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So you’ve done a couple of 10km runs, tackled the city to surf and run rings around the blocks of your neighbourhood… it’s only natural that you think of signing up a half marathon. I mean, it’s only 21.1km, right?

Well to get some race-day tips from a champ, we asked Olympic long distance runner and Saucony Australia spokesperson, Benita Willis, to share her top advice for preparing for your next race.


Benita’s five quick-fire half marathon tips

1. Pace yourself
“Having an idea of your starting pace is important to make sure you don’t burn out too fast. Don’t start too hard, especially as most courses have some kind of ups and downs.  The best trick is to try to keep an average speed throughout the race to ensure you reach the finish line.”

2. Know your surroundings
“Grab a map of the course and take note of where all amenities are before the race, such as toilets and parking. And then plan your stops and where you’ll park. Also, put out your running kit the night before or even sleep in it so you don’t forget anything.”

3. Don’t do all your training runs too hard
“In your training, it’s important to do some easy recovery runs to absorb harder sessions as pushing your body too hard may cause injury and in turn may result in you missing the race.”

4. Mix up the surfaces you run on
“This is important in order to minimise injury as your feet get used to the feel of different textures i.e. do some training on grass or trails as well as roads and footpaths. This will get you ready for races that are run over different surfaces.”

5. Break in your gear before the race
“Make sure you do some training in the shoes you will wear in the race before the big day – there is nothing worse than blisters getting in your way and giving you pain on the day. My first choice for running shoes is always Saucony because their technology puts your foot in a more balanced and comfortable position, allowing for a more powerful and natural running stride.  This can make a huge difference for a distance such as 21.1km.”

5) Make sure you enjoy the process!
“The race is not all about winning so make sure you have some fun too . Most half marathons have spectacular locations, so you’re guaranteed fantastic views during your run, make sure to take them in!”

 Olympic Marathon

Benita Willis is an Olympic long and short distant runner, representing Australia at World Championship level 25 times, including 4 Olympics (Sydney 2000 (5km), Athens 2004 (10km), Beijing 2008 (marathon), London 2012 (marathon).