How should beginners train for a marathon?

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

Find your marathon

For those raring to go ahead of marathon day, this post will give you the lowdown on everything you need to get through your marathon-whether it’s your first or you’re prepping for a PB.

So, how long does it take to train for a marathon?

Generally speaking it can take anywhere between 12 to 24 weeks to train for a marathon–depending on your fitness level and how regularly you already run. 

There are plenty of marathon training plans out there, but to begin with it can all seem very overwhelming. 

Your first step is to decide on your goals and work out whether they are attainable. Do you currently run 3 days a week? Then don’t choose a training plan that wants you to be running 6 days a week–your body will be overwhelmed with all the extra mileage and you’ll most likely get injured. 

While you’ll be excited to start running further distances, try to trust the process and listen to your body. The risks of not increasing your mileage sensibly could end in a trip to the physio and your marathon plans in the balance. 

To avoid this, make sure to book your marathon well in advance and set aside a good few weeks of light, easy running to begin to increase your mileage before starting your training plan. 

TOP TIP:  When building up your mileage you should be increasing it by 10% each week at the very most. This is so your body can acclimate to the extra strain of the added distance.  If you’re a complete beginner, try to book your marathon 6 months to a year in advance to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare. 

Do I need to run the marathon distance before I run a marathon? 

This one’s completely up to you, but most coaches and training plans strongly advise against it. If you’re aiming for a specific time (especially if it’s not your first marathon), the most you may want to run in training is around 22-24 miles.

How to pace for a marathon 

One thing you definitely should be doing is running at your marathon goal pace.

For example, if you want to run the marathon in 4 hours, you should be adding marathon pace mileage into your runs in accordance to that time. 

A good way of doing this is to add pacing into your longer runs. For example you could run 1 hour at an easy pace with the last 30 minutes at your goal marathon pace. This type of run is a great way to prepare your body and acclimatise to the pace that you’ll be aiming for during the race. 

Do I need to be running races in the lead up to a marathon?

It’s a great idea to get a feel for racing before you tackle a marathon race.

If you’re following a 16 week training plan, it’s worth racing once a month as you slowly increase your distance. The week of your races you should be aiming to run less distance to ensure you’re ready for the higher intensity of the race..

For example after the first 4 weeks, you could try your local park run or a 5k race. Experiencing multiple race days will help get your legs prepared for running longer distances at your goal marathon pace (or faster if you’re having a good day!) and your mind prepped for dealing with the excitement of the day. 

After your 5k race you can then begin to increase your mileage further for 3 weeks and then tackle a 10k race

You can treat these races as a rehearsal for your marathon in more ways than just aiming for a higher intensity workout. You’ll get used to running in a crowd, pick up tricks for establishing your toilet routine, work out how your body functions on long and exciting runs, and learn what pre-race fuel works well for you.

Half marathon training runs

A perfect way to test out your fueling is by doing a half marathon. A half marathon is the perfect distance and duration for testing out how to fuel well during a race, as most guidance suggests that you should be eating on any run above 12k.

What fuel do I need to use during a marathon?

During a marathon, nutrition is key. You should be practicing fuelling correctly on training runs as well as in your races leading up to the marathon

A general rule of thumb in a marathon is to start fueling 1 hour into your race, and then every half an hour after the first hour. Remember everyone is different and it is up to you to decide how much fuel you need.

What to eat during a half marathon

Many runners use electrolyte gels. Gels contain a high concentration of carbohydrates and sugars to keep you going. There are plenty of brands out there to try, and best of all you can fit two or three in a running bum bag or a zipped pocket in your running shorts. 

If you don’t like gels there are plenty of alternatives, such as sweets as well as nutritional snacks like nuts that work in the same way. Ultimately, everyone is different, so it’s essential to make sure you test out your fuel to see what works. 

Ultimately, whether you’re taking on your first or fiftieth marathon, it’s an incredible achievement and a truly memorable experience. By preparing and thinking about your mileage, training plans, nutrition and race technique, you’ll help to make sure you can get the most out of your marathon experience.

Happy training!

Pacing London Marathon|||Pacing band

Pacing London: what it's like to pace London Marathon

You don’t need to be a fast runner to work at Let’s Do This, but that doesn’t stop Let’s Do This data scientist, Simon Wright, from running sub 3 hour marathons in his spare time.

You don’t need to be a fast runner to work at Let’s Do This, but that doesn’t stop Let’s Do This data scientist, Simon Wright, from running sub 3 hour marathons in his spare time.

A 2:53:20 marathoner, triathlete and enthusiastic orienteer-er, Simon added yet another string to his bow this month when he paced the 2022 London Marathon.

Read on to hear from Simon himself about his experience as a London Marathon pacer – and how you could get involved too!

Becoming a London Marathon pacer

I like running. But I love maths*. So maybe it’s unsurprising that I found myself drawn to the prospect of pacing for races. 

I first got involved in pacing very informally last year, pacing a couple of my colleagues to 10k PBs. After that, I decided to give it a go officially this year at the London Landmarks Half Marathon, managing to soak up the atmosphere while leading around a hardy band of 20 runners to a 1:45 finish. And what better place to look to replicate that feeling than at the London Marathon?

