GSR Half Marathon Top 10 Tips

As it’s my third year running the Glasgow GSR Half Marathon, and I’ve taken to trying to help others run this year… I thought I’d get my top 10 tips together about the event and about running half marathons in general.

The Half Marathon Distance

Personally, I think the half marathon is one of the best distances around:  long enough to be a challenge but not as long or as daunting as a kilamothon or marathon.  If you can run a 10k non stop, you can probably run a half marathon – all it takes is a bit of dedication, training to increase your long runs, a bit of confidence and some positivity.

13.1 miles : just over double a 10k: 10k plus 6.9 miles.  Half the marathon distance.  When I’m doing a half marathon I like to split the distance up into segments.  Bite sized chucks which make the idea of running such a long distance, less daunting.  I think of half marathons as shorter runs of:

  • 6 miles, 4 miles, 3.1 miles.  I tick each one off as I complete the distance.

You could split it down into any variation:

  • 3 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles, 1.1 miles
  • 5 miles, 5 miles, 3.1 miles
  • 4 miles, 4 miles, 4 miles, 1.1 miles

The GSR Half Marathon Route

I like the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon route.  One of the main reasons is that it goes right past my door, but also because it goes over the Kingston Bridge and through my two favourite Glasgow parks:  Bellahouston & Pollok Parks.

Where are the hills I hear you say?  The course itself isn’t very hilly, but the elevation map below should give you an idea of where the hills are:

  • At the start: St Vincent Street: you probably won’t notice this much as you’ll be in a sea of runners.
  • Mile 4: Paisley Road West: a slow gradual hill which you won’t really notice up to mile 5.
  • Mile 7-9: Pollok Park: after you enter Pollok Park there’s a bit of a climb (0.25 miles) then a down hill and around the corner in Pollok Park.  Then there’s a downhill before you turn left along past the cows.  After the cows you take another left up a short steep hill towards the Burrell Collection.
  • Mile 10: a steady slight hill up past Crossmyloof.
  • Then after that it’s more or less a  nice steady downhill towards the Clyde with a right past the Gorbals and into Glasgow Green.

I’ll do a post about the GSR 10k route soon. 🙂

Hydration & Energy

There will be plenty of water stations on the route – see more here…

You’ll have got a map in your pack, and it’s good to know in advance where the water stations are:

Shown as an R in the map for Refreshment, here’s where the water stations are:

Mile 3,
Mile 5,
Mile 10,
Mile 11.5.

For any run longer than 1:30 I like to carry my own water supply in my backpack, but each to their own. You’ll be able to get water at the water stations.  As for gels, I’ll either carry them in my pockets or in a little arm or waist pack. 🙂


Around 10 days before the Great Scottish Run and the weather forecast for the 2nd of September is rain, 17’C… I checked on accuweather which is usually pretty accurate.  Although you know what Scotland’s like… it will probably be bright sunny weather with showers throughout the day!


The old saying ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’ is one to bear in mind for a half marathon distance too.  You could run a half marathon and just see how you get on, without time goals, or you could base your goal time and pace on a previous race or your training runs.  You’ll be able to see what sort of pace you should aim for by entering details into The Runners World Race Time Predictor

So if you’ve done a 10k in an hour, you can expect to do a half marathon (13.1 miles) in around 2:13.  To get your minute/mile pace all you do is divide the minutes by 13.1: 133 / 13.1 =  10.15 (to get the minutes and seconds, take the full number (10) away, then times the decimal by 60 = 10.15 = 10:09 minute/miles.

If you don’t want to work out your pacing yourself, last year I set up this GSR Half Marathon pacing Calculator.   It takes into account the elevation on the course and suggests the pace you should run at if for your particular time goal.

And finally, if you want to follow someone else who is setting a particular pace, the event organisers are putting on Pace Setters again.  I was a Pace Maker in May at the women’s 10k and it was great to help so many people.  At this year’s GSR half marathon there will be pace setters for the following times :

1.20 mins
1.30 mins
1.55mins (to get sub 2 hours).

And hopefully I’ll be pace setting for 2:15 or 2:10 as I’ve offered my services again – so fingers crossed I’ll help some more people on the run this time. 🙂  I got some great feedback last time and even got a big hug from a stranger I helped to get a PB! (Pity I didn’t get her name!)

See here for more info on Pacing.
Energy, Hydration and Pacing for 13.1M & 26.2M
My women’s 10k pacing results (May 2012)

What to Wear

What i wore for the Chicago half marathon 2011: shorts, vest, cape and sunnies!

If it’s going to be raining and 17’C on the day, you might be tempted to layer up to keep warm and dry… but if you’re out running for between an hour or three, and it’s raining, you’re probably going to get wet no matter what you wear.

Tights AND shorts, two buffs, and three layers on top…;-) dressed for WINTER!! (not for an event!)

