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    Hey! I'm Beth - a 27 year old foodie living and working in the Washington, DC area who has lost almost 90 pounds through Weight Watchers. I love good food, wine and getting creative in the kitchen, and then balancing that out with running, The Shred, and yoga. Please feel free to browse around and hopefully you'll find some ideas, recipes and motivation!

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Half Marathon Training Plan

Hi guys! Hope your Tuesday is off to a good start. Mine is because I started it off right by knocking out an “easy” 3 miles before work in 30 minutes flat – followed by stretching. Some days runs are just harder than others, and today I had to fight for this one even though it was just 3.

It is so hard for me to get up in the mornings to get my workout in, but I am always so pleased to have it out of the way. My goal is to try to wake up 1-2 mornings a week to start per week, and then hopefully it’ll become a habit so it’ll get easier and I’ll have more free time in my evenings. I wrote a post about tips for waking up to get workouts in the AM that you can find here, but I still really struggle with it.

half marathon

Yesterday morning, Caitlin did an awesome post on how she creates a training plan, so I was inspired to finally put my plan into my own document, rather than using the print out of Hal Higdon’s Intermediate plan and crossing it off/making my own notes. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to use this plan, but make some tweeks to it. Here’s what I was hoping to accomplish with my tweeks:

  • Maintain the speed training and a long run once a week
  • Run only 3-4 times a week, rather than the 5x a week prescribed for injury prevention and to avoid burnout
  • Incorporate 2 days of strength training per week
  • Have the long run be 12 miles, since this is what I did for my first half marathon and it worked really well
  • Allow some flexibility/moving around of runs in case things come up, which I’m sure they will

With Hal’s Intermediate Plan, he talks about doing runs at a 5k pace, race pace, and then intervals. Here’s what I’m doing for each of those:

  • 5k pace – 6.5 mph
  • Intervals – 7.0 mph
  • Race pace – 6.3 mph

If I am able to maintain 6.3 mph on race day, which is a 9:31 pace, I will finish the half in 2:04:45, cutting over 11 minutes off my time from my first race. I will be very happy to finish with anything under 2:06, and pleased with myself for finishing under 2:10. Here’s a really awesome Pace Calculator tool that I used to figure all that out. 🙂

Here’s a link to my training plan spreadsheet. My basic strategy for adjusting the plan to suit my needs was to cut out at least one of the easy runs per week, and sometimes two if there were 3 easy runs for that particular week. I tried to keep all the speed work/long runs/pace runs as is, and then adjust the other ones accordingly. This plan also comes with built-in flexibility, because I know some things will come up where I won’t be able to run the plan exactly and might have to switch around some days, and I’m OK with that!

Also, I’m planning on doing most of my training inside on the treadmill, even though the race itself will be outside. I’m hoping things warm up a bit by the end of March, and I’m also planning on trying to do a few of the long runs outside to prepare myself for race day. That said, I really don’t love running in the cold. I like running outside way more than running inside when the weather permits, but I don’t want to force myself to go outside to run in the cold because I know I won’t be happy and then I’ll start hating training. To prepare myself adequately, all of my treadmill runs will be done at 1.0 incline, which should account for some of the wind drag of running outside.

Also, I am not sure how my weight loss will go once I get into the later weeks of training. I’ve had a few emails from people asking me about that and whether I’m going to be disappointed if I do gain weight and if I gained weight while training for my first half. So, to respond to some of those questions:

  • I don’t know if I gained weight during training for my first. I wasn’t really keeping that close track of my weight because I wasn’t following Weight Watchers. If my weight did fluctuate, it wasn’t too dramatic in either direction.
  • Listening to my body’s hunger signals is going to be more important now than ever before. I don’t want to restrict myself so that I’m hungry – thats a dangerous thing when you’re training to run long distances. I’m not sure whether I’m going to eat all of my activity points or not, but I’ll keep you posted as training progresses and I assess my hunger levels.
  • I don’t want to gain weight, but training for this half is going to take the front burner so to speak rather than losing weight. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem during these first few weeks of training because the distances for running aren’t too much longer than I’ve been used to running. After I get into 8+ mile runs though, I know I’m going to have to fuel myself more than I normally do.
  • I realize this doesn’t really answer any questions, but bottom line is I’m going to play it by ear. 🙂

I am pretty excited to have my plan set in stone and am feeling really good about it and about crushing my time from my first half!

