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Running Tips Part 3: Building a Training Plan

Posted Feb 04 2011 7:56am

Good morning!

And HAPPY FRIDAY!!! I hope you’re having a great morning so far. Thank you so much for all of your comments in yesterday’s post . It’s so exciting to hear about the races you guys have coming up! A lot of you mentioned you were racing for the first time and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Please make sure you email me with a recap!

In case you’re just catching up, we’re about midway through my Running Tips series of posts. So far we’ve talked about…

Today I’ve got one of my half marathon training plans to share with you, as well as a few sample workouts from my speedwork sessions. The plan I followed was a bit of a mish-mash of advice from my cross country coach, online training forums and articles, and whatever the heck I felt like doing. I didn’t have it exactly set out as below, but what I actually did was very close. My plan for myself, which I started 12 weeks before my second half marathon, looked a little something like this:

Now I’m sure you’ve got questions, so here are some notes that will (hopefully!) answer some of them:

My fitness level going into this race: If you’re a newbie half marathon runner, this training plan might look a little intimidating. Keep in mind that at the time, I’d already run several shorter races, trained for 2 seasons in cross country (more about this here ), and had already completed my first half marathon. Don’t worry – you can still adapt this plan for yourself by reducing the distances and intensity of the workouts. For example, you could do walk/runs in the first couple of weeks, then build up your running distance gradually over the following weeks.

Total mileage per week: Not including the speedwork sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, this plan had me running up to about 30 miles by the week before the taper phase. As a general guideline, it’s wise to only increase your total weekly mileage by about 10% each week in order to prevent injury and overtraining. If you’re looking for a good resource to log your weekly mileage (as well as the mileage on your shoes), check out this post where I explained the Runners World Training Log . It looks like this:

According to Runners World training plans, the weekly mileage peaks (as in the furthest you’d ever run in 1 week) for beginner, intermediate, and advanced half marathon runners are as follows:

Rest Days and Long Runs: I usually found it most convenient to do my long runs on Saturday, and use Sunday to recover from them. If you’re designing your own plan, just pick the days that work out best for you.

Speedwork: Monday and Thursday were my speedwork days, and I changed up the order of my interval and fartlek runs (explained here ) every other week. The length of each workout stayed almost the same throughout the plan, but the difference was the intensity (indicated by the Intervals 1, 2, 3 etc.) For example:

  • Week 1 and 2 Intervals: Warm up, then 8 repeats of: 30s sweat-yo-face-off running, followed by 60s recovery. Cool down with easy running.
  • Week 3 and 4 Intervals: Warm up, then 8 repeats of 60s balls to the wall running, followed by 60s recovery. Cool down with easy running.

You can make these intervals harder by increasing the number of repetitions, increasing the length of the work phase, or decreasing the length of the recovery. That’s just one of the many reasons why intervals are grrreat!

Tapering on Week 12: You’ve probably heard of tapering before, and if not, the purpose of the taper phase is to allow your body to repair any damaged muscles and recover properly so that you can run a freakin’ fabulous race. In my first half marathon I thought tapering was for people who were lazy and therefore didn’t do it properly. But by race 2, I knew better and took my mileage down quite a bit so that I’d be on top form – and it worked! :)

When my bod was sore… I took extra rest days and didn’t try to be a hero. This was particularly true in my marathon training plan, when I got really sore after some of my long runs and one rest day just wasn’t long enough. Don’t hesitate to do this because not listening to your body is a baaad thing. Make sure you let it recover properly so that you’re able to run a strong race. An amazing tool for helping you recover? This little beauty :

How did the marathon training plan differ? As you probably guessed, the main difference was the distance of my longer runs. As I mentioned yesterday, my last long run for the half marathon plan was the full distance, 13.1miles. For the full marathon, it was only 20.3 miles, a few short of the full 26.2. Just like the half marathon, my weekly mileage increased by roughly 10% each week. In the half marathon plan, my weekly mileage peaked at around 32 miles, and for the marathon, it was around 47 miles – according to my training log anyway!

OK! That was lots of info. Did I miss out any of your questions? Feel free to post below in the comments or email me . In the meantime, I’ve got some fun links for you to check out:

  • What’s your (Half) Type? This quiz from Runners World helps you to figure out what type of half marathon training program is best for you based on your racing preferences. It also provides sample plans based on your choices.
  • Run.com – a resource for finding and tracking running routes worldwide.
  • RunnersWorld.com – Probably my #1 go-to source for running info!
  • The Running Room – Looking for a race in North America? Check out the Running Room’s schedule here. There’s also information about training programs for runners of all fitness levels.
  • HalHigdon.com – a great source for free training programs. In addition to marathon and half marathons, there are also programs for 5k’s, 10ks, and other races.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see ya back here on Monday morning! :)


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