My Half Marathon Training Plan

I've officially signed myself up for my first half marathon. Yup- my first ever. Running long distances comes naturally to me (my best races are most often longer ones), so it's no surprise that I would eventually bite the bullet and join the 13.1 club. 

I think the most intimidating part about signing up for a race is not the race itself, but planning and training for the big day. A lot of people will simply run on the days when they "feel like it" or even just gut it out on the day of the race. And while there's nothing wrong with having faith in that race-day adrenaline to get your through the pain, I'm definitely not the "winging it" kind of girl. Plus, 13.1 miles is a pretty serious distance, whether or not you're a seasoned runner. 

Over the past month or so, I've been absolutely living by my planner when it comes to running. While most summers I'll usually just run 4 or 5 miles per day to keep in shape (and keep off the excessive amounts of Goldfish I eat at camp), I've become a lot more serious about my training. And so I thought that today I'd share with you my general plan and how it's been going so far. 

My Goals

Let me first start off by saying that losing weight or even getting more toned is not one of my goals throughout training. It's a welcome bonus if it just so happens that my body physically changes, but to be honest, that hasn't happened much yet. Lately, I've been trying to measure my physical strength much more than my physical appearance. And let's be real- being able to run 7 miles on an average day is far more impressive than being 5 pounds lighter! #strongisthenewskinny 

That being said, my goals are actually quite simple: to be able to finish the half marathon, and to do so at 8 minutes per mile or faster. I'm not quite sure whether this goal is too ambitious or too conservative, because I've never raced such a far distance. But I feel like having straightforward, yet specific, goals should help to keep my eye on the prize while training. 

My Plan 

What's a goal without a plan? It's easy to say "I want to do x, y, or z," but it's far more difficult to say how you plan to go about doing it. That's where the internet comes in. Upon typing in a quick Google search, I realized there were literally thousands upon thousands of pages of half-marathon training plans to choose from. I found that most of them were for either beginners who had no previous running experience, or for elite athletes who I'd have no chance of even running next to. So I narrowed it down to "intermediate/moderate half marathon training plans" and settled on this one from coolrunning.com

This plan has me training for 12 weeks but since I'm such a keener I'm actually training for the race about 16 weeks in advance. So for the first four weeks of my training (which started in late June) I kept it chill with alternating 4 and 5 mile runs until I was ready to kick it into gear by week 4. One speed workout per week is proving to be plenty, as I hadn't been doing much speed-work before (I'll take a ridiculously long run over a short and fast speed workout any day). 

What I love about this training plan most of all is that it has one rest day per week, whereas a lot of the ones I found online had two. It might sound crazy, but two days of rest is just too much for me (I'd rather have one day of rest + one light run day). 

As a notorious Type-A planner, having this written out online was definitely not my jam. For me, everything needs to be written down on paper, or else it isn't going to fly. Period. So I made use of my ban.do agenda's monthly spread to write out my mileage. It's such a great visual to have it in a monthly format, and it's so satisfying to cross out each day as I go. Also, I wrote everything out in pencil in case I have any last minute changes. I try to stick to the plan as much as possible, but sometimes life can just get in the way of those 15 mile long runs y'know? 

My Progress 

Prior to starting this training program, I had not run more than 9 miles in one day- granted, that one time I did run 9 miles was by complete accident when my friend and I got lost #classic. This past Sunday, I ran 11 miles pretty much nonstop and it was so rewarding! I mean other than the fact that my legs were throbbing by the time I climbed into bed, I really felt accomplished and proud. I find that longer runs are often easier than the shorter ones because I end up switching into an autopilot mode of sorts once I'm out on the road. An hour and a half can really fly by on a run! (I'm dead serious, y'all. Or maybe I'm just crazy)

Not only am I improving my endurance and strength, but I feel like I'm finally mentally at peace with running. I've said it before, but while running in high school was incredible for me socially, and really gave me a good foundation for the sport, I've never felt this genuinely happy as a runner. I now challenge myself on my own terms, instead of stressing over what my coach and teammates will think. I look forward to running- and even to racing- much more than I ever did before. I'm not trying to go all exercise-guru on you all, but I can't tell you how special it feels to be taking pleasure in something that I once had a love-hate relationship with. 

That's not to say that I don't have those "urgh, I don't feel like running" days every once in a while. But I can tell you that the enjoyable days greatly outnumber the more difficult ones. And that's certainly not how I felt a few years ago. 

Training for this half-marathon has truly strengthened and solidified my love for running. I honestly didn't expect it to, but it has. Sometimes all it takes is a good plan and bit of motivation to discover your passion for something again :) 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...