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Half-Marathon Training Starts Now! July’s Training + Fall Race Plans

Posted Aug 09 2012 10:00am

by Jason Fitzgerald

Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.“ - John Bingham

Wedding Photo

I’m on the left, rocking a sweet calf stretch.

July’s training was inconsistent but overall a good month of volume. In the middle of the month I was in a wedding; it was my honor to be a groomsmen for one of my best friends. I had a blast (and even ran every day during his wedding weekend) and danced my ass off – most of the time while wearing sunglasses. I’m awesome like that.

After the wedding I spent a week on Cape Cod with my family and ended up taking three days completely off. Without those unplanned rest days I would have been well over 300 miles for the month and on track for a killer August. There’s nobody to blame for that except for myself.

OK, let’s get into the details…

July marked the beginning of my training for a half marathon PR attempt later this fall. My goal is MILEAGE as my college coach likes to tell his runners. Or in other words, I want to run… a lot. I didn’t quite get there for a few reasons – all of them my own.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad month though. In fact, with 277 miles it was my second best month of the year from a mileage perspective. Monthly volume has actually been more consistent than 2011, but I haven’t had any true “high mileage” months. I consider those 300 or more.

The weekly mileage levels were all over the place. The four full weeks in July were 70, 63, 34, and 75. Plus 35 miles for the extra three days outside those weeks.

July also had a few good workouts but unfortunately, there wasn’t much structure or progression to those workouts. My goal was to maintain my fitness rather than build on it. Though in hindsight, even if I didn’t plan on it, the workouts I did form a great early season half marathon plan.

Let’s take a look at the workouts I did in July:

  • 25′ tempo – 13 miles total
  • 8x400m with two reps at each pace: 6:00, 5:42, 5:24, 5:01 – 8 miles total
  • Moderate 10 miler with the 7th mile as a “strides mile” (stride the straights, jog the turns) in 5:46 – 10 miles total
  • 15′ tempo – 10 miles total
  • 20′ tempo with the last 2:35 uphill – 10 miles total
Most of these workouts are focused on developing the aerobic system. In other words, they’re what you should see at the beginning of a half marathon training cycle. The goal is for me (and anyone) to develop the “support pace” and aerobic engine that will help me run well in the half this fall.

If you want the gory details, my tempo pace is roughly 5:40 per mile (it depends on heat and humidity and how fit I am – sometimes it’s closer to 5:30). My PR half marathon pace is 5:38 per mile. In the next two months my tempo pace will drift closer to 5:30 when I get in better shape.

You’ll also see a few elements of what Brad Hudson (in his book Run Faster) calls “muscle training.” He defines this as:

 ”Workouts and drills that increase stride power and fatigue resistance at faster speeds. There are three general groups of training methods that fit this definition: hill sprints and repetitions; speed intervals; and strides and drills”

So for me, running 400m intervals at 5:00/mile pace is muscle training since it is faster than my 5k PR pace. A “strides mile” is also muscle training, as is the hill sprints, strides, and surges that I do on a weekly basis. My goal is to become more consistent with hill sprints – unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do them the week of the wedding and my vacation.

The next phase of my training will include more difficult aerobic workouts that will gradually morph into more specific half marathon pace workouts. I just hope that cooler temperatures are on the way in the next few weeks – I’m done with summer running.

Who wants to run a half marathon with me – and then go to Six Flags for free?!Maryland Running Festival

On October 20, I’ll be running the Maryland Running Festival half marathon for a PR attempt. I’ve been lucky to talk to the race director who’s organizing a great race: free admission to Six Flags, complimentary lunch buffet, fast USATF-certified course, and the race benefits several charities.

I’m excited to be a part of it and he generously offered a discount code if anyone is interested in running the half or the 5k.

Use code STRENGTHRUNNING to get $10 off either the half marathon or the 5k race. I don’t get anything from this code – it’s just my way of thanking you for being part of the SR community. You can register on Active here.

Plus if you sign up for the half, we can hang out at Six Flags after the race! Every registrant gets free entrance to the park and the ability to buy discounted tickets for friends and family. I can’t wait to go on so many roller coasters after racing a half marathon that I vomit everywhere. Why not?!

I have only one race definitely planned as an official tune-up race for the half: the Run Geek Run 8k on September 15 in Washington, DC. I ran this race in 2010 and highly recommend it for anyone in the DC/MD/VA area.

It’s a no frills race – flat, fast, chip-timing, and a great time of year to throw down a good effort. Personally, I’ll be attacking my 8k PR of 26:19 (set in 2005!) – after all, it is the Year of Stretch Goals.

Other than this 8k, I have no race plans. If things work out, I’d love to rock a 10k two or three weeks before the half. But I’ll wait to decide on that.

What about you? What are your fall race plans? How can I help?

Photo Credit

Like this article? Here's more!

  1. Marathon Training Starts…Now! August’s Training, Shoes, and More
  2. May, 2011 Training Journal: Getting Back on the Horse (and Half Marathon Event!)
  3. When Winning is Losing: Learning From a 1st Place Half-Marathon
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