Thursday, March 31, 2011

Favorite Half Marathon Training Program

Ok, so maybe it's a little presumptuous to call this my favorite since it is the only one that I've followed to conclusion and have only ran one half marathon in my life... BUT!!  I have reasons to support my statement.  The first being that when I was putting a schedule together for myself last year, I looked through at least six to eight other programs and felt that this one had the best chance of fitting into my busy life of taking care of two little ones.  Second, my sister-in-law has ran several half marathons and her feeling is that her fastest half came as a result of using this program.  So, I wanted to share.

I did a little research, and the program was written by Bill Pierce.  He originally had created a marathon training program called FIRST, which I understand is also very successful.  He then cooperated with Runners World to create this 10 week half training program.

Some other reasons why I think it is a plan that can be successful:
  1. It's not alot of hassle.  It is running three days a week - so relatively low mileage and reduces the risk of over-training or burnout... or better yet for busy Mom's making three runs work in a week is pretty do-able!
  2. The three runs that you do are specifically purposed to give you the most benefit.  Speedwork makes you faster; tempo runs raise your lactate threshold, enabling you to hold a faster pace; and long runs increase endurance.
    • Speed sessions vary between 400s, 800s, and 1600-meter repeats.
    • Tempo runs build up from two miles to eight miles at faster than your normal pace, and faster than your targeted half-marathon pace.
    • Long runs are done slightly slower than your targeted half-marathon pace but not as slow as you might typically run for a long run.
  3. The times for each run are tailored specifically for your goal finish time.  It gives you the exact paces to try and hit for your runs.
  4. Cross-training is encouraged but not required to hit your target pace.  The plan recommends that you take one or two rest days and cross train for 30 to 40 minutes on the other days, gradually upping the intensity as you get fitter.
So... I can attest that this works.  I did not do any of the cross training but was pretty good about getting in my three runs.  The last three weeks of the program I struggled getting all of my runs in, but as the program has a two week taper, it did not hurt me much as I still finished 11 minutes UNDER my goal time!

I created a training program page with the details of the plan; choosing your goal time, setting your target paces, and the actual 10 week schedule.  I thought it might be nicer to have on a page without all of my above ramblings!  Let me know if you find it as successful of a plan as I did or if you made adjustments for yourself that made it better for you!

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