In June, I found out that I’d been selected to pace the race at 3:15, the top end of my three suggested times, which would be a challenge!

So, what is pacing?

The premise is very simple: it’s very common for runners to get very excited on the day of a big race and fly off the line.

Wouldn’t it be great not to have to worry about a burst of adrenaline threatening your race from the off? That’s where pacers come in, to run a consistent pace for the whole race to give you one less thing to worry about.

Preparing to pace

In the run-up to the race, I tuned up with some practice pacing at Wimbledon Common parkrun (mostly successfully!) and then again at The Big Half, getting some experience pacing in a crowded atmosphere.

The most important thing is to make sure you hit the splits. Not going faster than the splits, not “banking time” in case things go wrong, but running at almost exactly the target split the whole time. I did a lot of 6-8 mile runs at this target pace to try and lock in that feeling, so it would be natural on race day.

Race day

Race morning was a 5:30am start. Despite the fact that I had to be at the start earlier than most, there were still plenty of other nervous-looking runners eating breakfast on the train to Blackheath. I went for two bagels with peanut butter and a banana, which is nothing new for me on race day, just slightly more than normal!

By 8am all 76 pacers were congregated in a function room in a hotel to talk through the final bits of logistics. We’d been told to be quiet on the way there as people in the hotel might be asleep, but I think the steel drummer at the front door had already taken care of that! All that was left to do was pick up our flags and our lifelines: the pacing bands (a piece of paper with the split time at every mile) and a 5k board to wear round our wrist to check our progress. Even my maths gets a bit suspect when tired at mile 24!

Pacing band

It wasn’t until I walked to the start that I appreciated the vastness of the event. Over 40,000 people from all over the world at the start line, all nervously waiting to take on the same 26.2 mile challenge, hoping that the forecast wind and rain wouldn’t materialise. After a paradoxically short wait that felt like forever in the pen finding a small crew who were in for 3:15, we were off. 

Ready, set, pace!

Strangely, the first couple of miles are a couple of the hardest when pacing – it’s very easy to get swept along with the adrenaline of the masses!

This is particularly true in London as there’s a decent downhill section in the first three miles, so you can get well ahead of schedule. There were no issues this time, getting into the habit of checking the watch at the mile board – 11 seconds ahead at 4 miles, perfect.

The first half of the race was spent chatting to the runners who were following us, most of them raising money for various charities, ticking off the miles and soaking in the atmosphere around Greenwich, Rotherhithe, and the crowd on Tower Bridge. 

After we came through half-way 35 seconds up–just as planned–we saw the elite men come the other direction. You can’t help but feel a surge of energy from how quickly they’re still going, 22 miles in! 

Sadly over the next 8 miles, most of our original pace group dropped off one by one, still running fantastic times but not quite able to hold the pace. It’s one of the hardest things about pacing, you have to keep going exactly on schedule, and can’t adjust to help people who you’ve been running with for the past 2 hours.

The last 5 miles of the London Marathon are spectacular. I was lucky enough to run the Boston Marathon earlier this year, and the crowds at London may have been even bigger and louder than there. It seemed there was constant noise from Tower Hill, down the Embankment and carrying everyone the whole way to the finish line. 

Personally it was quite nice to have worked hard but not feel on the absolute limit in the last few miles, soaking it all in as I picked up a few runners who had faded a bit in the middle but were finishing strong.

I crossed the line in 3 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. 

It’s always a relief to stop the watch on the line and realise you’ve managed to pace the race well. Afterwards I managed to catch up with a couple of the runners who had been in the group for the first couple of hours who had still managed to run big Personal Bests – this is why we pace!

How to get into pacing

I’d highly recommend pacing as a totally unique way to experience events. 

It’s not quite as tiring (at least not physically) as racing and often you get even more of the atmosphere – mainly because you’re so identifiable and the crowd love cheering for the pacer! It’s also a great way to meet and speak to lots of interesting runners.

Pacing is for everyone – at London there were pacers for finish times from 3 hours through to 7 hours 30 minutes. Provided you can keep going at the pace and you’re friendly and encouraging to everyone around you, you can be involved! 

If you are interested,  there are sites you can volunteer with that provide pacers for races across the country. Alternatively, Google events you're interested in racing and see if they have pacer opportunities.

As for me, I’m hoping to race the 2023 London Marathon, but I’m already considering my 2024 pace application!

*Maths skills are not required to pace!

If all that pacing chat got you excited about taking on a big city race for yourself, check out our full list of marathons, and start training for your own incredible race day experience.

Browse marathons


7 Reasons To Commit To A 10k Run

Given that a premiership footballer will probably run around 11k in a match, there’s no reason to dismiss the 10k. It’s about an hour running, and any exercise taken for that long without a break is not nothing. The fact that that only 27% of people can run (or will train enough to run) a 10k proves it.

1. 10k is a decent distance

Given that a premiership footballer will probably run around 11k in a match, there’s no reason to dismiss the 10k. It’s about an hour running, and any exercise taken for that long without a break is not nothing. The fact that that only 27% of people can run (or will train enough to run) a 10k proves it.

