January is not only a time to think about New Year’s resolutions but also to plan out running cycles and training goals. This year, I’m training alongside the rest of the Glass City Marathon Ambassadors for the half marathon. I’ll be sharing my tips and training log with you which I am really excited about!
PS – did you see the medal reveal?! I love them!
When Do We Start?
Most people use an 8 or 12 week training cycle for a half marathon depending on your current running base and experience. For a 12 week training cycle, Glass City Halfers will start on Sunday January 28th/Monday January 29th. This means that you still have 4 solid weeks of base building before training. Please take advantage of this time to set yourself up for success with your training cycle!
Have you thought about your training plan yet? Do you have your race goal in mind? If you don’t, let’s take this time to get a good plan in place.
Start with Reflection
First, let’s start with some reflection. Where are you in your running journey? Is this your first half marathon or your 15th? How long have you been running? How consistently have you been running recently? What is your comfortable, conversation pace? What is your PR time? What is realistic?
If you have been running consistently and have a recent race time, you can use this to decide your half goal time. I’m going to use myself as an example. Last year in the fall, I ran my new half PR time of 1:58:47. I’ve been running for about 4 years. Although my training has been very inconsistent over the last 2 months, I think that with a solid month of base training I can start back where I left off. My A goal is going to be 1:50, my B goal is 1:55, and my C goal is a new PR.
With my last race, I certainly had the speed but lacked a little in the endurance and mental toughness areas. According to my training paces, I should have come in under 1:55 last time. While 1:50 is a bit of a stretch goal, I think that between 1:50 and 1:55 is pretty realistic.
If you are new to running the half marathon distance, but are experienced at running and have completed a few 10k’s I think that you can use your 10k time to decide on your half marathon goal. My favorite calculator is Jack Daniels. This calculator will tell you comparable race times based on your recent 10k race time.
If you are new to running and have little experience, I would only set the goal of finishing the race and having fun. I can share from experience that just training to run 13 miles for the first time is quite the challenge!
Pick your Plan
These days, there are so many plans out there! They truly run the gamut too. Low mileage, high intensity, high mileage, speed work, tempo work, core training, cross training….there is a plan for it all. Here are a few of the most popular running resources for training plans
What you will find if you look through these plans is that the complexity of the plan will increase as the runner’s experience increases. When you have an ambitious goal, you will need to have a more structured and strenuous plan. Basic plans will usually only prescribe mileage to be run at an easy pace while complex plans will have speed sessions, tempo runs, fast finish long runs and other runs targeted to increase speed or endurance.
Think that’s confusing? Want a personalized plan to meet your goals and your schedule? Want a person to help you with accountability? Hire a running coach to get a fully customized plan. They will help you every step of the way and can make adjustments in your plan to meet your changing needs.
Time for Action
If you aren’t currently set up on a regular running and cross training schedule, now is the time to write something for yourself. Half marathoners should start in the base building phase by running 3-4 times per week. During the week your short runs should be 3-4 miles and your weekend long run should be 5-8 miles. If you are just starting or coming back from a break, start with 2 miles three times a week and build up slowly.
I highly recommend adding in one or two cross training days to improve your aerobic fitness with minimal stress to your legs. Three ideal exercises include: swimming, cycling, and rowing.
My final recommendation is to make a short strength and core circuit that you can fit in 2-3 times per week. Strength training and cross training are so important for runners to decrease injury risk and prevent muscle imbalances. Core work is so important for increasing running efficiency. I share a few recommendations for strength training in my base building blog post but of course, there are many other options available to you!