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half marathon training planOnce you have decided to run a half marathon, the next step is to find the right half marathon training plan. There are so many plans online, some for free some paid, how do you pick the right one for your individual goals? As you well know, running can be an expensive pursuit. From top of the line running shoes, to race entry fees, and an Apple Watch can cost a small fortune. Where can you save some money is on your training program. There’s coaches and gurus out there that will gladly take your money, but is it even worth it? Not really and I’ll list out some of the things you should be on the look out for in a training program.

What are your goals

Half marathon training is a very personal goal and the training is based on your own individual level of fitness. When choosing a plan find one that meets you at your current ability level and goal mileage. If you are not running at all and you’re just starting out, find a program that slowly incorporates walking into the running program. If you are comfortably running 4 times per week, choose one that fits that frequency. Don’t overtrain yourself by choosing one that has more than 5 days of running in a week.

 

Mark your calendar

There is something psychological about writing race on the calendar. Subconsciously you are preparing yourself for that date in the future. Once it’s on the calendar work backwards to see when you should begin training. When I commit myself to a race, I write it on the calendar (or type into iCal, if you wish) and then find a 16 week or 12 week training program by working backwards. Put any obligations or events that may prevent you from completing an important run. This way you can plan ahead and switch things around.

Pre-race race

While this is not necessary, having a couple shorter races on the calendar during the training regimen can help you get used to a race environment. There are a lot of training plans that have, say a 5K race included in the schedule. If it works out that you can do a pre-race race then great. If not, it’s not a big deal.

Find your Stride

One of the most difficult aspects of training is figuring out what your pace should be, or how fast you should run the race. In order to run the race at a particular speed you need to incorporate it into your training. If you have a time goal in mind for your half marathon, then you’ll need to train accordingly. If you just want to finish and have no race time in mind that’s fine too.

How to determine your pace

If you are completely new to the sport or if you have a few races under your belt determining your race pace is a balance between something that is challenging and doable for your situation. You can use this calculator to help find your pace. 

Variety

Now that you’ve determined your training pace, it’s time to get to work.  Your training program should have some variety to 1. mix up the monotony and 2. help improve overall health and fitness. Your program should include tempo runs, cardio, long run and rest days.

Avoid doing back-to-back long runs. Add some shorter speed work or switch it up with some cardio swimming or cycling. You will need an easy (or rest) day between those workouts.

Try to up your weekly mileage by at least 10%. For example, if you ran 30 miles last week, you want to shoot for 33 miles total miles the following week.

Slowly increase long run distance. If you have to skip a long run, you may want to shuffle long runs around so you aren’t going from 14 to 18 miles (for example) on back-to-back weekends.

Flexibility

Training programs are very rigid and we as people are not. Stick to your schedule but also remember that things happen, sickness, injury, work and family life, etc all come into play and can easily throw curve balls into a training program. Be flexible. If the training calls for 4 mile run on Monday and you’ve got a conflict, move the run to another day. Remember to look at your training more organically so that you can be flexible with whatever may come up.

 

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