Running a Half Marathon
We cruised through the 5 km...the 10 km involved a little more speed and development, but we crushed that one to...so what's next on the "bucket list" for ones running goals...the half marathon. The first step you need to make is committing to a Race and get yourself signed up…that way you have accountability. Give yourself 12-14 weeks to prepare as this gives you a safety-net in case of minor setbacks along the way and also allows the body and mind to adapt to the continual progression in mileage.
Picking a destination should be a priority…if you thinking of taking the family choose a race where they can hang at the beach or near a theme park…this way your spouse is happy and the kids can get excited about the trip. If you have a half marathon in your neck of the woods and you can get to train on the course…that could be a plus in your preparation. Just remember that whatever event you choose…this is going to be your goal for the next 12-14 weeks, so make sure it’s one that is going to inspire you to train.
Next, find a training plan that suits your needs. The body adapts and improves at an efficient rate if you make small changes along the way. The key to going longer and stronger is to have the wisdom to start your plan from where you are rather than where you want to be. Your starting point should closely match that of your current training plan and slowly build from there. If you join a Group…make sure you don’t get over-zealous and increase mileage, frequency or intensity to fast…this is a big red-flag for overtraining and injury. Less is better when getting started…your body will pay you back in dividends down the road as you progress and get stronger. Making the transition from the 5-10 km distance is a huge step, so don’t expect to become a half-marathoner overnight…you will most likely roll through good and not-so-good training days…but at the end of the day with consistency and perseverance you will prevail. Therefore, listen to your body…if it aches take some active rest or if necessary complete days off. Thinking those aches and pains are part of the training plan and that you should work through them is a big no-no. Take some days off immediately...and I assure you that 9 out of 10 times the pain or ache will subside or go away.
Once again you need to diffenriate between your effort levels...easy/recovery runs are there to help you do exactly that...recover. This allows your harder workouts to be done at the required paces and show progression towards your goal. Stick with your weekly plan and don't think that more is better…I promise you it isn’t. As a Runner…strength training can help improve muscle balance, running efficiency and posture. You do not need to hit the weight room for hours each day…but a consistent 30-40 minutes three times a week would go a long way in making a huge difference in how you feel when your body starts to tire. Remember, the goal is to work on strength and not building bulky muscle.
During some of your Sunday long runs take the opportunity to practice for race day…consider them a dress rehearsal and dial in your hydration during the run, the timing of your pre-run nutrition and fueling on the fly. When you start your taper into race day…reduce the volume, but keep the intensity level up to a certain degree. This way you can prevent coming down with a cold. Runners tend to shut-down in the final two weeks before there race and as a result their immune system shuts down to…which is never a good thing.
One thing you can control on race day is your pace. With the excitement of race day and feeling tapered and rested…the tendency is to go out hard and fast and blowing up. Negative splitting a race is not only cool, but when you pass those that left you in the first half of the race…you’ll feel motivated and energized to push to the finish.
Based on the amount of time you have to train for a half marathon, a 12-14 week schedule should suffice in getting one ready to race…there are 4 key workouts which should be incorporated in your weekly schedule:
1) Long Aerobic – this is aimed at improving aerobic endurance, strength and fatigue resistance. It should ideally be completed over an undulating terrain and at a moderate/comfortable pace. The distance can range from 90 minutes – 2 hours …starting out on the lower end and building to the top end during the 12-14 weeks.
2) Speed – these efforts are aimed at improving your maximal speed and running economy. The speed sessions will range anywhere from 800m - 1,600m repeats. Allow for active recovery. These workouts will help boost your VO2 max, sustainable running speed and help with pacing.
3) Tempo – are longer intervals done at a speed around your half marathon race pace. The aim here is to improve anaerobic threshold, strength and running economy. If you do these intervals too hard, you negate the purpose of the workout.
4) Recovery/Easy – these runs are performed in a fatigued state, and therefore also boost fitness despite being shorter and slower than key workouts
Enjoy your Preparation for the Half Marathon…and master it before taking on the Marathon.
About the Coach
Darren De Reuck has been coaching runners for almost 20 years. Beginning in 1988, he coached club level as well as elite runners in his native South Africa. In 1993, he began serving as a training partner to his wife, Colleen De Reuck, always advising the Coach and later becoming her coach.
From 2000 – 2002, Darren headed up the official training club for one of the largest 10 km road races in the country, The Bolder Boulder. Drawing from his success with the Bolder Boulder Training Club, he formed The Boulder Striders in July 2002, a running group that caters to runners of all abilities. In September of the same year, he formed The Running Republic of Boulder. http://http://www.runningrepublic.com
This group is a USATF affiliated competitive running club and includes runners who are competitive at all age-group levels. Darren has served as the head coach for both of these clubs.