2. It’s a new challenge

If you’ve already pushed yourself to do a 5k, you like a challenge. And so why not take the next step and move up a distance. It’s not an overwhelming goal, but it is a new one. It’ll give you something to work towards and something to structure your life. Most importantly, it’ll give you something to tell your friends and family about. More than once as well.

3. You’ll get to a different level of fitness training

Taking part in 10k runs will not just like a longer version of a 5k. It’s an entirely different run, and involves entirely different fitness training. You can’t work anaerobically (without oxygen) the whole way as you might do for a 5k. So you will need to teach your body (new) endurance running skills. As a result, you’ll improve your health and fitness on a completely different level to a 5k race.

4. It’ll get your endorphins going properly

Once you’ve pushed past about 30 minutes of any exercise endorphins are released. It’s a pretty wonderful feeling. Even better if you’re running outside, you have people watching, or you’re training with a friend.

5. It’s still achievable

Even if you’re a beginner, with a bit of dedication you can train yourself up within 10–12 weeks very comfortably. Mostly this helps with injury prevention — you might be capable of running further earlier on, but you don’t want to overtrain and hurt yourself. But this way also has its benefits. For example, you can build it into your everyday life schedule and hopefully continue after the 10k event has been and gone. It also won’t take up too much of your time.

6. Even more health benefits

You’ll look great. You’ll feel great. You’ll even feel like you can treat yourself without the guilt complex. Running and training for a 10k will just do that little bit more for you than a 5k will. Take the simple route and go the whole hog — feel toned, fit and cleansed. All for free.

7. Why not?

There’s no reason not to. Sign up to a 10k run and you could really discover a love of long-distance running. Don’t sign up and never know. If you very sensibly choose to run outside, you don’t even need to invest in a gym membership. So go for it.

Let's Do This Top 5 Running Apps for beginners

I asked the team at Let's Do This for the absolute best running apps for beginners. Running apps keep us motivated, connected, and can add something a little extra to your training schedule, whether you are a beginner, an experienced runner, or simply a data geek (aka run-nerd).

I asked the team at Let's Do This for the absolute best running apps for beginners. Running apps keep us motivated, connected, and can add something a little extra to your training schedule, whether you are a beginner, an experienced runner, or simply a data geek (aka run-nerd).

The overwhelming response from the team was that downloading a running app when they were a beginner really kickstarted their journey. They felt more motivated to run, but they also got to celebrate their achievements, with most apps - particularly Strava - allowing your friends to give you kudos and comment on individual runs.

If you're just beginning running, however, then choosing the right app can definitely seem overwhelming. So I've broken down the top 5 running apps for beginners - as recommended by the team - to make your choice easier.

1. MapMyRun:

This running app has both a free and premium version and is a great tool to add a little more data to your training, especially if you're a beginner. The free version is a typical GPS tracking tool that shows users a map of their route, overall time, and pace. The advanced features, unlocked through their premium subscription, add a whole host of easy-to-use features that make even novice runners feel like scientists. One of the downsides of the free version is that it relies on ads to make money, so if you can spare a couple of quid each month then we’d recommend it. 

Some of the advanced features include heart rate zones, interval training, cadence analysis, power analysis and nutrition tracking.

  • Available on: iOS, Android Wear, and Samsung Gear
  • Pros: Loads of useful data, easy-to-use
  • Cons: Ads in free version
  • Best Suited For: All-round runners who are looking to add more data to their training plans and understand their running styles better. 
  • Developer: UnderArmour 

2. Strava:

Strava is great for those multi-disciplinarians out there. They’ve created a platform that collects vast amounts of data for runners, swimmers, and cyclists alike. One key feature that makes it so popular is the users ability to tag certain portions of a run and compare how they did against their friends and family. This is great if you are competing and want to look at the difficulty of a course section, and customise your training schedule accordingly. 

Strava’s focus on triathlon disciplines has led them to integrate a number of advanced safety features into Strava Summit (Premium version) such as ‘Beacon’. This feature allows users to share their live location with friends and family when they go out for a run giving everyone a little peace of mind. To be honest, if we're looking at one app to rule them all, then it's Strava. That said, the overload of data can be overwhelming for beginner runners.

  • Available on: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Lots of data, single source for running/swimming/cycling data, advanced features
  • Cons: Extra steps to make use of data, Strava Summit price tag (£6.99 per month)
  • Best Suited For: Triathletes trying to centralize data from their running, swimming, and cycling.
  • Developer: Strava

3. Nike Run Club:

A few years back Nike revamped their previously very popular running app and the changes were not well received. They have continued to iterate and now have an awesome all-rounder app that offers on-the-run voice coaching and podcasts for multiple distances. Nike’s vast athletic network allows them to integrate the voices of sporting greats to encourage runners as they train for their next challenge. It also offers a slew of social media integrations, allowing you to connect easily with your friends and family and stack yourself up against them on the leaderboards. 

  • Available on: iOS, Android & Samsung 
  • Pros: Pro Athlete Coaching, Social Media Integrations.
  • Cons: Lack of nutrition tracking and advanced features
  • Best Suited For: Runners that like to compete against friends and family to stay motivated.
  • Developer: Nike

4. Adidas Running:

Another classic running app that incorporates all the basic functionality that a running app should. This app is a great starting point, but it lacks some of the fancy features that MapMyRun, Nike, and Strava have incorporated. However, Adidas have done a good job of building a dashboard that users can customise - removing all the fluff and focusing on what’s most important to you. It's the simplicity of this running app which makes it so great for beginners.

