This is mostly for half-marathon as the example, but you can use this for any distance race.
This is probably the simplest training, and most easily followable since it’s easy to adapt to any schedule.
- Monday – short, fast Run
- Tuesday – Cross-train
- Wednesday – Mid-range, easier Run
- Thursday – Cross-train
- Friday – Long run
- Saturday – Off
- Sunday – Off OR Light workout(walking) or stretch workouts, like yoga
The runs will change every week, there will be a short run designated mostly for faster runs, a mid-range run where you run a good middle ground distance at a pace that you can keep up with for the distance, and a long run where you push yourself every week to gain endurance, but you’re running at an easy pace.
If you haven’t been running for a while, you won’t be doing too much running the first 2 – 3 weeks. There will be a run/walk combo happening. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of starting out that way, go for walks the distance you want to run – or if you’re feeling ambitious, double it. So, if you want your short run to be 1 mile you walk 2 miles, and if your mid-range is 2 miles, walk 4 and so on. You will not benefit from taking on too much, I did that and ended up with runners knee and was out for the count.
If you’ve been running steadily for the past few months, let’s say you start off at a 3 mile run for your short, fast run and try to keep it around 30 minutes or less. You do a good 5 miles for your mid-range run, at an easy but now slow pace. And your long run will be 7 miles at first. No need to really put yourself out.
Your cross training can be any other type of workout, be it weight lifting, spinning, zumba, biking, skiing, skateboarding, etc. Anything, really. Weights would be ideal, but keeping your body in shape with something other than your basic cardio will help your body adapt better and faster.
Your short run should probably never reach more than 5 miles, and your midrange should stop around you first long run. So when you get to the point where you mid-range run is 7 miles, try not to go further then that, instead start incorporating different things into those runs like hills or trying different paces out.
Your long run, for a half should reach about 10-11 miles, maybe 12 if you’ve been training for a long time. When you reach that point, you should start tapering your long runs in preparation for the race. I promise, if you can run 10 miles you can run a half. The short, fast runs will help with your body’s ability to push past certain points, and your cross-training will make your muscles stronger and more likely to last longer.
Take Saturday off in case you decide to go out on Friday. 😉 Contingency – you must be prepared for it. So make sure you take your days off on days that work with your schedule, or days where you think you’ll most likely not be working out.
My suggestion for cross-training is to try to take a group class once a week to fulfill it. It’s more fun, and you generally get a good hour-long workout out of it. There generally are several different kinds of group activities at gyms – including water workouts. If you are going to take a cardio class like Zumba or Spinning, try to take a class the same day that utilizes weights or to also lift weights in the weight room.
My best piece of advice is: do what is comfortable. If you’re out on a run and you just aren’t feeling it or your body isn’t happy with you, cut your run short or run slower. Your body is communicating with you, and to over-do it push past it can – and often does – lead to injury. ALSO – make sure you stretch! After every run! Not only will it make you a better runner, but it will prevent injury as well. So try to incorporate a stretching exercise like pilates or yoga every week.
Also, make sure the music you put on your MP3 player has a good beat, and it’s something you’re really into at the time. I promise, putting in slow music will make you run slower. But also, putting in music that’s too fast will make you run faster. I’ve made these mistakes before, so I find music that fits the pace I’m wanting to run and find similar songs.
If you’re anything like me, it’s almost impossible to go on a run without music. I give up almost instantly, and it frustrates me for some reason. There’s nothing to distract me from the aches my body comes up with.
I also cannot stress the need for shoes that work for you. In my are, the Pacific Northwest, South Sound Running is a good store for you to go to and get fitted for shoes. Bring the shoes you normally run in, they will have you run for them and they watch what happens to your feet. I roll my foot from the outside in, which isn’t good so they found 2 pairs of shoes that would help fix this – and you run in every pair you try on. Trust me, also important. They are very patient with you and you will find a pair that is ridiculously comfortable and easy to immediately run in.
So whatever your plan is for your run – whether it’s to finish your first 5k or your first half-marathon, as long as you enjoy yourself and aren’t too hard on yourself when a run doesn’t work out the right way, you’ll succeed.