Top Tips from the Reading Half Marathon training day

Top Tips from the Reading Half Marathon training day

Last weekend the Reading Half Marathon held a training day to get runners race ready. It was a very informative day with lots of takeaways whether you were a first timer or had run the distance before and wanted to improve times.

Here are my top tips from the day which I think will help all runners.

Tips from the @readinghalf training day for all runners, no matter what race you are running. Click To Tweet

It’s good to workout

Well I knew this anyway but it’s a good reminder! If you are a runner you can just run and not do any other exercise. But if you want to improve, get stronger, not have so many aches, then you need to cross train! And what better way to cross train than with the Townsend Twins who led us through a 30 minute HIIT session. The Twins come across as really friendly and encouraging and had lots of variations to each exercise to make it adaptable to the individual.

The workout was broadcast live on Facebook so we had lots of people at home joining us and the video is now available online. So if you have a spare 30 minutes that you want to use to help improve your running then have a go at this workout! But be warned, you might feel it the next day, I know I did!

Next was a talk by Ali Galbraithe who took us through what makes a good pacer and how you can apply this to yourself. Ali co-ordinates the pacers for the Reading Half Marathon so has a lot of experience pacing every speed! The good thing about the Reading Half Marathon pacers is that they pace by 5 minute increases, so if you are trying to run 2:15 you don’t have to try and keep up with the 2:10 pacer!

Ali Galbraithe taking us through pacing

Run your pace in training

You have to run your target pace in training, not just on race day. This is something I include in my training plans when I am coaching runners who are after a particular time so I was glad Ali mentioned it. The best way to incorporate running at your target pace in training is to include it in your longer runs. So if you are running a 7 mile long run try running the middle 2 miles at your target pace. By doing this in a couple of your long runs you will get more of a feel for your target pace which will help you run it on the day.

Know the route

Reading Half Marathon race route 2018
I’ll be studying the route very carefully

Make sure you do your homework by looking at the route and elevation of the course. You don’t want to be caught out by surprise hills that you haven’t trained for in the first 3 miles of a race! Use the route to plan your training runs. If you know there is a hill at the beginning of the race, as there is at Reading, then make sure you plan a training route that includes a big hill at the start of your run.

Bonus points – look at where the water stations are and the toilets on route so you aren’t caught out!

Break down the miles

Don’t think of the race as 13.1 miles. Mentally it is easier to break it down into smaller sections. Ali recommended splitting a half marathon into three parts. Miles 1-3, miles 3-11 and miles 11-13.1.

Hold back on the first section, don’t let your adrenaline get the better of you and more importantly don’t waste energy by weaving! For the middle section settle into your race pace, keep asking yourself how you are feeling, when you last had fuel and if you need to slow down. The final section is where you can start to push the pace, where you might need to be mentally tough but most importantly should be treated as the “party bus home”!

Stretching is not just for cool downs

A row of half marathon runners stretching against a wall
Calf stretch against a wall

If you are only stretching at the end of your runs, if that, then you are missing a trick! Jim Adkins from Berkshire Physio was on hand to explain how important stretching is to increase your range of movement and help activate your key muscle groups.

He took us through some stretches to do in warm up and cool downs that specifically helps runners and showed us some alternative stretches from the usual ones. He also suggested that if you are tight in one area you should consider including specific stretches as part of your daily routine and I am now including the hamstring slump stretch which he showed us into my routine!


I got some very useful tips from this training day which will be helpful as I train and if this has got you interested in running a half marathon this spring then why not join me and sign up to the Reading Half Marathon?

And if you are feeling lucky they are holding a competition to win some kit to help you train this winter.

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