June 8


3 Keys to Deciding whether you should Enter Cheltenham’s Half Marathon

By Conor Graham

June 8, 2015

Cheltenham, Cheltenham Running, half marathon, Injury Prevention, muscle soreness, Periodisation, Progressing your Running, racing, Running Faster, Tapering

Cheltenham’s Half is a great event for anyone considering their first half marathon, but be warned…

It’s very easy to enter an event through a lucky free entry or as a spur of the moment decision but doing so without being physically prepared can ruin any love you currently have for running.

1. Do you like the idea of Running a Half Marathon?

We hear friends’ stories of running a half marathon in all kinds of detail. Some will say they’ve done x number of them as if it’s no big deal which leads you to think it’s not. “If he can do it, why can’t I?”.

For some it’s a stepping stone towards the bucket list event of a full Marathon. A half marathon is a great event to take part in and with good training you can run it with the purpose of not just completion but beating the times of a friend or two.

If you like the idea of being swept along with the tide of people all aiming to complete the 13.1 mile course then Cheltenham’s Half can certainly provide that with over three thousand people expected to run.

2. Can you Make Time to Train for a Half Marathon?

As you approach the event you’ll need to run for 1.5-3 hours, once per week, depending on how fast you’ll be running. The long run is the most important training run as it’s the one which tells your muscles what they’ve got to prepare for. If you plan on finishing in 2 hours then you better be used to running for at least an hour and 45 minutes otherwise your legs will be “empty” well before the finish line.

Now you may think that it’s a race of attrition and that you’re prepared to put your body through anything. Very admirable if you’re running to save your village from certain doom but why risk injury and a horrible experience when you could prepare properly and make it a positive one? If there’s one way to turn yourself off running it’s putting yourself in, what I call “Survival Mode”. Survival mode is that state of being where all you can afford to think about is putting one leg in front of the other until you cross the finish line.

You cannot possible enjoy the occasion in Survival Mode. You’ll miss the scenery, the great costumes and most importantly the experience of sprinting past the person you’ve been tracking for the last half an hour of the race. You don’t need to be a competitive person to enjoy a sprint finish. It’s as close to scoring the winning goal as you get in the sport of running.

3. Do you have enough weeks to get the distances up?

It’s a good idea to get your running distance up to 18km/11miles a couple of weeks before the race. That is if you want to have a chance of finishing the Half Marathon with some energy to burn off whoever you find yourself next to in the final 100m.

From the diagram below you can see that if you’ve got 12 weeks till race day and have only run 6k/4miles then it’s going to be a fairly tough build up.

Half Marathon Build up Scenarios
This chart was taken from a recent Cheltenham Running Workshop “7 Elements of a Safe and Effective Running Programme”

If you’re planning on doing a few sub 1 hour runs each week in the build up to a half marathon then you’re not going to enjoy the event.


Conor Graham

About the author

Conor is the Head Coach and Founder of Cheltenham Running and Walking Club.

His experience as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Triathlete and Personal Trainer ensure members are educated on best practice in regards to training progression while also nurtured through the early stages of fitness development.

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