Exercise! - best way to prepare for a half marathon

11-18-2010, 06:11 PM
Okay all, I'm just looking for a bit of reassurance that I'm not totally crazy.

I'm looking for some advice on my training schedule for a half marathon I signed up for next June 18th. Over the last six months I've gone from walking only to actually being able to jog (4.5 mph) a mile, 3 times a week. I was looking for a way to encourage keeping up with my workouts and to put a goal to them, so I signed up for a half marathon.

What I did is make a schedule based on 3 times a week run (I have time built into my schedule that makes those 3 times really easy to run, otherwise excuses creep in), and increase my distance 8-10% most weeks all the way through june. I Included the marathon in my final week's mileage, so that I don't totally kill the 10% barrier. :)

I will admit that it sounds really intimidating, because twice before the marathon I'll actually be aiming to hit 12 miles.

I'm not worried about making the marathon, I can walk just about indefinitely at 3.5 mph, I was just really hoping to be able to job most/all of it.

So: if you were me, what would you tweak? Should I spread out my mileage over more days, or is it better to go for longer and take breaks in between? I do strength training also and don't do legs on running days, are there things I should do with that? I know about being generally hydrated also.

Oh, and most of this training will probably be on a track/treadmill. I live in alaska where it's cold and icy.

11-18-2010, 06:20 PM
Slow increases in distance worked for me. I used the Hal Higdon training program. Don't worry too much about speed at this point - just finish.


Mine was four times a week running, with shorter runs during the week and then long runs on Saturday or Sunday with a rest day afterward. It's pretty awesome to run 10 miles - it was a major mental milestone for me. If you run 12, you'll know that the half will be a piece of cake.

Listen to your body, stretch well. Pay attention to your energy level during the long runs. Running longer than about an hour, I ended up needing a gel - a 100 calorie sugar/salt pack - it made a huge difference. (Since you'll be on a treadmill, water will be accessible as will food and a bathroom.)

Good luck! I love the half marathon.

11-18-2010, 06:46 PM
Good for you - it's great to have a goal to work towards.

Like you I was new to running and felt having a race to work to kept me motivated. I did my first half marathon last year, since then I've done 3 halfs this year and just did the New York marathon last week.

It's best to follow a proven schedule rather than make up your own. Here's one you might find useful http://www.achillmarathon.com/BeginnersSchedule07.pdf Also, it's not just about increasing distance, it's important to do speed training (known as fartlek), hills and resistance work as these help to strenghten your leg muscles. As you increase your mileage this is very important.

"Marathon, from start fo finish" by Sam Murphy, published by A&C Black was my bible. I simply went as far as the half marathon distance in its schedule first. It helped in providing advice on stretching, what to eat, recover periods etc which I hadn't a clue about when I started.

Best of luck with the training, it's hard to articulate how wonderful you feel when you cross the finish line - it'll make all the training worthwhile - that's on top of how much fitter you'll be and how great you'll look.

11-18-2010, 08:46 PM
Hi Runnerchemist, I did see hal higdon's site online but I can't yet run 3 miles at a time or for 30 minutes straight (well I haven't done it yet!) so I was hesitant to do that. I did print out his training schedule for training for a 5K and half marathon and thought about just adding the weeks together, but as I said I have 3 days a week that I can guarantee I'll be able to run, and I have a different number of weeks till my half than equals out between the two race programs he has posted.

Thanks bridie that's a schedule I hadn't see before. I'm really noticing a pattern with these schedules that's similar so I guess I should find something I like and go with that. And thanks for the book suggestion, I'll see if we have it at the library.

I have no idea what a gel is. Is it like a health food bar in yogurt form or something?

11-19-2010, 09:33 AM
Way to go signing up for your first half!

I second the recommendation for Hal Higdon's plan. Can you start his 5K program, then do the 10K, then do the half marathon in order to build up your endurance? I don't recall how long each program is, if there would be enough time to do all three before June. However, there's a reason he suggests being able to run an hour before you start the half marathon program -- you need a base of endurance to build on. Also, notice how most half marathon programs will have you increase mileage for a few weeks, then back down for a week, then bump up again? You might want to rethink increasing mileage every week. Backing off now and then helps your body recover, prevent injury, etc.