Have you ever done a road race and are you currently training for anything? If you’re a runner or walker, do you prefer the treadmill or being outdoors in winter weather?

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51 Responses

  1. Kudos to you for waking up early before work and getting your runs out of the way! I wish I could get my workouts in before work, but I just can’t get up. I don’t enjoy running on the treadmill at all and definitely prefer outside running. Keep you up the good work!

  2. Looks like a great plan! I started the shred yesterday and its a great strength workout…very short and sweet but to the point! Can’t wait to get my HRM! 🙂

  3. I am doing my second half in may, very excited!

    I hate the treadmill so much. Even though it’s cold, I run outside as long as the sidewalks aren’t icy.

    Good luck with your training!

    • Yeah icy sidewalks are definitely no good. I think long runs are going to drive me insane on the treadmill so I will probably head outside for them once they get longer. We’ll see what happens!

  4. Hey Beth! I’m currently training for a half in March too! (My first! eep! The NYC half on 3/20!) I’ve been doing my weeknight runs on the treadmill and my long runs outside. Just wanted to offer a tip: I’ve been setting the treadmill to random hills on level one rather then a steady incline of 1. I find it varies more and much like outside you have tough moments but flatter easier ones too. Good luck!

    • That’s a great idea! Maybe I’ll try that on one of my runs this weekend… Definitely not during the intervals I have scheduled tomorrow – I would die!!

  5. I also really struggled with my easy 3 this morning. Some days are rough for no reason.
    Sidenote – I am going to the lunchtime meeting today because I’m hoping work will be cancelled tomorrow. I know we will probably only get 1″ but I’m being optimistic 🙂 Let me know when u end up going.

    • I actually just ran to WI but couldn’t stay for the meeting. I lost 2 lbs!! I didn’t want to go tonight since it might snow, and i hate the leader at lunch tomorrow, so…

  6. Beth, it’s hard to imagine that running three miles could ever be “easy.” Way to go on waking up early to work out! You are seriously doing so awesome =) By the way, I think you can definitely train for a race on a treadmill, but I think it might help to set it on some sort of incline.

    • Trust me – I was there too. I couldn’t even run for 90 seconds when I first started. And today, it was NOT easy, but sometimes it is. You’ll get there!

  7. Ah, the morning workout dilemma! I have 2 morning workout days – Thursday and Saturday – because that’s when my running group meets! I seriously wouldn’t get up if I was running on my own! I do want to work out more in the morning though – if only my bed weren’t so darn comfy!

    I’m currently training for the Sarasota Half Marathon. As for treadmills, I avoid them at all costs – but I live in FL so I don’t need to dodge snow or anything like that!

    • That’s a great idea to establish the days beforehand. I might try that! And I’m jealous you’re in FL and don’t have to worry about snow/ice. It can get in the way!

      • This time of year in FL is great for running! It starts to get bad in the summer though – then we have to wait for the sun to do down (or before it comes up) to go for a run. Otherwise it’s just too hot & humid!

  8. I definitely like only having 3 solid days of running and then 1 or 2 where I can decide if I want to include it during my crosstraining sessions or not… it’s a good way to keep from burnout in my opinion!

    Good luck with your plan! It looks like a winner. 🙂

  9. I’m contemplating signing up for my first half for this may…but i’m scared!!!

    • DO IT!!! I think the half is the perfect distance because it really pushes you and tests your endurance but its not so long that it wrecks your body like a full marathon can.

  10. as someone who is training for a marathon in Canada since November… let me tell you.. winter running is “special”. Its really good to have the option of the treadmill on days when you just can’t bear it. I also am not a fan of running indoors, but when its either running inside or not running at all, its the best bet.
    I think Winter is just relative. whats COLD to a Florida runner is downright balmy to me… but what matters is that you find what works for you!

  11. Hey Beth! I was wondering about your HRM..does it track distance? I am contemplating buying one and would like it to track distance when running outdoors. I also run on an elliptical when the weathers cold and it sounds like the GPS models don’t work with indoor running. I want it to function in both scenarios. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Hey Lisa! Unfortunately the Polar HRM does not track mileage, just calorie burn. For me, when I use it on the treadmill or doing the elliptical or doing the shred, its awesome. When I run outside, I use walkjogrun.net to map my runs so I know the distance, but most of the runs in my area I know pretty well so I don’t need the GPS function. I loooove the Polar. Love it. 🙂

      • I have a Garmin Forerunner305 – it tracks mileage and has a HRM. For indoor workouts, the HRM works fine – you just turn the GPS function off since it won’t get satellite reception, but it’ll still calculate your calorie burn & all that. (I’ve heard about getting “foot pods” for it too, so when you’re on a treadmill you can still get a mileage total, but I don’t have one of those.)

