Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Half Marathon Training Plan


You’ve got to love what that testosterone makes them do.

Every so often, during marathon training I would meet a boy and he would tell me that he could run a marathon. That’s not such a strange thing to say if you regularly run fifteen miles every weekend or are a professional soccer player.

But those boys...they just can't ever say something sensible and rational.

I’m not talking about runners. I mean your average boy. The ones who will paint their bare chests and stand in forty-degree temperatures for an entire football game.

I know of two boys, one who joined a sixteen mile long run despite never running double-digit mileage before, and another who ran the New York Marathon on a six-mile-a-day habit.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am not a boy and I like my knees, so when I decide to run a half-marathon, I have to train for it.

In the past, my half-marathon plans have involved running about 3.5-5 miles three-four times a week before work with one long run on the weekend. For the first half, the long runs started at six miles and maxed out at eleven miles. The second half-marathon topped out at fourteen, and for the third, I was training for the marathon and was at the sixteen mile long run point.

Now that I’ve got a few races under my belt, I’m ready for a challenge. I’ve adopted my plan from Runner's World. It’s a blend of their intermediate and advanced plans. I’ve made a significant number of changes to both schedules and I have added in cross-training and strength work.

Don’t get confused. I am NOT an advanced runner, but I have found that I can race a half-marathon much more successfully if I actually run slightly further than the race distance. I would not recommend that a new runner tries to run greater than the race distance without consulting a coach or trainer.

My general plan works like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Speed workout, typically a few longer distance sprints at race pace or 10K or 5k pace. There are no 100 meter dashes in this plan.
Wednesday: Spin and strength train or run easy for one hour.
Thursday: A tempo workout, usually a mid-level distance at race pace.
Friday: Spinning and strength
Saturday: Long run, starting at 7 miles and ramping up to 14 miles.
Sunday: Spin or mid-distance run, but if I’m in a lot of pain from Saturday or I just had too much fun on Saturday or I just want to spend all day shopping in Soho, then it’s a rest day. (I’m not trying to break any world records here.)

Here’s this week’s schedule:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 3 x 1 mile @ 10K pace, with 400 yds cool down between each mile
Wednesday: 5 miles easy or Spinning
Thursday: 6 miles, with some little uphill sprints and bursts
Friday: My very favorite spinning class!
Saturday: 12 miles (I'm already a few weeks into my training, hence the high weekend mileage)
Sunday: Spinning or 5 miles.

If you are looking for a beginner’s plan, here are the two I recommend. Hal Higdon’s and Running.About.com. I like the Running World’s beginner plan as well, but if you are new to running, speed work can be daunting. And completely unnecessary. No one I know, did any track work for their first half; however, if you ran cross country or track than maybe you would like the challenge.

Do you follow a cookie-cutter training plan or make your own?

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