  • Available on: Android, and iOS
  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable dashboard
  • Cons: Basic functionality
  • Best Suited For: Entry-level runners who are looking for a straightforward and simple app to track their progress. 
  • Developer: Adidas Running

5. One You Couch to 5K:

A basic but brilliant app from the NHS, this one will really get you off the couch and into your running shoes. The running app is designed for users who have never run a 5K before and are looking to get in shape but don’t know where to start. It also takes users from walking a 5K route to jogging intervals all the way up to running that first full 5K. The app tracks information on distance, speed and route but little else. Users love this app for its audio coaching that directs runners on when to walk, jog or rest - taking the thought out of training and making it accessible to all. If you're completely new to running, and looking to build up your confidence, then I'd really recommend checking out this running app.

  • Available on: Android, iOS
  • Pros: User-friendly, motivational 
  • Cons: Basic features
  • Best Suited For: Complete beginners who don’t know where to start and have little-to-no running experience.
  • Developer: NHS
Source: Nest and Dressed

Overall, MapMyRun scored highest because it integrates a variety of data forms around an individual’s running style easily, it is used by a lot of people making for strong social scores, and is priced fairly. Strava came in a close second because it too incorporates a good amount of data but is slightly more complicated to set up and is priced a little higher than most other apps on the market. Nike+ came in at third with strong social elements and awesome coaching features but lacks some of the more advanced data that Strava and MapMyRun include. 

Although there are better running apps on the market, Couch to 5K serves an important role by encouraging less experienced runners to take up the sport. It makes running accessible to everyone, and in our eyes that is one of the most important things an app can do.

Best of the rest: Making running fun again

If you are looking to jazz up your running routine then perhaps try one of these awesome alternatives:

  1. Zombies, Run! (Free): This app has gamified run training. As the name suggests you have to outrun the zombie hoard that’s chasing after you. The faster you run and the more miles you put on the road and the safer you will be. 
  2. Relive: This is a great app for destination running (or cycling) where you can upload GPX files and photos of your run to the app and automatically create a video of the route intertwining your favourite memories from along the way. This app captures speed and distance but not much else, so if you are training seriously make sure to use a more advanced app in conjunction. 
  3. Charity Miles (Free): If burning calories and getting fit isn’t a good enough reason to don your trainers and hit the roads, then Charity Miles is. This app converts your hard worked miles into donations to a charity of your choosing. There are 40 charitable options to select from.
  4. Run An Empire: This is likely the brainchild of a keen Pokémon Go user. The title gives this one away a little, but the name of the game is to “take over” empires by running or walking through them. The more you run the more points you and your empire are awarded. 

So whether you are looking for a classic data-driven approach to training (i.e. MapMyRun, Strava, etc.) or you are trying to breathe life back into your training routine (Zombies, Run!) hopefully you will find something here that works for you.

Let's Do This, Together. 


5 Best London Marathon Alternatives in 2022

Feeling the pain of not winning out in the London Marathon ballot this year? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

Feeling the pain of not winning out in the London Marathon ballot this year? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

The London Marathon is the pinnacle of athletics performance in the UK. It sees the likes of Eluid Kipchoge, Shura Kitata and Brigid Kosgei grace the same course as tens of thousands of runners, fundraising heroes, and of course the wacky Guinness Book of Record Breakers (like the man who spent 6 days crawling the course dressed as a gorilla).

What can I do instead of the London Marathon?

Though it’s certainly a special race, the atmosphere, community spirit and camaraderie of the London Marathon can be more than matched by lots of marathons happening across the country this year. 

From the “other” run and the One Day I’ll Do London races on the date of the London marathon itself to beloved marathons in historic Clarendon and Loch Ness, you can still secure a marathon spot for 2022 today–no ballot required!

We’ve rounded up our top five UK marathons happening this year that we’d hate you to miss out on. It’s time to cast your net wide and find the one for you.

Explore 2022 Marathons

1.     XTERRA Snowdonia Trail Marathon

This trail marathon is a challenging mixed-terrain course, great for those looking to push yourself this summer. Forget pounding the pavements and big crowds, this  trail marathon will have you traversing the most picturesque views the UK has to offer. 

There will be plenty of hills throughout as well as some challenging terrain, but for marathon runners looking to get away from the big city and escape out to the country: this one’s a dream.

Bonus:  This event also offers a 10k and Half Marathon, so bring friends and family along for the ride or try out a shorter distance before going for gold next year.

Find out more

2.     PodPlus Kent Spring Marathon

Looking for a Spring marathon instead of a chillier October challenge? Break away from road racing and explore the scenic tracks and lanes of Kent on the PodPlus Kent Spring Marathon.

You’ll make your way through the quaint villages of Charing and Westwell, taking in spectacular views and the encouragement you need from crowds cheering you on in each village. 

Bonus: You can catch a high speed train from London St Pancras and arrive at Ashford International train station within 45 minutes–perfect for city folk and commuters alike.

