10 Half marathon tips


This Sunday the Great North Run will welcome over 50,000 first timers, fun runners, club athletes and elites to the North East. With so many running events happening across the UK these days, it’s easy to overlook that this is the world’s biggest half marathon.

Started by Olympic medalist Brendan Foster back in 1981, mass participation running events have come a very long way since then. Running is on the up.

How popular is running?

In an analysis of England’s most popular sports, the Daily Telegraph’s website reported in February that running is now second only to swimming in terms of weekly participation. Cycling, football and golf occupied positions three to five respectively.

Although Brendan Foster might like to think that his brainchild is responsible for fueling rapid growth in running over the last 35 years, more recent events have probably had more impact.

Race for Life events, London 2012, couch-to-5k apps and the Parkrun movement have all played their part. These facts combine with the reality that Britain’s health is need of a regular workout and many of us feel guilty for not being more active.

Obsessed with shoes

There are other measures of running’s popularity. Nationwide sales of running shoes continue to set new records. According to a report by experts NPD, British consumers spent £600 million on running footwear and associated kit in 2015.

This is a whopping 50 per cent growth when compared to 2010 and there’s been strong year-on-year growth ever since. Did Sebastian Coe foresee that as part of the Olympic legacy?

When people first get into running, they probably use the trainers they’ve been using for everything and imagine they’ll be fine. By the time they consider themselves to be a proper runner (whatever that is), they may have developed a mild obsession for running shoes.

Running a half marathon is no easy feat, though it is within the ability of many people with some moderate training spread over 12 -16 weeks. For first timers it’s not a challenge to take lightly and many people work up to 13.1 miles by way of a couch-to-5k programme, a Race for Life or Parkrun, followed by a local 10k.


Timed to perfection

Anyone tackling their first half marathon may be aiming to simply complete the challenge. They are not easy but as with everything, the more you do, the easier they become. It’s at this stage that time becomes a consideration.

Paula Radcliffe holds the women’s British record for the distance at 1.06.47 while Sir Mo Farah needs less than an hour to complete the challenge. His best time of 59.22 is almost a minute slower than the world record of 58.23, set by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea in 2010.

But these times will be far from the minds of the majority of runners taking part in the Great North Run. Most will be focused on plodding around the course, smiling and waving at the supporters and maybe raising money for charity.

The team here at proto-col is gearing up for Chippenham Half marathon this weekend while many of our friendly customers are preparing for Bristol Half later in September. We wish them well.
If you’re tackling a half marathon this autumn, try these tips to help the miles fly by.


Tips for first timer half marathoners Tips for seasoned road racers
Sign up for a big city race where the support will help sweep you along Pick a race that suits your style to chase a PB
Start slow and find your rhythm – if you can, chat to others you around moving at a similar pace Start near the front – don’t get trapped behind fun runners
Slow down or walk to make the most of water stations then set off again to regain your momentum Plan use of water stations, gels and the offer of jelly babies, even if you plan to ignore them
High-five as many kids as you can – you’ll feel like a champ Know your target pace and latch on to other runners that are chasing the same time
Dig deep for a dash to the finish line – they’ll be a photo of this so smile too Use the last 800m to deliver a big finish – don’t cross the line thinking you could have gone faster



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