As you may be aware, I’m training for the Mississauga Half-Marathon (May 16, 2010). When I tell people this I’m often asked how I train for a half-marathon. Being as sarcastic as I am, I often have to stop myself from responding: “By running”. I think what these curious bystanders really want to know is how do you build up the running distance? How do you build a half-marathon training program? So below is an outline of how I structured my training program. I started my program in January only able to run 3k! I hadn’t ran in 4 months and when I last ran in September my average distance was 5k. I only run 4 times a week. I now can complete 13k easily and my pace has improved by an average of more than 30 seconds/km (I’ve also lost 7 lbs).
I’ve phased my training because SPEED is a combo of ENDURANCE and STRENGTH. You can’t build strength without endurance and you need strength and endurance to build speed.
Jan & Feb was my endurance phase. On December 27th I began running after being sedentary for 4 months (in the fall I had fallen and broken a few ribs and they needed some time to heal). 3k was HARD! However I pushed myself every weekend to run a few more k’s and was finally able to run 13k this past Sunday. My long runs are slightly slower than my mid-week runs by about 20 seconds/km. I did this because my goal is speed – if I train long and slow I will perform long and slow.
March – my focus will be on strength while maintaining my endurance. I’ll be doing this by doing hill repeats on Wednesdays and my weekend long run will remain consistent at 13-15k.
April – this will be my hardest training month, and this is the month that injuries often appear, so I will need to listen to my body. I will be bringing all of the hard work form the past 3 months together on Wednesdays to do speedwork on the Ching Track. I will run 800m as fast as I can followed by short rest intervals. My weekend long runs will be consistent at 15k-18k.
May – this will be my two week taper – I will slowly decrease my running distances during the two weeks. That said, recent research has indicated that the shorter distances should still be run at a high intensity to maintain the speed that was built up. It’s possible that speed and strength is lost faster than endurance is. (I think this was in the March issue of Runner’s World).
Taking my phases into consideration, I’ve structured my training program to alternate hard/easy/rest days to allow progress while hopefully perventing injuries:
Mondays: Easy around the park 2-3 laps depending on how my legs feel.
Tuesdays: Yoga stretching and lengthening of muscles (I call this my “active rest” day).
Wednesdays: Longer run 3x around the park or Hills or Speedwork
Thursdays: Powerwalk with weights (sport specific strengthening of the upper body, as this contributes to running speed) or if my legs are sore I swim with pull-bouys.
Fridays: Easy around the park 2-3 laps depending on how my legs feel.
Saturdays: Long run – I’ve built up my distance from 3K in late December to 13K now – I will continue to build up my distance over the next 8 weeks to 18K
I would be more than happy to help coach you and anyone else who wants to learn to run! I can offer you advice, tips and a training program. If you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter so that I can help you on your way!