Find out more

3.     Bacchus Marathon

The Denbies Vineyard estate hosts a marathon that is one for the fun runners out there. This event is a trail race that is more like a party than a serious marathon. Though the course is quite hilly, you’ll be buoyed along by the aid stations en route which are fully stocked with–you guessed it–wine!

No cheap plonk here–you’ll get to sample wine made onsite at the vineyard. What’s more, if you’re not feeling up to the Marathon there is also a Half Marathon and 10k to enjoy too, perfect for anyone looking to get a bit jolly on a summer’s day.

Bonus: Fancy dress is encouraged: this is not drill! Join the party dressed as whatever you fancy, great vibes all round.

Find out more

4.     ABP Southampton Marathon

The ABP Southampton Marathon lands on the ultimate weekend festival of running.

The course is pretty undulating throughout with a couple of hills and you’ll explore the historic landmarks of Southampton. This will be a truly memorable experience for everyone as there is always  plenty of sideline support, music and general cheer as you race through this beautiful city.

Bonus: Any Saints fans out there? This marathon goes straight through St. Mary’s Football stadium!

Find out more

5.     Milton Keynes Marathon

We couldn’t write about marathons without including this firm fan favourite. 

The Milton Keynes Marathon is voted one of the UK’s best marathons. It’s also a London and Boston Marathon qualifying race, making it the perfect race for anyone looking for a ‘Good For Age’ qualifying entry.

Though this race is smaller than the Manchester and Brighton marathons, this only adds to the friendly, unintimidating feel of the event. There’s also a stadium finish which will spur you on with some last-minute energy to dash across that finish line.

Bonus: Want to bring the rest of your family along? There are plenty of family friendly and shorter races happening throughout the weekend to keep everyone busy!

Find out more

Every cloud…

We know you might be feeling discouraged, but just imagine yourself standing on the start line, feeling the cool morning breeze against your skin, the pre-race nerves dissipating as you start to take your first courageous steps across the start line. Fast forward to crossing the finish line to cheers from your loved ones. 

You can still have that marathon experience this year.

Whether you’re a fun runner, a club runner, or you’ve never run before, don’t let missing out on the London Marathon ballot end your marathon journey: it’s just the beginning. 

Sign up to one of these incredible alternatives to the London Marathon today– even if it’s just a practice run for next year!

Find a 2022 marathon

Rock n Roll start line|New York Half finish line|Great Wall of China|Gower trail run|Big Sur Half|Big Sur bridge|Athens Half Marathon|Great North Run|Running course|Pre-race music|Princess finish line|Running on safari|Sydney harbour|Pre-race music

The 12 best half marathons in the world 2022

Our pick of the best half marathons worldwide. Our run down includes coastal trails, lions and antelopes, cheering crowds and Bellagio fountains. But, most importantly, these are the most outstanding and fun 13.1 mile adventures of 2022 and beyond. Make this year memorable and see where your legs might take you.

Our pick of the best half marathons worldwide. Our run down  includes coastal trails, lions and antelopes, cheering crowds and Bellagio fountains. But, most importantly, these are the most outstanding and fun 13.1 mile adventures of 2022 and beyond. Make this year memorable and see where your legs might take you.

1. Great Wall Half Marathon, China

When: 20th May 2023

The route: 5164 vertical steps along one of the great Wonders of the World. Yup, you guessed it, this is for experienced runners only.

Run it for: The history, the bragging rights, the step count. 

Definitely one of the world’s most challenging half marathons. Don’t worry, people do walk up the steps. The field is small at just 2500 overall (including the full marathon) so this is an original experience like no other. The finish is located in Yin and Yang square in the old Huangyaguan fortress so expect some incredible finisher’s photos. 

2. Coastal Trail Series: Gower Peninsular, UK

When: 5th November 2022

The route: A beautiful loop along a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Run along cliff tops, through woodland and along the beach. This race features some of Britain’s most stunning views.

Run it for: The scenery and varied trail terrain. 

Not for the faint-hearted (this race is in Wales which has some of the highest rainfall in the UK) it's perfect for those with a true sense of adventure. But if the weather is good, it’s very, very good. The Gower peninsular is famously beautiful with white sand and blue sea if you catch it on a good day. These races are hugely popular in our London office, being incredibly well organised with an excellent atmosphere and camaraderie. What's more, you can rest easy as there’ll always be an excellent Welsh pub at the end. 

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Bixby Bridge

3. The Big Sur 11 Miler, USA

When: 24th April 2022

The route: It might only be 11 miles, but the beautiful up and down road of the Big Sur coastline makes up for the last stretch. It’s a point to point race, starting at Big Sur station and winding along the coast, up Hurricane Point and finishing in the town of Carmel.

Run it for: Stunning views of the pacific ocean and potential whale spotting.

The event welcomes both runners and walkers, and with the addition of a 21 miler there’s definitely something for everyone. Travellers come from far and wide to cruise this stretch of Route 1 and with completely closed roads, you’ll have it all to yourself. Not to mention the medal, which features the famous Bixby Bridge. 

