Thursday, February 13, 2014

So you want to run a half marathon…

Even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and deemed 6 more weeks of winter, spring half marathon season is on the horizon. Many of you probably have your sights set on a race or maybe even have signed up already! March-June is a very popular time for half marathons and often, its many people’s first. When approaching the half marathon distance whether it be for the first time, tenth time or bazillionth time, you have a few options on how to get there:
  • Follow a training plan
  • Train with a running club
  • Wing it and show up on race day
Generally speaking, I don’t recommend going with option C. It’s a little overwhelming, exhausting and not a very good decision if you’re just getting started. I’m a big fan of option B, but not everyone is comfortable finding a running club or you already have a friend you’re planning to train with. Option A is the one I’m here to help you with. How to find a half marathon training plan! And better yet, how to follow it / customize it to fit your schedule.
 
Here are some of the most common half marathon training plans:


Hal Higdon
Galloway Method
Runner’s World
First Timers Plan from About.com




When selecting your training plan, you need to take a few things into consideration:
  • How many weeks until my desired half?
  • Are you a beginner? A few under your belt? There are different levels of plans.
  • Is there a specific method you want to train? Galloway teaches the run/walk method.
  • If this isn’t your first rodeo, do you have a time goal?
Choose your plan based on these questions. There are tons of plans you can find by searching the Internet. Find the right length and method of training that’s right for you. Find a program that can help you improve your pace, if you’re going for a time goal.
 
Once you know your goal race, figure out how many weeks you have until the race. For a first time half marathoner, 10-14 weeks will give you an ideal amount of training time to prepare you for the race. Generally 12-14 week plans are more common and allow you to ease into your mileage a bit more.
 

Now that you’ve determined how long you have to train and you’ve picked a plan, here are some tips and tricks to stick to it and help you improve!
  1. Keep your end goal in mind. You’re going to finish a half marathon!
  2. Take your rest days. These are here for a reason. Recovery is just as important as your workout. Recovery will help you become faster and stronger!
  3. Know that it’s okay to switch up days occasionally. If you’re supposed to run 3 miles on Monday and rest Tuesday, but you need a rest day Monday. Go for it and get your run in on Tuesday. Skipping a day every so often won’t kill you either.
  4. Cross training is important! While clearly running more often will improve your running, including cross training and strength training will improve your overall performance and help you avoid running related injuries.
  5. Don’t race your long runs. You weekend long runs are all about time on your feet. Your long runs should be 0:30-1:30 slower per mile than your goal race pace. You’re training your body to be running for an extended period of time. Running slowly on long runs will help to improve your time come race day.
  6. Make sure you get your long runs in. These are important, but if you’re sick or injured, skipping a week will be better than pushing through. If your long run is set for Saturday, it’s okay to switch days if it won’t fit into your schedule.
  7. HAVE FUN! Enjoy the training and the feeling of accomplishment as you scratch off another completed workout. You deserve to pat yourself on the back.
So there you have it. There are tons of plans out there. A different one for each individual style and needs. If you need help finding a plan or altering a plan to fit your lifestyle, feel free to reach out to me. I’m happy to help! I’m also available for training consultations if you’re looking for a more personalized training plan. E-mail me at acgougler@gmail.com for more information! And because no post is complete without a picture, here's me after my very first half marathon!

 

Are you training for any spring races? Which one?
What training plan do you follow/plan to follow?

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