Sheffield half marathon, onward’s and upwards.
Sheffield Half Marathon
Onward’s and upwards.
Early March in south-west Sheffield and Ringinglow Road is busy with runners training ahead of the Sheffield Half, this year held on 14th April. Whether you’re stepping up from 10km, looking to go quicker than last year or gearing up for the next installment of a friendly rivalry, it’s now the last few weeks before race day. As April approaches the main task becomes staying out of trouble. Follow our 7-step guide to make sure you arrive healthy at the start line and not in the physio’s waiting room.
1. Review your goals
Have you been late to start your Half training? Hampered by niggles or winter bugs? Reassess whether this race is right for you right now. If you’ve not managed to run 10km (6 miles) or more in training yet, why not find a shorter race and go for the 21km (13 miles) next year? There’s absolutely no harm in switching your focus to something that suits you better at the moment. Or at least think about adjusting your goals for the race, for example an easier target pace or walk/running.
2. Build up the long runs sensibly
If you’ve managed 10-15km (6-9 miles) in your longest run so far – great! But don’t feel like you need to get to the magic 21km done by April. Work from where you are rather than trying to tick boxes and keep any increases in distance gradual. Everyone can always run further than their longest training run during the race itself.
3. Be flexible in your training
This one can apply at any time! Having a training plan is definitely a good idea but let this plan guide, not dictate. Every session can be adapted depending on your current fatigue level or any soreness. Knowing when to back off can be difficult and seems to go against every gym wall motivational quote or sportswear advert you’ve ever seen but remember that the most important thing isn’t to complete every run you planned at the pace you wanted or to run X miles training this week. Your end goal is the race and by pushing on no matter what, you risk causing damage that could prevent you racing at all. Remember to factor in stress from everyday life, too; a hectic day at work doesn’t cause the same fatigue as a tough training session but it still has an impact.
4. Remember the specific demands of this race
With some 300m of climb and descent, this isn’t your average half marathon. While most people will put some effort into training for the dreaded long uphill in the first half, what about the way back down? That long tarmac descent is tough on already tired legs and the fatigue can make it especially difficult to manage landing forces. To help build your body’s tolerance to prolonged descents, try mimicking the nature of the race. Start with two kilometers uphill followed by two kilometers downhill then build up slowly until you can comfortably manage the five kilometers up and down. On the downhills, practice taking shorter strides landing your foot under your body. This will reduce the load through your legs.
5. Work at your strength.
Building strength in the main muscles of your legs with help you both to power up the hills and to better absorb the forces of the downhill section. So a better performance and less injury risk! Try this 20 minute workout for runners to help you increase your strength over the next six weeks.
6. Be realistic
Nobody can transform themselves in six weeks and there are no shortcuts in running! Again, work from where you are, not from where you think you “should” be in a perfect world. In these final weeks there’s little to gain and much to lose. Your focus is best placed on maintaining and putting the finishing touches to the training you’ve already done rather than trying to make huge leaps in fitness - and pushing too far might tip you over the edge into injury!
7. Rest and recover before race day
In the last 10-14 days before the race, reduce your running time by 30-50%. This might sound drastic but by this point you won’t get any fitter or faster in time for the race. So no squeezing in any last-minute long runs! Include some efforts at race pace but keep these shorter than you had been running; remember you’re not building fitness now, just confidence.
If you apply these tips, you’ll give yourself every chance of arriving at Sheffield Half ready to rise to the challenge. Take in the views over the city, take in the encouragement from the crowds and enjoy getting out there and feeling the hard work pay off. Afterwards, take some more time to let your body recover - a week or two, depending on how used you are to racing half marathon distance. Then, however the Half went, you’ll be ready to run towards new goals.