Here's some info on GU gels (http://www.guenergy.com/products/gu-energy-gel). The idea is that it's easily-digestible, quick energy. There are lots of different products out there -- even "sport" jelly beans (tho the guys at the running store told me the jelly beans are the "worst" kind of sugar, and that the GU gels are better). I resisted gels for a long time because I thought they sounded gross. Then I tried one and guess what -- the vanilla tastes like frosting! I swear, sometimes I'm motivated to run longer just so I can rationalize having a gel. :D

Keep us posted on your progress!

11-19-2010, 10:31 PM
wow....actually I just checked, his 5k and 10k training plans are each 8 weeks, and his half marathon plan is 12 weeks. So that means 28 weeks. It's 30 weeks till my half marathon so I guess just following his ideas with maybe an extra week 8 of each the 5 and 10 k plans would work perfectly.

Thanks everyone!

11-20-2010, 09:19 AM
Thanks ladies for your posts...it's because of this thread and the OP's positive "thinking ahead" that I too have decided to start training for Hal's 1/2 marathon. I've just only recently (last week) worked my way up from running 30 seconds straight to running 3 miles straight so I think this plan is perfect for me.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M DOING THIS...the body is amazing...isn't it? Thanks again Ladies!:carrot:

11-20-2010, 01:08 PM
Remember to listen to your body - this is a lot of stress - and stretch well. Running has helped me make very positive changes in my life, and I wouldn't have made it though graduate school without it. It does great things for my stress level and outlook on life. Not to mention that the people I have met have been really warm and accepting.

GOod luck to you both!

11-20-2010, 01:37 PM
thanks everyone, and thanks joyfulloser, that's awesome that you've made so much progress. Yay Us!

11-20-2010, 01:44 PM
Love this thread!

I recently joined the running world, too.

I did my first 5k recently, and enjoyed crossing the finish line so much that I will be signing up for an 8k in March.

If all goes well, I'll keep on increasing my goals until I get to a half Marathon, like you!

Keep ups posted on your progress, I'd love to know how it goes once you get to the increased distance runs.

The longest I've ever run consecutively (without walking) is 7 miles, so I know I've got to have some potential. Sounds like you're on your way, too, atreyyena! :)

11-20-2010, 04:54 PM
thanks so much, I never expected such positive encouraging responses!

(this is 3fc, I should know better, right? :) )

I can only dream of when I can complete 7 miles. But I know I'll get there as long as I just make the time. I'm tired of being the person who talks about everything they want to do and stops, I want to be the person who goes out and does it.

11-20-2010, 09:31 PM
I just ran my first half marathon last weekend and I had been training for it for 16 weeks. I can tell you that there are numerous ways to train and you just have to find what works for you. The only thing that I can say would be manatory would be at least 1 long run every week that increases in milage every week.

When I decided to run my half I was running 4 xs a week with 5 miles being the furthest I'd ever run and my pace was about 5 mph. I trained continuing at 4xs a week with Sunday's being my long run. I ran my 1/2 at a 10:39 pace, which is awesome considering I started at 12:00.

My biggest tip is
1) Eat properly, listen to your body especially when your milage increases, and don't be afraid of pasta


2) Don't freak out if you don't lose much while training. Many people don't lose weight while training for 1/2 marathons and marathons. Usually because they are eating so much more, but in a dieter's case it's probably because they aren't eating enough. I didn't lose hardly anything while I was training. I lost about 3 lbs over the first couple months and then 3 lbs at the very end when I tapered my milage the two weeks before the big race. I will say however, that I was pretty much at my goal so you will likely lose more in the begining before the milage really picks up than I did.

It was probably one of the most rewarding experiences of this entire journey for me and I'm so excited for you to take this on. The training was challenge but made me feel fantastic about myself and really made me fall in love with running. And race day, well that was just exhilerating. I'm hoping to continue at 20 mile per week schedule during maintenance and then in probably May/June start training for the Chicago Rock n Roll in August.

Good luck!

11-20-2010, 10:34 PM
I went with a profressional training schedule. Hal Higdons Novice Half. I actually did the entire schedule and repeated the last 3 weeks before my first half marathon in Sept! It worked great for me and I know many others with success with his free program. Give it a try!

11-20-2010, 10:37 PM
Oh and dont freak out that you cant run the entire distance yet. As you train and run more you will get stronger! If you actually start his program at the start of the year, you can then go back and repeat some of the schedule till you hit half marathon date! When I started my training program, I couldnt run 4 miles, by the end of the program I ran the entire thing! You will have enough time to get stronger, Promise!