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4. Athens Half Marathon, Greece

When: 23rd April 2023

The route: Two loops through the city starting in front of the Greek Parliament buildings, around Mount Lycabettus passing the Acropolis twice and taking in the sights of Athens. 

Run it for: The history. Athens was where the marathon was born (and the medal’s pretty good too).

One of the most popular running events in Greece, you can expect some serious support along the route. Supporters turn up in force to cheer you on as you run through the historical district. An excellent way to see the sights without having to brave the museum queues. 

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5. New York City Half Marathon, USA

When: 6th November 2022

The route: Starts at East 72nd Street, passing all the sites like Times Square and Central Park and finishing on Wall Street in Manhattan. 

Run it for: The atmosphere. The streets are lined with supporters and the medal and t-shirt are as cool as it gets. 

Organised by the same guys that run the hugely oversubscribed NYC marathon (NY Road Runners) this event is a huge occasion in the US running calendar. This race is big for elite athletes, expect to share the road with the likes of Mo Farah, Dathen Ritzenhein and Catherine Ndereba.

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The Red Arrows over the Tyne Bridge, By Chronicle Live

6. The Great North Run, UK

When: 11th September 2022

The route: A point to point road race starting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, crossing over the iconic Tyne bridge and making your way to the coast via South Shields. Undulating route with a max elevation of 65.1 metres.

Run it for: The atmosphere, the wow factor and the post-race pubs.

With 50,000 runners competing in this race, it’s arguably the biggest half marathon in the world. The route will certainly keep you entertained. Expect bands, singers, cheerleaders and thousands of supporters lining the streets. The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, put on a greatly anticipated air show every year. This race really pulls out all the stops. 

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7. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, USA

When: 18th - 21st February 2021

The route: Run 13.1 miles through Disneyland Florida resort with Mickey, Minnie and the whole gang. The costumes at this race are unrivalled. 

Run it for: Your favourite Disney characters, hanging out with family and friends and all round good vibes.

This is an excellent race for families, there’s a 5k, 10k and kids race as well so why not make a whole weekend of it. This race prides itself on an amazingly light-hearted and fun atmosphere. Dressing up is obligatory; whether it’s Nemo, Elsa, Goofie or Jafar you’ll need to just throw yourself into this one. 

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By Midweek Kauai

8. Kauai Half Marathon, Hawaii, USA

When: 4th September 2022

The route: Looped road route starting and finishing in Po’ipu. Runners take in some of the Garden Island’s most stunning ocean views, volcanic peaks and tropical rainforests (including the famous shady tree tunnel - very cool indeed). Total race climb is 251 metres.  

Run it for: The scenery, the hula dancers and taiko drummers en route, and of course the afterparty.

This is the definition of destination half marathon. White sands, perfect blue seas and an incredible atmosphere on the course, who could ask for more. The route takes you on a journey full of natural wonders including  canyons and waterfalls. This really is a half marathon to remember, and we promise it actually is downhill to the finish. 

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By Depicus

9. The Big Five Half Marathon, South Africa

When: 17th June 2023

The route: Run on a mixture of sand, concrete and dirt road. The route takes you through the South African savannah,  through a few hilly sections in wooded valleys and then into lion country. This is a truly wild route and certainly one to tell the grandchildren about.

Run it for: As the title suggests, there’s big game out there. Look out for giraffes, lions and zebras and make friends with runners from all around the world.

This race has been given incredible reviews from so many people, commonly described as ‘an adventure race par excellence’. Expect to book a package for at least a week to go on safari and explore the 220km private game reserve. The Limpopo region is just between Jo’burg and Kruger National Park, and the temperature is around 60 – 75 Fahrenheit during the day so it’s not crazy hot. 

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By Canadian Running Magazine

10. The Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, USA

When: 26th - 27th Feb 2022

The route: An out and back route along Las Vegas’ most famous lit up casino strip, see the Bellagio fountains and High Roller observation wheel. 

Run it for: A night to remember!

This event is crazy, just watch the video. The organisers have managed to shut down the length of the Las Vegas strip and close the roads for thousands of runners. This is a full sensory experience with a neon light show, music blaring along the course and a pre-race headliner concert. The half marathon starts at 4.30pm on Las Vegas Boulevard, so it’s safe to say you’re straight into the afterparty at the finish line. 

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11. The Hackney Half Marathon, London, UK

When: 21st May 2023

The route: Run your way through East London on closed roads, through the trendy borough of Hackney with live bands and DJs lining the route. 

Run it for: The crowds, the atmosphere and the post race festival.

Our team absolutely love this race, it captures the great spirit of London and the atmosphere is electric. Crowds line the route (some weaving their way home from the night before) and the music is second to none. Expect to see all the London running clubs and charities on the route, and be sure to stick around for the post race festival with a Main Stage and food vans. 

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12. The Sydney Running Festival, Australia

When: 18th September 2022

The route: A twisting route that crosses the Sydney Harbour Bridge and finishes in front of the Opera House. A serious sight seeing tour but without all the tourists.

Run it for: The scenery, the cheering.

It's an early start at 6am but you'll be thanking the organisers by the end, particularly when there's lots of time to party on the beach with a beer in hand! The route is famously scenic, a real grand tour of what Australia's capital has to offer. Expect cheering crowds along the route (it's an excellent one for spectators so bring the loved ones). Best for running rather than walking as there are cut-off times.  

