Reflections on a Half Marathon: Training

So far I’ve written about two things that really worked well for me as I tackled my first half marathonmy kit and my fueling strategy. Now, for the third part in this series, let’s talk about what didn’t work so well for me, shall we?

What didn’t work? My training method.

It seems a little funny to say that my training didn’t work, considering that I was able to finish the race and that I finished faster than I thought I would. So I guess in a way it kind of worked… except that I didn’t really train. Not properly, anyway. It’s not that I didn’t try! I just, well… the road to hell is paved with good intentions, isn’t it?

As much as I love Runner’s World, I didn’t want to shell out $$ for one of their training plans. My running club has a free training plan on their website – one that incorporates their Tuesday speed workouts and Thursday tempo runs, which I appreciated since I took part in those anyway – but it called for an 8-mile long run in the first week, which I found more than a little intimidating considering I hadn’t even run a 10K yet. Hal Higdon’s novice 1 plan looked pretty good, but it didn’t allow my Shammies events to fit in seamlessly and I was a bit too lazy to work it out properly. Rae was awesome and sent me one she had worked out too, and it looked much more my speed than the others… but yeah. I found it incredibly hard to stick to any of the plans, despite my best intentions.

In fact, looking back through my blog posts, as well as my Garmin Connect and MapMyRun logs, my “training plan” seemed to consist of a lot of faffing about, then a panic a few weeks out when I realized I hadn’t run more than 7 miles, two long runs a week apart in which I upped my mileage too much too soon, some hardcore tapering, and then my half marathon. Because I’m feeling generous, I thought I’d put this ingenious plan together in case anyone would like to take the Dana’s Faffing About 12-Week Approach to Half Marathon Training (TM):

half_marathon_training

You’re welcome.

For real though, I did not train properly for this half, and because of that, I’m surprised that I ran it as well as I did. I chalk that up to hefty glycogen stores, glorious fall weather, and the intense desire to just get to the end so I could stop running.

But, if I ran that half more-or-less decently despite a lack of real training, imagine how much better I could run a future half if I *did* actually train! The idea that’s floating around in my head now is that I should sign up for a super cool half that I really want to run, that’s at least 3 months in the future, and then be smart like Rae and develop a training plan that incorporates Shammies workouts and things I need to work on (like hills!) and then just suck it up and do it, and try my hardest to stick to it. And then see what kind of a difference it makes when I run the half. It’s almost enough to push me over the edge to sign up for my second!

Do you like to follow training plans, or do you blaze your own trails?

Any suggestions for a fun half marathon to work towards?

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13 thoughts on “Reflections on a Half Marathon: Training

  1. I have used Hal Higdon and jenny Hadfield (?) Plans. Usually I modify them pretty heavily, though. Sometimes runners world has free plans in their magazines, but not often.

    • I’m definitely realizing that modification is key with most of these plans. I hadn’t heard of Jenny Hadfield’s (or thereabouts) before… I’ll have to look into that! And I’ll certainly keep my eyes peeled in issues of RW. Between everything I’m sure I can cobble together something that will work 🙂

  2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that has a hard time sticking to the plan, too!! I laughed out loud reading your “honest” plan up there, because it is eerily similar to my last 2 half training plans. But hey – we finished, and we live and learn!

    PS – I am hereby stealing your use of the phrase “faffing about”. Because that is exactly what I do, I just never knew there was a phrase for it! Thanks! 😀

  3. I always start out really strong, get super self-congratulatory and “deserve to rest cause I’m doing so well” and then everything goes to hell and I only run a 9 mile long run before the half. I think I could get a sub 2 half if I actually, really, truly followed a training plan with all of the scheduled runs and cross-training, but I’m just not sure I could ever actually do it.

    • Ohh man, the “I deserve a rest because I’m KILLING it” thing happens to me anytime I start falling into a good routine. It’s bad. I feel like unless I shell out for a personal trainer or something (which I don’t think I’d ever do!)… let’s just say I’d be really surprised if I managed to stick strictly to a training plan 🙂

  4. Haha, your training plans seems a lot like mine! Woo for beating Mario though!

    I’m planning to run a half in May next year. I’m running a 10k in March and then from there hopefully I’ll keep on training up until my half. I hope I don’t stop running then start again a month before the race like usual! Woe.

    Corinne x

    • It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has a “training plan” like this! 😉
      I was pretty pumped about beating Mario, to be honest… even if it was the old SNES one that’s way easier than anything newer!
      I like the idea of doing a 10K before the half to sort of kick-start things. Hopefully the plan will work! 🙂

  5. I always start training plans with good intentions but slack off part way through. I always modify plans because a lot of them call for running on Monday or Friday and I rarely ever do that. Monday maybe in spring and summer but not Friday. I am actually making my own for my back to back halfs right now. Not too sure how that’s gonna play out!

  6. For my last half I followed the Nike plus coach training plan for advanced training. My goal was to get my half done in sub 2:00. I stuck to that plan pretty faithfully (just alternating some of the days…for instance my rest day I changed to a Friday (or any day I didn’t want to run during the week) and I would run long on the Saturday). Since I have just upgraded my watch to a Garmin, I downloaded one of the level III training plans on Garmin connect (I’m not due to start until Dec 22, but the plan looks pretty snazzy (hills included)). I have been training for the last seven weeks for my next half (Dec 6) and let me say I really slacked up with this training….weather sucked most days (very cold) and wasn’t motivated enough to run by myself (usually I have no problem running alone but I guess with the colder temperatures it was a no go).

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