As it will probably be quite warm (and knowing Scotland being Scotland) I’d wear shorts and t-shirt and perhaps some arm sleeves to keep warm and a cap to keep the rain off my face.  You could consider a black binliner to wear before you start, or just keep warm on the startline as much as you can.

Whatever you do, don’t wear too many clothes as you’ll regret it!  Being too hot on a run, especially a long run can be horrible!

And remember to get a change of warm dry clothes for the end if you can.  You might have friends or family who are going to cheer you in, and it’s a good idea to get them to take them along if you can.

Tips for being too hot or cold on the run

Even in the rain, you’ll probably keep warm when you’re running.  If you get too hot, it can be a real relief to either fill your cap with water and put it back on your head, or pour a cup or two of water over your head / down your back.  You shouldn’t tend to get too cold on the run, but it might happen if you need to walk.  Bear this in mind if you do walk and try to get a run going if you do feel cold.  Remember the more you run, the sooner it will be over.

Positivity & Mindset

A half marathon is a good challenge.  Running for between 1:30 – 3 hours can be a bit of a daunting thought.  It’s a good idea to be positive, think positive thoughts and have positive self talk phrases or mantras to keep you going: ‘You can do it’, ‘Run strong’, ‘Stay Strong’, ‘This is easy’. ‘Relax’, ‘Have Fun’, ‘Keep Going’.


You’ve done the training – you can do it!  🙂  For more on positivity and mindset see here:

Believe in yourself and think positively
My goals for the D33: Tick! + some tips!
Goal Setting and Motivation
Self doubt vs Self belief : ‘YOU CAN DO IT’
Are you a Positive or Negative person?

On Race Day

Aim to get a good night’s sleep the night before the race (6-10 hours), hydrate well in the week before the event, and make sure you taper and rest adequately.

Try to avoid using anything new on race day (new gels, new trainers, or new drinks). Always try to use gear, energy and hydration types which you’ve used during training and which you know your body is ok with. You don’t want to get 10 miles in and have a problem with your bowels because you’ve tried a new energy source, or are wearing new trainers which you haven’t had the chance to wear in!

Use your weeks of training to get a pre long run routine.  Eat porridge, drink a lucozade, take on caffeine if it works for you.

See how I prepare here:
Rituals & preparations for long runs / races
Running Long


It’s important to think about recovery as soon as you finish the race.

As soon as you finish:

  • Keep moving, walk slowly and think about how all of your body feels. Try not to sit down yet.
  • Drink water and a milkshake immediately after. (I’d recommend For Goodness Shakes or a Mars Bar milkshake)
  • Stretch all your muscles well.
  • Put on warm clothes if possible.

Within 30 – 120 mins:

  • Eat something (like Muller Rice or a banana, bagel and nutella, or peanut butter: carb and protein rich).
  • Shower and if you feel tired or dehydrated, make sure you continue to eat or drink.

After 60-120 mins:

  • Rest. If possible lie down (and sleep, or not) for 2-4 hours.
  • Your body recovers best when you sleep, so take some time out to let your body repair.
  • (You could have your lunch or a meal before your rest….)

After your rest:

  • Eat a good meal of meat and veg, high in carbs and protein (or whatever you want! you’ve earned it!)
  • My usual recovery meal is medium fillet steak with a poached egg on it, with chips and veg. Expensive, but well worth it!
  • Drink plenty and maybe have another milkshake if you want.

Oh and last thing….t-shirts

If your t-shirt doesn’t fit, you can go along to the Jury’s Inn and swap it for a different size. The event organisers will be there from Thursday 30th until the Saturday the 1st I think.  You can change sizes but I don’t think you can change the type of t-shirt you have  (ie from cotton to technical – technical t-shirts were offered for a fiver more to early bird entries). 🙂

See more about running long here – and enjoy the run!!:

Want to know more?

See more info on these links:

Runners World: Half Marathon Training
RunnersWorld: BIG Half Marathon Index

Top 10 Marathon Tips
Half Marathon Strategy

Up Hill Running Tips
Downhill Running

Run Workouts (using your Heart Rate)
Progressive training runs for the Half Marathon
Top Ten Ways to Avoid Over Training
Simple Treadmill Hill Run

Running Long
Top 10 Long Run Tips
Q: Running long and thoughts on runs
Suitably pleased with that long run….
5/5 Top 10 ways to achieve your personal best

Believe in yourself and think positively
My goals for the D33: Tick! + some tips!
Goal Setting and Motivation
Self doubt vs Self belief : ‘YOU CAN DO IT’
Are you a Positive or Negative person?

This entry was posted in Analysis, Challenge, Fun, Motivation, Run, Top 10s. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to GSR Half Marathon Top 10 Tips

  1. Pingback: Q. How does pacing work in a Half Mararthon? | Lorn Pearson Trains…

  2. JIM says:

    great tips. Looking forward to my 5th GSR

  3. Pingback: I’m going to be a pacer at the GSR half marathon! | Lorn Pearson Trains…

  4. Pingback: So this is Christmas, and what have we done? | Lorn Pearson Trains…

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