21.09km may seem unimaginable at first to the novice, but you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll be able to run the distance if you follow some simple guidance.
Here's the low down for aspiring half-marathoners:
Get the right kit
Almost all running experts emphasise this point before any other: purchase some proper running shoes. These are specially designed for the sport and are cushioned to lessen the impact of all that heavy pounding your feet will be doing. Don't skimp on these. Additionally, invest in some reflective running gear to ensure you’re seen in the dark.
Get your timing right
When it comes to formulating a training schedule, allow plenty of time to gradually build up and recover in between. You should aim to train about three times per week. We recommend a 12-week half-marathon training plan, so grab your calendar and work out those dates.
Stick to a training plan
Build up slowly if your fitness level is low. Start by walking for ten to 30 minutes, then, once you feel comfortable, include some gentle jogs into the walk. This is called interval training. This technique can help increase endurance while minimising the chance of injury caused by over-stretching.
Aim to jog for 30 seconds and walk for one minute alternately, for the duration of your session. Build this up slowly over the weeks until the runs outlast the walks and you can eventually remove the walking all together.
Have a goal
It's always a good idea to set a goal. It gives you something to aim for, even if it’s simply to run two kms without stopping. The sense of achievement is unparalleled. Then set yourself another and write up your progress in a training journal. You'll be amazed how far you've come.
Don't be afraid to stop
Running can be exhausting so don’t be afraid to stop and rest for a while before pounding the streets again.
Practice at the gym
Running on the treadmill is a great way to build up your stamina and still counts towards your training, as does any other form of regular exercise which has your heart pumping for a sustained period, be it Zumba, dancing, spinning, swimming or a full gym work out. It’ll also stop boredom creeping in.
Rest, rest and rest
Once you start to notice your body respond positively to all of your training (well done, you!), the temptation is to run every night for fear of losing your new found fitness. Don't. It's important that you rest as your body needs time to recover and adjust. Never train more than two days consecutively.
Assuming you're not an elite runner, the chances are you signed up for the run as a way to get fit and raise money for a charity close to your heart. Therefore, enjoy yourself and don't take it too seriously. There’ll be spectators cheering you on, people in fancy dress, bands playing motivational music so lap up the atmosphere and have fun.
And just to motivate you further, the average person burns off 300 calories during a half hour run which equates to about 900 calories for a half marathon. So at the end of the race you’ve the perfect excuse to reward yourself with a slap-up meal.