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Man and woman running in Richmond Park||The start of a marathon

The 9 best UK Half Marathons you need to sign-up for this season

The half marathon - 13.1 miles (21.1km) of running that’s guaranteed to challenge you physically and mentally. That said, not all half marathons were created equal and every half marathon has its own challenges. From steep roads to muddy trails, one thing is clear - crossing that finish line is always a huge achievement.

While the pandemic has put a stopper on races for the past year, we’re feeling confident that their return is on the horizon - which means you can be, too. Check out some of the best half marathons in the UK, that will give you the perfect goal to train for.

Great North Run

The Great North Run is one of the most popular races in the UK - and rightly so. Combining coastlines and steep ascents, it starts in the middle of Newcastle and ends back at the famous Tyne Bridge. Expect aching calves and a real community spirit this year, as it’s the Great North Run’s fortieth anniversary.  

When: September

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Royal Parks Half Marathon

If you like your races to be visually appealing, look no further than the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Hosted by Limelight Sports, the course takes you through four of Central London’s Royal Parks: Green Park, St James’s Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It’s a great flat run with lots to distract the eyes and take your mind off the pain.    

When: April

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Sheffield Half Marathon

For runners who prefer things a little less urban and a little more adventurous, the Sheffield Half shouldn’t be missed. It’s a hilly one, kicking off in the centre of Sheffield before climbing up to the Peak District for glorious panoramic views. Make sure you practise uphill trails before signing up, because this race will be a real calf burner. 

When: September 

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Ras Dewi Sant Half Marathon

Sticking with trails, the Ras Dewi Sant Half Marathon is great for more advanced runners after a gruelling, yet beautiful challenge. Guiding you through the Welsh countryside, it passes along the Coast Path and features beaches, mountains and bridleways. It might be tough, but trust me, the views will be worth it. 

When: March

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Leeds Half Marathon

I ran the Leeds half marathon back in 2016, and it definitely wasn’t easy. The route starts on the Headrow and ends in Millenium Square, with plenty of gruelling hills and a mentally tough long stretch at the end. But, there’s a great sense of community with friendly crowds handing out sweets and water all the way round to keep your motivation high. The incline makes it a great half for those looking for a challenge, while still being doable for less experienced runners.      

When: May

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Queen Elizabeth Off-Road Half Marathon

Set in the South Downs (one of our top UK spots for trail running), the Queen Elizabeth Off-Road Half is a truly stunning half marathon. But, with less steep inclines than the Sheffield Half or the Great North Run, this half marathon is great for runners of all levels and those looking to try out trail running. The race will see you stomping along tree-lined trails with impressive views throughout. 

When: November

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Oxford Half Marathon

If you like your races with a bit of added history then look no further than the Oxford Half. Passing Trinity College and following the River Cherwell, the Oxford half combines nature, culture and flat roads, making it a great race to aim for your PB. This half marathon is well-regarded for its vibrant, festival-like atmosphere. The popularity, however, means you’ll have to go through the ballot to get a place at this event. 

When: October

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Brighton Half Marathon

The Brighton Half Marathon is one of the UK’s highlights of the season and the sea-breeze provides some much needed respite for runners. In classic Brighton fashion it’s a real crowd pleaser, with a bubbly community spirit and lots of entertainment. Expect a fast, flat one with cliff tops, sea views and colourful beach huts, followed by a post-run splash in the sea.

When: June 

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Gaelforce Sky Run

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Ok, so this one is a bit quirky. Not only is it not technically in the UK, but it’s also not technically a half marathon. The Gaelforce Sky Run takes place in the rugged wilderness of the Maamturk mountains, Ireland and, at 22km, the course is just a tad over the Half Marathon mark. Nevertheless, it looks too good to not include in this list, and we love a wildcard. With vast panoramic views of Connemara, Killary Fjord and the offshore Atlantic Oceans, this is certainly one for your bucket list. 

When: July

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Can't make any of these? Don't worry, we've got you covered on our UK half marathon category page.

Woman running in Richmond Park

Running Motivation: 9 Ways I Keep Running Every Day

When it comes to running motivation, we all wish we had it - all the time. But, while some days you’ll wake up with a spring in your step and a natural yearning to hit the roads, other days getting out of the house feels like a marathon in itself.

So, how can you find motivation on the days when you’re just not feeling it? 

1. Track your runs

It can be difficult to stay motivated when you have no idea how far you’re running. You have no times to beat or milestones to achieve. But, if you start using a running tracking app such as Strava, Nike Run Club or Runkeeper you can learn more about your performance and strive to improve. Plus, you get a record of your running history to look over whenever you need inspiration.  

2. Eat well

You might struggle to find running motivation when you eat the wrong things. Foods that are high in sugars and saturated fats can make your body feel sluggish, whereas lean meats, poultry and eggs promote bone strength and fight inflammation. You’ll find that eating well makes you feel more healthy, energetic and motivated. A delicious meal to look forward to after your run can also provide great incentive. 