        • Thanks Theresa! I didnt know that you could just turn off GPS function indoors. Sounds perfect.

          • Ohh I didn’t know that either! The only problem I have with the Garmin 305 is that it does not calculate calorie burn off of heart rate, but rather your weight/height/age. This is a lot less accurate in general, but thats the only downfall for me.

            Here is the Garmin I have which is on sale at Amazon.com for $128 w free shipping!: http://tinyurl.com/4wjvbt2

  12. I am currently training for my 3rd half-marathon and I’m using Hal Higdon’s intermediate plan too. I prefer running outside, but I have a treadmill in case it’s dangerous, dark, or way too cold.

  13. Your half plan looks great. I love that people are working these plans to their own schedule and body! I’m doing my first half in May, so I look forward to watching your journey!

    • Ohh good luck to you! Running my first half was so awesome because my only goal was to finish. Now that I have a time goal, I’m worried it won’t be as fun. But we’ll see..

  14. I am training for my first marathon, and will be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April. Right now I am training on the treadmill, but come March I will start training outdoors.

    • I’m running that one too!! I entered the lottery on a whim and got notification that I was selected – then I realized its the weekend after my half…

      • Oh thats exciting to know that you are running the 10 Miler, I will get to meet you. I know you must be stressed out, two long races with only a weeks gap.

  15. Right now I am working on running a 5K. I ran over a mile continuously this morning which is good for me. Running has not come easily to me but I am determined not to give up. It is encouraging that it was not an easy road for you either and now you are training for a half! Maybe I will be there later this year.

    • Congrats!!! I remember the first time I ran for 5 minutes straight, 4x (with a break walking in between each) and I called my mom because I was so freaking excited. Just stick with it and you will get there!! 5k is the perfect distance for a first time race, in my opinion.

  16. i have always wanted to run, interested in a good walk to run training plan that anyone has used?
    Love your blog Beth, great recipes and motivating!

  17. I’ve done a few road races. a 5k, 8k, Hood to Coast plus the Reach the Beach bike ride. I’m currently training for the Portland Century.

    • I really want to do a Century!! I think that is such a huge accomplishment. I need to get through this half marathon and 10 miler before I can even think about anything else, though. 🙂

  18. I’m an early morning exerciser (I get up at 4:30), but it wasn’t easy to get started!! I love having my workouts done first thing in the morning and then I don’t have to worry about squeezing it in at some point during the day.

    Good luck with the 1/2 marathon training!!!

    Jen

  19. Thank you for sharing your plan!

    I run on a treadmill now most days because of the snow and Ice (and the cold). For me it is safety first, although I much prefer running outside.

  20. When I first started training for the 40 mile walk it was January. Even walking, forget running, with ice involved was so scary!

    Good luck!

  21. I still need to figure out my plan for my upcoming half on Feb 27th! Ack! I’m still recovering from Disney on Saturday!

  22. I would love to start training for a half marathon right now but the weather is preventing it, hate that. May start heading to the gym on base to get some running on the treadmill but it’s just not as fun is it?

    Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do great.

  23. Your training plan looks awesome. Good job on the early morning. I can only do it 1 or 2 times a week as well. Right now I am training for a duathlon in February(run,bike,run) and I have a Triathlon in April. I did my first Half Marathon in November and Plan to find another one for this summer.

  24. I am so excited for you to be running another race! I ran my first Half Marathon this year (http://ashandlewplus2.com/2010/10/11/music-city-half-2010/) and really want to do another one in April, thank you for the encouragement. I hope you make your goal. Have a great day
    Ashlee

  25. It’s one of my goals to run a half marathon this year, but probably not until summer. I run on the treadmill now that it’s cold but I prefer to run outside. I find I can’t really get myself to go over 3 miles on the treaddy!

  26. Your plan is so detailed and very clear. I have only run a 5k and have always wondered what the mental prep part of race training looks like. Very cool.

    I am not training for anything besides a 4 hour charity spin, but really need to register for another race because I do love running, but want something to run for.

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