By Kimberly Gunning
Have you ever noticed how many people eagerly jump on the bandwagon for an idea that initially seems ‘totally fun?’ “Let’s run a half marathon!” So many people want to be able to say they’ve done it, but when the training is in full swing, some begin to fall off the wagon and get left behind.
Staying on top of a well-designed training plan may be daunting for beginners, and quite possibly not-so-fun on a day-to-day basis, but it will pay off in the end! I mean, a half marathon isn’t supposed to be all easy, right? As long as you know where to find a training plan and how to utilize it, the rest is up to you!
For those looking for a hands-on, interactive training method, a local training group may be the way to go. David Manthey, Runner’s Edge of the Rockies coach, works with beginner to advanced-level runners training for races of their choosing. He has a plethora of training tools and standardized plans for distance races throughout the year. He is also able to customize these plans to fit individual needs and goals. Weekly group runs, speed workouts and core exercises are included in the program, giving many the motivation and accountability to keep up with their plans.
Training groups may not always work out for everyone, especially when your schedule is hectic. Even if you’re training on your own, there are many wonderful resources to refer to.
Google, “half marathon training plans” (or whichever distance you are training for). Seriously. Try it. The results will seem endless! Not all training plans are created equally, however, and you may need to sift through quite a few to find one that meets your needs.
A few things to consider when researching your training plan:
1. If you are completely new to running, a walk-run plan may be one to look into. The walk-run intervals will lengthen your workouts and increase endurance until you are able to transition to running the entirety of a workout.
2. If you have minimal experience running, but can hold a steady pace for a few miles, consider adding a designated day each week for cross training, in order to strengthen other muscles and keep the training interesting. This may include swimming, a spin class, yoga class, etc…
3. If you are a regular, recreational runner looking to run faster, be sure to include weekly speed workouts in order to increase your strength and endurance and break from the traditional pace.
4. For distance events, increase your long run each week. Runners typically designate a weekend day as their ‘long run day,’ so that they have plenty of time to rest afterwards, but do what works best for you. One long run increasing by about one mile each week will allow your body to get used to the distance with a lesser risk for injuries.
Whether you plan to train three to four days a week, or six or seven, be sure to schedule rest days as to not overwork yourself leading up to the big event! Most training plans will include one or two weeks of tapering, decreasing millage, before race day to rest your legs.
Finally, log your training! Keep track of what you do each day so that you are able to evaluate your progress. Most importantly, logging your training will keep you accountable when there is no one else around to do so. When your training plan says to run seven miles, run seven miles! A blank space in your training log for where you were to run seven miles isn’t going to let you forget.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
Daniels' Running Formula, Second Edition, Jack Daniels, PhD (Available in stores)
Nathan Training Log + (Available in stores!)