3. Get new gear

Finding running motivation can be a challenge when you’re wearing the same worn-down, tattered running gear. And, not only will those holey trainers be lowering your mood, they could be negatively impacting your running performance. So, stay inspired by getting some fresh new gear that you just can’t wait to take for a spin. Never underestimate the power of a new outfit. 

4. Get out while it’s sunny

The weather can have a huge impact on running motivation. It’s hard to feel enthused about heading out in grey drizzle. A glimpse of sunshine is a rarity in the UK, so seize the day and get out in it ASAP. A run in the sun will fill you with positivity and fuel you up for the next one. 

5. Buddy up

Inspiration can always be found in friends. Committing to a social plan makes it much harder to back out, and running with a partner could add some healthy competition. Alternatively, if you’re more of a solo runner, you could buddy up virtually. Agree to run on the same day as a friend and check in afterwards for extra commitment. Most running apps also have community sections where you can join challenges and compete with other runners.  

6. Mix up your playlist

It’s hard to find running motivation when every run involves listening to the same playlist on repeat. That inspirational Destiny’s Child song sure loses its power on the fiftieth listen. So, mix up your playlist and keep it up to date with upbeat, high-energy tunes. You could also listen to a podcast or try a mission on Zombies! Run.  

7. Find a new route

The enemy of motivation is repetition. Like mixing up your playlist, running motivation can be found when you mix up your route. If you often run on trails, why not try roads? Even running the same old park the opposite way round can add variation. 

8. Follow a programme

While some runners prefer spontaneity, many find that following a programme helps them to stay motivated. A running programme tracks exactly when, where and how far you’ll run per week and, importantly, holds you accountable. It might also combine strength workouts, stretches and a larger end goal like completing a race. There are loads of programmes out there, and Emma Kirk-Odunumi has some great ones to choose from.  

9. Sign up for a race

There are few things more inspiring than a competitive race. Whether it’s a 5K, half marathon or the full 26.2 miles, an end goal provides the motivation to put one foot in front of the other. Sure, life is a little strange right now, but many competitive races are still on track to go ahead later this year. Check them out for the ultimate running motivation. 

Top Virtual Events of the Week: UK

With the mass participation event schedule coming to a grinding halt due to the Coronavirus crisis, businesses and event organisers globally have been partnering with Let’s Do This to set up virtual events to keep your training on track and the community spirit high.

The Let’s Do This Virtual Events tool allows you to see a live leaderboard, and feel connected to your fellow participants with our image gallery, where you can upload your epic finisher’s photo. To keep you up to date on events, we will be releasing our Top 5 Upcoming Virtual Events each week: 

1. Maverick Adidas Terrex X-Series Virtual Race:  20th - 27th June

Event Perks: Distance Challenge, medal, goodies, optional t-shirt

Maverick is well-regarded as one of the best trail-running organisers in the UK. Now, in the midst of lockdown, they’ve turned their arm to virtual racing. This time around, they've challenged participants to run 50km in a 7 day period. Participants can choose to run it in one go in a feat of ultra endurance, or spread it out over the week. Whichever way you decide to do it, epic race medals will be posted out after the event to all finishers; and they are offering spot prizes for those with the best on-course and finish line photos.

2. Nice Work's Midsummer Virtual Half Marathon, 10k, 5k & 1k Challenge: 20th - 21st June

Event Perks: Finisher's medal, trophies for winners, family-friendly

After the success of their first 2 virtual events, Nice Work returns with another awesome midsummer themed virtual event. With family-friendly distances, prizes for the best finish-line photos, and bespoke medals for all finishers, this is a summertime event you won't want to miss. 

3. Sportiva Cycling or Running Challenges: 26th June - 26th July

Event Perks: Distance Challenge, finisher's medal, spot prizes. 

Sportiva Events is here to keep you motivated through the summer with their running and cycling Distance Challenges. Run 100km or cycle 250km between the 26th June and 26th July, and stand to win awesome spot prizes for the epic action photos you take en route! Every finisher will receive a medal and the option to purchase a Sportiva t-shirt as extra motivation during checkout.

4. Big 5 Virtual Event Series - African Game Medal: 20th June - 20th July

Event Perks: Series event, charity fundraiser, bespoke medal, series challenge

Calling all animal lovers and passionate conservationists alike for Hermes' Big Five Virtual Event Series. The event is being run in support of conservation projects aiming to reduce the amount of animal poaching and habitat loss in Southern African game parks. 10% of proceeds will go to Save the Rhino and Tusk. Each week participants will have to run a different distance, from a 5k to a half marathon, and each week will represent a different member of the Big Five; Leopard, Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, and Rhino. Participants will receive a bespoke themed medal for each week they run, and those who complete all 5 weeks will receive a special medal and a Hermes technical buff. 

5. Not the Mourne Way Marathon: 13th - 26th June

Event Perks: Bespoke medal, challenging distances, finish-line playlist

Famous for their epic trail marathon events, 26 Extreme is bringing their Mourne Way Marathon to you - wherever you are! A great event for more seasoned runners or beginners looking for a challenge, the shortest distance available is 10km, with the longest being a 40 mile ultramarathon. Strap on your trail shoes and head for the hills, and celebrate with your bespoke finisher's medal and a buzzing downloadable finish-line playlist.

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