How to Mentally Prepare for a Half Marathon with Jack Rowe

Training for long distance running events like a half marathon is undoubtedly tough. From getting out on long runs; pushing through tough sessions; and staying consistent with your training – preparing for events like these is an intense physical process that demands meticulous care and attention.

Half marathon preparation is not just about the physical preparation, but being mentally ready is key to a great performance. Elite PUMA athlete Jack Rowe answered a few of our questions on how best to mentally prepare for a half marathon. 

1. Hey Jack! As you enter the taper period in race week, how do you stay mentally strong and prepared ahead of race day?

The taper is a great time to allow your body to absorb your completed training and freshen up ahead of race-day. Enjoy this period, tick-off your reduced training load and stick to the plan!

2. To what extent do you experience nerves the night before the event? How can other participants deal with this?

All athletes experience a level of nerves pre-race. These days I experience more nerves before shorter track races (1500m-5000m) as they can be over in a flash with poor tactics or execution.

I would recommend that you spend time with friends or family pre-race, whether that be for dinner the night before or breakfast in the AM. Socialising is a great way to remove the race from your thoughts and talk freely about normal life.

3. How do you prepare on the morning of the event to ensure you stay calm and mentally resilient?

You should aim to create and execute a pre-race schedule. This should include everything from travel, food/fuelling, hydration to a warm-up routine. Once tried and tested this is a great way to alleviate stress on the day by having a plan and then sticking to it. 

4. Talk us through your mentality at the start, beginning and end of a half marathon. Are there different ‘stages’ of the event that require a different mental approach?

Definitely – running for 21km will create different emotions that you must be ready for. 

My mentality for the first stage of the race (0-10km) is to stay calm, keep a low profile and expend as little energy as possible while maintaining race pace. 

From 10-20k I remind myself to concentrate – am I running the shortest line corner to corner? Is there an athlete I could work with to continue to push the pace, do I need to hydrate/fuel?

The final 1km (20-21k), it’s time to race. Can I up the pace? Are there athletes ahead to chase? Can I hit my target time? This is the time to remember the big training sessions in the build up, this is when they pay off!

5. Have you ever experienced ‘the wall’ in an event? Tell us about it – and how you overcame it.

I have certainly hit ‘the wall’ before and your ability to stay calm is huge to overcoming it. My advice would be to ease off the pace, allow your body to recover, and once feeling better slowly increase the pace. 


Thank you Jack and we wish you the very best of luck at the Manchester Half this weekend!