Preparing for a half marathon (21km) race

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Half Marathon season usually runs through the colder months but you should bargain on at least 3 months of training required, even if from a standing start. Literally, you are not running and then you run a half marathon 3 months later.

I have run the SMH half marathon and the Blackmores half marathon now a number of times in sub 2 hours, not a great time but OK.

As a beginner moving to intermediate running these are my half marathon running tips.

Half Marathon Training Tips

  1. Use a training plan

My plan was to run, nothing really more than that initially. But given how sore my bum and thighs were was afterwards, I would suggest you train, at least a little. There are a number of Apps to help such as Half Marathon 21K Runner Trainer or check out the list here. We like the ASICS and the “Couch to half marathon” App. Follow these programs  and you will do the race easily. They are all pretty similar and I ended up using the info from the App in a spreadsheet but that is up to you.

Allow at least 12 weeks (3 months) minimum to train. 

  1. Behave the night before

Try not to have a big night or do stupid stuff the day or night before. Instead, eat a bowl of pasta, red sauce or no sauce the night before and leave it as that. Save the Maccas and Kebabs for another day. Beers do not count as carbs, sorry. Definitely avoid the curries or a large steak and chips for obvious reasons.

  1. Carry some energy gels

When the going gets tough, suck on a gel. I suggest running the first 5-10km at least gel free and then no more than 20 minutes between energy packs, but read the instructions on the pack and drink water with the gel. GU gels in the strawberry/ banana flavour are the best of a really bad bunch.

  1. Test your running outfit

Wear whatever you are going to wear on the run beforehand. Don’t try new stuff, especially shoes and if you are wearing compression anything, wear them before for tightness for at least 2-3 hours. We highly recommend Lululemon. Costs an arm and a leg but lasts well, and is very very comfortable. Once you go Lulu, you never go back so they say!

  1. Sun Protection

Don’t forget the sun screen, serious. Make sure it is waterproof and will last for a couple of hours while you are sweating. In winter with an early start not too much of a big deal. Remember the ears and arms.

  1. Get a Spibelt.

You won’t believe me, but just do it. About $30.00 from Rebel or your local running shop and worth every cent. Put you gels, your iPhone, the kitchen sink and any other stuff you feel the need to carry in there. They sit well and can hold a lot. Don’t leave home without it when you are running. Read more here.

7. Sweating

If you sweat profusely, take a small face cloth with. Its light to carry and can help clear the sweat as you run. Trust us on this one. You may look strange but at least you will be comfortable. Alternate is get a cap with will drain the sweat so to speak. Try this before the run.

8. Avoid the chafing

Try Blister Bomber. Dab some on before the race and you will have no chafing. I guess you could use it for chafing anywhere really, up to you.  There are various other brands, this is the one I have tried and is also I think used by the military.

9. Trackers

If you are going to buy a GPS watch, Garmins are great, but that’s because I own a 620 and a Fenix 3. Tom Tom and Polar also make them. This is a personal choice. The Garmins have always done me well, and I really use it to monitor average pace, speed and time. There are a number of smartphone trackers as well like Nike running or “Map my Run”, in fact everyone seems to have one now. See a list or running apps here.

10. Shoes

Cannot stress this enough. Over 10km if there is an issue with your shoes it will amplify. I always run in neutral shoes, and the amount of cushioning is up to you. My current shoe cupboard includes Asics (Kayano Gel), Mizuno (Elixr and Kazan) and Hoka running shoes. Hoka have significant cushioning. Things to think about in your shoes:

  • Elevation or height from toe to heel in mm. The flatter the better for me
  • Cushioning, the less the faster I go, but the trade off in my case anyway is injury
  • Weight, At my level not really a big deal, they all are similar
  • Neutral or stability? Get this right before you run 21k


Take a towel and fresh shirt for when you finish. There is nothing worse than hanging out in your smelly wet running shirt with sweaty chicks mixing sweat.

So thats it, take it from whence it comes. We stand behind our running tips. If you use these, and can’t run, send all the gear listed above to us and we guarantee we will use them and run the half marathon on your behalf. Especially the Garmin.


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