Today, I start training for my half marathon at the end of April. The last half marathon I ran was not good. It was as awful race, I didn't train consistently and at the end of the race, my Garmin told me I had actually run 14.5 miles. For those of you that maybe don't know, a half marathon is "only" 13.1 miles. It was just bad.
This year, I'm going to try focus and train well. I've run 3 full marathons in my life and it's weird because they totally warp your brain. I think that the reason I did so poorly in my last half marathon was because I sort of discredited the short runs. 3 miles? I can do that, I think I'll just skip today. But 3 miles is a lot and it's an important part of the plan to keep your legs conditioned to run long distances.
12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan:
Monday - Spinning
Time: 30-60 minutes
It's important to do some cross training while training. It keeps your cardio up, while giving your body a little break from running. I'm really into spinning right now, so I choose that as my cross training. You could also do the elliptical, rowing machine or swimming.
Tuesday - Short Run
Distance: 3-5 Miles (build up to 5) Just as I mentioned above, it's important to get a few short runs in each week to keep your legs conditioned. I'll start at 3 miles and then add a mile every 4 weeks, up to 5 miles. You could also add 0.5 miles every 2 weeks if that works better for you and your body.
Wednesday - Strength Training
Focus: Upper Body & Core The strength training (for me) is the easiest to skip, but it's probably up there as one of the most important pieces of a training plan. You use your entire body when you're running, and actually having a strong upper body & core can help improve your times and make the running a little easier on your legs.
Thursday - Interval Running
Distance: 2-4 Miles Interval training can be done at any speed, really. It just needs to be slower, then faster, then slower, then faster. You could walk for 5 minutes and run for 5 minutes. You could run slow for 5 minutes and then speed up for the next 5. OR, you could run hills. The important part is to challenge your body for short spurts and to keep your heart rate up.
Friday - Strength & Stretch
Yoga class is perfect for this kind of training day. I will either do a yoga class, or a 30 minute weight class at my gym.
Saturday - Long Run
Distance: 4-10 miles Long runs are the most important part of training. If at all possible, never skip a long run. It takes your body time to get used to the wear & tear that comes along with running long distances and they are also huge confidence boosters.
Sunday - Rest Day!
Rest days are so awesome after a long week of training. I always enjoy them so much more when I've done all I needed to do during the week.
I am certainly not an expert on this stuff, but I've been running for a few years and have a few big races under my belt. I've pulled together this plan by piecing together other training plans I've done. I chose a realistic plan for my body and life, and went from there.
A great running resource for beginners (or anyone really) is HalHigdon.com. The main thing is go get a good pair of running shoes, listen to your body and just do your best.