Some advice for key sessions building into the Poppy half. Each athlete has different goals, backgrounds, abilities etc so training has to be specific to yourself. If you are stuck and need some advice please do contact us.

Between now and the Poppy Half marathon please do get in touch if you need any advice or help between the coaching days.  If any of the points below are not clear, again, please do get in touch.

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We have put together some advice to assist you in your final weeks build up to the Poppy Half Marathon.  Obviously your running history and current fitness play a big part in planning the final 4 weeks.  Most of the tips below apply to all abilities.

1.  Long Runs
You really only have 2 weeks to fit in your last 1 or 2 long runs.  These should be SLOWER than race goal pace! These runs build your muscular endurance so ‘time on feet’ is more important that the overall miles covered.  For instance if you plan to run 2 hours for the Poppy Half then having built up to an easy 2:15-2hrs30 run at an easy pace will give you great endurance, BUT it is very important that you run slower than ‘Race Pace’

  • General rule is 10% increase of duration or mileage each week.
  • If you have been unable to build up to an over-distance run this year, don’t panic! Don’t be tempted to put in one massive increased run within the last four weeks, save it for the day. If you have done ¾ of the time / distance you will be fine for the race.
  • Your final longish run should be no later than 3-4 weeks from race day.
  • Better to be 15% undertrained and fresh & healthy come race day than even as little as 1% over-trained!  All races have a 15-20% fall out rate due to illness and injury.
  • No one ever thinks they have done enough training, we are all the same! Every runner on the start line will think they could have trained more or harder. If may feel you could have done a little more, but thats fine, save it for the next race.

2.  Key ‘Race Pace’ Runs
Do some key race pace run sessions leading up to the event.  These get your body used to working at the correct intensity. A few example sessions at your goal race pace are 5 x 2km  / 3 x 3km / 4 x 3km / 7 x 2km.

3. Nutrition
‘ Nothing new on the Day’ still stands .  The Body has 60-80 mins of stored carbohydrate depending on the individual conditioning.  At Half Marathon intensity you will be using fat and carbohydrate stores, running past 80-90 mins you do need to think about fueling during the race. The easiest way is to take one of the many Sports Gels.

Good Rules for Hydration and fuelling:

  • The body requires around 50-65 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise.
  • Requires a minimum of 500ml of fluid per hour ( even in cold, wet weather) This increases if the temperature is higher.
  • Hydration can have a massive effect on ace results so drink from the start.
  • Take a gel each 30 mins before the start, if your running over 90 mins then a gel very 30-45 mins
  • Remember just a1% drop in hydration has a 10% effect on performance.

Eating during the week or 2 leading into the race should not change, if anything cut back a little.  Overall training volume reduces so you wont need the extra calories.  As you are taking more rest your body will replenish nutrients and minerals etc.  Again ‘ Nothing New!’,  stick to you what you know, these are crucial weeks.

4. Taper Period
These are ‘ rest’ weeks leading into your race. 2 week taper is advised if you plan to race to your potential.  This period can have the biggest effect on race day performance, but unfortunately this is the main part of the training process that athletes do not get correct. You must have the confidence you have done the hard work, and that your fitness cannot be increased by extra training, so you must prepare for a big effort on race day.

General Rules for a Taper:

  • Reduce Quantity / Increase Quality
  • Overall mileage should reduce to 50-75% in the first week and 30-50% in the 2nd week.
  • Quality should remain in the sessions to keep the fitness high
  • Example session might be 10 mins easy run – 5 x 1km quicker than Race Pace / Intensity with 2 mins easy rest between.
  • These shorter sessions with higher intensity work keep you sharp and allow your body to recover.
  • All the running and mileage you would have done over the past 6-20 weeks causes micro-tears and damage to the muscles, if you let the body heal within the final 2 weeks with extra days off and less mileage you will feel light and Bouncy on race day!  Plus during heavy training lactate & aerobic thresholds drop so this taper period allow the adaptation period to take place and these thresholds increase.
  • Use the extra time / days off to stretch more or get a sports massage, or just chill!
  • It is a good idea to take the Friday before race day as a Day Off then jog out for 15 mins on the sat to warm the legs up and stretch.

5.  Race Day
Planning your day in advance really helps to keep stress levels down. If this is your first Half Marathon or if you do suffer with nerves then planning all the things within your control is the best way to make sure everything goes smoothly.  Arrive early on the day so you collect your number and timing chip, toilet stops etc all in good time.

Wear many thin layers so you keep warm and once you start to warm up you can peel off layers.  Try not to be standing around in a vest and shorts freezing cold 20 mins before the start.  If you have some spectators at the race remove your final layers off as you walk to the start line.

6. The Race
The key to your half marathon will be PACING.  Hopefully you have a time you would like to achieve?

  • Before the race day you should ideally know what this Goal time breaks down to per km and also per lap.
  • IT is so easy to run TOO quick for the first 5km and if you do then you will definitely pay the price in the final 5km.
  • Even pace running is the best way, if you have a little left going into the last 5km lap you will run your pb and pass many runners!

If you use Heart Rate for training and racing. Stick to your race plan and ceiling heart rate. Adrenalin may cause the heart rates to lift and wont feel hard early on in the race but stick to your heart rate plan and they will settle.