Sheffield Half Marathon – top tips for 1st time runners


Banana boost for your half-marathon (image by, used under Creative Commons License)

With the Sheffield Half Marathon fast approaching, we asked Chris Hough (@HoughboyRunner on twitter) of local running store Accelerate UK for some top tips or points to consider if this is your first time running the distance (like it is for Sheffield Live’s half-marathon virgin Calvin Payne).

Here are Chris’ 5 top tips:

1.  Have a Banana.  Whether for pre-run breakfast, during the race – or both, good quality natural carbohydrates like bananas are great. Bananas are easy to swallow, taste great and contain Potassium, Magnesium and Vitamin B6.  All very useful in aiding hydration and efficient running.  Green Bananas help prevent diarrhoea, which can’t hurt! Make sure you have tried out your race day food plan in training.

2.  Don’t over train.  If you’ve done the work, by now you’ll want to be into your ‘taper’ phase, which means doing fewer and fewer miles – allowing your body to rest and recover from all that hard effort.  This means you’ll feel fresh and ready to run strong on the day, rather than still aching on the start line.  At this stage, less is definitely more.

3.  Set off easy and build toward a fast finish.  Negative splits are based around the idea that for as long as possible you should run well under your threshold and build to a sprint finish as soon as the end is within reach, so you avoid running past your ability to maintain the maximum effort.  Try starting slower than your average race pace and increasing through the middle section, before squeezing that last burst of speed over the final mile.

4.  Hydrate in advance.  Days before the race, try to take on plenty of water/juice.  Keep away from Tea and Coffee if you can and allow your hydration levels to reach a respectable level.  Then avoid drinking too much first thing on the day, which will get you to the start line on time and not queueing for the loo.

5.  Don’t speed up to overtake.  You should resist the temptation to blast past slower runners.  Hold your pace and trust that you’ll pass plenty of people in the process.  Sudden speed is the equivalent of that sprint finish while you’re far from done and will cause your body to suffer massively later in the race.
Have a great race – good luck!

What next?

  • Stu Hale and Debs Smith of Accelerate UK were guests on our Business Live show on 7th March. Listen to the podcast here (available until end of April).
  • Sheffield Live! volunteer Calvin Payne is running the Sheffield Half Marathon this year – read about Calvin here.