The Two Oceans Half Marathon is right around the corner– exactly 6 weeks to go! That would mean only 4 more weeks of hard training and then its time to taper for the race. Hopefully many of you would of have completed a consistent block of training in preparation for the half.

My 2018 OTOM experience was a big highlight for me, not only because I won the Half Marathon but because I really enjoyed racing over that distance; the half-marathon is my favourite distance. I must say that if this is your first OTOM Half marathon you are going to love coming into the finishing straight, that was such a special moment for me as the crowd fantastic , definitely something you can look forward to.

With exactly 16 years of experience in this area I’ve come to learn that preparation is key to your success on the big day and the simpler the better! Here are my top tips and suggestions to help you achieve your goal.

1. Training

My Preparation for the Oceans Half Marathon last year included workouts which focused on: 1st phase – Mileage to build my base with the aim of establishing some consistency. The 2nd phase included: Uphills, turnover/speed (track sessions), Half marathon paced runs, aerobic long runs.

It is important to know what you are dealing with, familiarise yourself with the route profile and prepare for it. The OTOM half is a tough route, which requires you to pace yourself and run a sensible race. If you go out too hard you might not finish, so rather hold back in the beginning stages and finish strong.

Suggestion: Try and train on the route or incorporate it into your training. eg if it is an undulating course , do more hill and strength work rather than only training flat routes. This is beneficial as it gives you confidence and helps you prepare mentally as you know what to expect.

2. Nutrition

Ensure that your body has enough fuel to work at it’s best. Carbohydrates are very important and should be part of your Half Marathon nutrition especially before your long runs. Work out what works best pre and post race snacks.

Suggestion: This is your test period, see what works for you- If you using gels for the first time, try it out on your long runs first. Use your long runs to figure out what works for you, food and hydration-wise.

3. Recovery is key
Rest !! Make sleep a priority. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night during your training. This is especially important in the taper phase (2 weeks before the race).

Suggestion: Put down your phone and read a book before bedtime, that usually helps you fall asleep faster. Remember to take your magnesium before bed!

4. Trust your training plan
Remember like any training plan that exists: every workout, every day, has a purpose. Its normal to be nervous and to get cold feet, when this happens remind yourself that you have done the work and you are ready for this.

Suggestion: Don’t focus on others, sometimes people will talk about their training and even give opinions, that does not mean that will necessarily work for you. Focus on yourself , don’t allow yourself to get derailed and have FAITH in yourself.

5. Take care of your body!

Running injuries usually don’t come out of nowhere!I believe in performing regular maintenance on my body, as we do demand so much from it. There are various prevention methods you can try that will help, yes I know they are not a runners favourite thing but it needs to be done! Some include: massage, foam rolling, stretching , ice baths etc , spending 10-20 minutes on these very day can get you to the starting line injury free.

Suggestion: Learn to listen to your body- take your resting heart rate first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed. If its 8-12 beats higher than your normal resting Heart rate , you must slow down- you are either fatigued or on the verge of getting ill.

Lastly Enjoy yourself! If This is your first half marathon, don’t worry about the time, just enjoy the experience! It’s going to be hard, even if you walk some of the way, 21km is a challenge but crossing that finish line will be worth it.