up her occasional 5km runs to the next level. Recently she has been training for a 12mile charity run. She says:

“Taking on this challenge has basically scared me into finally having running routine after years of dabbling with running.  The weekly or fortnightly ParkRun and an occasional 5km along the canal wasn’t ever going to improve my running, but it’s taken me a while to accept this.

Since July I have been running 2-3 times per week and over that time I have built up from being able to run (uncomfortably) for 30 minutes to now being able to run for 2 hours and managing to cover TEN WHOLE MILES!!!!  I am still slow, but I’m happy with my progress. My plan basically consisted of aiming for 2-3 runs per week – 2 x 45-minute runs and then one long run where I extend the amount of time I’m on my feet. Having achieved my goal of 2 hours non-stop running before the big day, I was pretty devastated to miss the event when I was struck down by a nasty flu bug the week before the race, but 2 weeks later I’m just about over it and determined to run the course with friends over the Christmas break.

I have a busy job and two children, so running often feels like it is way down the priority list. I have to be realistic – I’m never going to be a morning person and get the miles in before everyone else is awake, so I fit them in around my daily routine as best as I can. I look at my week ahead and work out what fits and when.

I’m trying to use time that I’d usually just be standing around like when my youngest is at football – I get a whole hour of running in then – and it beats standing in the cold. My eldest son has just started rowing for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning – so there’s definitely time for my long run then!”

Returning after injury

Mike looks after the technical bits on our website and is returning to regular running after a long period with an injury. He says:

My routine is simple – I try to run every other day. Sometimes just a couple of miles – sometimes maybe five or six miles. I’m hoping to run a half marathon in February. I injured my ankle pretty badly last September and just couldn’t run for months. Since returning to running I’ve been struggling to work out a new running pace – if I run at my old, pre-injury pace, it can knock me out of my routine as it can take a few days for my ankle to feel ok to run on again. That really frustrates me as I feel so much better getting a run in every other day.

I have been trying to run a little bit with my wife. She runs at a slower pace but we get to have a good run together and my ankle always feels ok at the end of it. There’ll be no PB in February, but I’m certainly in better shape than I was last February.

Running in a group

When Mel, the Bath Half’s charity director for the past 18 years, committed to running the Bath Half she realised that she needed to find a group of like-minded people to run with. She says:

“Finding a group of people to run with on a regular basis really helped me prepare for the Bath Half, ensuring that I was running on a regular basis. I ran with a women’s running group and we were all preparing to run the Bath Half, which was great as we had a common goal and we motivated each other. Running together as a group made it so much easier to get my trainers on, on cold, dark winter evenings.

We have details of local running groups on our website

Consistency and conditioning are key

Our race director Andrew runs regularly and believes that having a routine, or working to a training plan really does help. He says:

“Running a half marathon is a major endurance challenge, no-one can run a half marathon without pain, so you need to respect the distance and the challenge.

It is important to have a consistent approach to your training, and to maintain your own motivation. There will always be bad weeks, when you are ill or don’t run as many times as you planned, but you should aim to be as consistent as possibly. If you dip in and out of your routine or training plan then it will take longer (and feel much harder) to develop your fitness. There’s no way around it – training for a half marathon requires you to become a regular runner.

Running is as much about training your mind as your body, becoming familiar with your physicality and being comfortable feeling discomfort – your pain will become your new best friend and you have to develop tricks and rewards to compensate! The hardest part of any run is the first step out the front door, so I always take time to enjoy and ‘bottle’ the feeling of goodwill when I finish a run, and the ‘after-glow’ you get for the next few hours. I use this as the motivation to get out of the door when it’s cold and wet or dark outside. ”

And our last piece of advice that all of our team mentioned is – bank the good runs and accept there will be bad ones along the way. Don’t let the bad runs put you off your next run – every run feels different and your next one might feel like your best one yet!