The last half marathon I ran was in October of 2004. I was a regular runner at the time and used no structured training program to prepare. All I did was keep up with my regular runs and complete one long run a week adding on a mile each week until I was able to run 11 miles. I never ran more than 11 miles until the day of the actual half marathon. Many running experts say if you can run 10 miles, you can complete a half and I found this to be very true. Once you know you have a short two or three miles to go, adrenaline and excitement kicks in long enough for you to finish.
This time around, my program will be a little more structured. Age, ACL surgery, and mommy hood make it necessary. I have done some investigating about the training programs out there and found that there are a lot of different ones available, yet none exactly the same. I started with Jeff Galloway, of course, and checked out his program for beginning runners. He has a few key components, one of which includes both walking and running to complete the race. The programs from Runners World start a beginning runner as someone who can run five miles without stopping. I am not there yet so I thought even that program may be a little too much for me at this point. One of my favorite programs comes from Fitness magazine that claims to have you ready for a half marathon in eight short weeks. That is if you are a beginner and able to run at least two miles without stopping. The plan is legitimate and doable in the sense of time commitment, which is very important for me and my lifestyle.
You may be thinking, “Spit it out! So what training program should be used?” The lack of endorsement for any of them is not an accident. From all of this, I was able to come to some conclusions as to what training program is best:
1. Be comfortable with running at least two or three miles before you think about starting a training program.
2. Find one that fits your goals for the race you are running. There are all types of programs out there from running six days a week to only three. All claim to have you ready for that race. In my case, I just want to finish at a decent time, maybe faster than my last half. I don’t want to win, therefore, a six day a week training program is a little intense for me.
3. Once you find one you like, stick to it. I would bet that all of the ones out there will get you into race ready material. Jumping back and forth or switching half way through will only cost you time and take away from your training.
4. Listen to your body. It doesn’t matter if the training program you have chosen requires you to add on two miles this week. If your body says you can only add one on, trust it. Pushing it will only cause injury (I speak from experience; remember last week’s post).
5. No matter where you live, on those long runs where you are increasing your distance, find a place you LOVE to run. A beautiful scene does wonders for your mind and motivation when you are pushing that extra mile or two.