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How to PR at Your Next Half Marathon

By Megan Harrington, Active.com

How to PR at Your Next Half Marathon

You've paid the race registration fees, logged the necessary miles and kept yourself healthy; now all you have to do is PR, right?

Running your fastest half marathon will take some effort, but if you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to celebrating a shiny new personal best.

Be Honest

First things first: Be honest with yourself.  Did you follow a training plan? Have you completed your scheduled long runs and speed workouts?  If the answer is yes, then you've got a good shot at a PR. 

Running regularly and preparing for the race distance are the best ways to ensure you run your fastest time yet.

Don't Overtrain

As you approach race week, respect the taper.  The days leading up to the race are not the time to squeeze in another long run or speed workout.  The hay is in the barn at this point; don't risk it by tiring yourself out.

Sleep On It

As race day approaches, make sure you're getting a solid eight hours of sleep each night.  This might mean saying no to social activities or having to DVR your favorite late night television show, but you'll appreciate having extra rest in the bank if you happen to toss and turn on race eve.

Rest and Relaxation

The day before the race, try to rest up as much as you can. If you're running a destination race, avoid spending hours on your feet sightseeing.

Visit the race expo (if there is one) on the early side and spend the rest of the day relaxing with your feet up.

The Right Race Fuel

As you plan your pre-race dinner, stick to low-fiber, familiar foods like chicken or salmon with a side of rice.  The last thing you want is to wake-up with stomach woes - or worse: spend time in a porta potty on the course.

Make Things Easy

Before you go to sleep, lay out your race outfit (including socks and shoes), race bib and anything else you plan to use before, during and after the race.  Having everything organized and ready to go will reduce stress and hopefully help you to get a good night's sleep.

Don't Rush

Be sure to set that alarm early.  In fact, set two alarms.  You can't PR if you miss the start of the race.  Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time (probably more than you think) to wake up, drink coffee, eat breakfast and use the bathroom.

Having time to compete your morning routine will ensure you make it to the starting line well fueled and ready to run.

Take Your Mark

Once you arrive at the race staging area, don't delay in finding your corral.  Some large races close the corrals 10, 15, or even 30 minutes before the gun goes off.  If you get closed out of your corral, you'll have to start at the back.  Weaving your way around slower runners and walkers will cost you time and hurt your chances for a fast time.

Start Out Slow(er)

After the gun goes off, calm your heart rate, steady your breathing and consciously reign yourself in for the first few miles; this is the time to be a little behind pace.

In fact, the first four to six miles of a half marathon shouldn't feel too difficult.  You want to hold back now so that you'll have energy to finish strong.

Do What You Know

Stick to the fueling strategy you used during your training ( you did practice fueling, right?).

If the race provides sports drinks and gels on the course, do some research to find out what brand(s) they will have.  Make sure you try out that brand on a training run to ensure that it will agree with you.

If the race is offering something you know will upset your stomach, carry your own in a fuel belt.

When to Speed Up

During the second half of the race, keep your mental game strong and try to pick up the pace.

This is when you'll likely experience discomfort, so have some strategies to help you push through the pain.  For some people, it might mean repeating a motivational mantra.  For others, it's a high-energy playlist.

Time For Your PR

As you enter the final stretch, now's the time to go all out and really gun for that PR.  Hold off on the all-out sprint until you have about two blocks or 200 meters to go; any earlier than that and you'll run out of steam.

As you cross the finish line, make sure to smile extra wide.  You just ran a half marathon PR.

 

 

 

 


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