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Training for my first half marathon


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Okay I am excited and terrified since on Oct. 4 I will be running my first half!  The most I have ever run was 7 miles a month ago but my average run is  2-3 miles.  I am super slow right now.  I have only been running for almost a year.  I am still working on improving my health/fitness.

 

I have looked at different programs to follow but am not sure which one to follow.  I have to listen to my body closely (have RA) and I seem to want to combine two different programs.  Do you have to follow one set program or can you gradually increase miles each week and be okay?  My goal is to finish and I have little doubt I will be able to complete that distance.  I am unsure the best way to get there. 

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I've done a few halves with the "gradually increase mileage each week" option and had good success. For a first I think it's a good plan, if you start wanting to work on time that's when a set plan becomes a bit more important.

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I'm training for my first half in 15 years (last Sat of Oct). Right now my long runs are about 7-8 miles in 90 minutes, my short runs are usually 2.8-3.5 miles for 30-40 minute runs. I generally try not to kill myself on my short runs going for speed, my 5k race time is only around 30 minutes. I think you're right on track to do the half in the fall.

 

The best way to get there is the one you enjoy so I say mix the plans up, I took the one I'm following and moved things around to fit my life. Plan's rarely seem to make into execution so just do what you want\can as long as you a progressing in the right direction. Overall listen to your body, if you need to back off weeks then do it. My plan actually has a taper down week every 3rd or 4th week, I usually try to run a little faster those weeks. 

 

I plan my workouts by time and not distance, my wife is the opposite she hates the thought of running for an hour vs running for 4 miles. It's really all about what works for you. 

 

Looking forward to reading your progress, I'm not gonna lie I'm a little nervous about getting back into the distances after not doing it for so long.

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Suelk,  I'm right there with you.  I'm doing a half in mid-November and haven't been running for long (a couple months).  I know I can finish too, however I recently learned that the half I signed up for has a course time limit of 3 hours and 3 minutes.  Really wish I had as much time as I wanted for my first half marathon (today I completed my 3rd 5K ever).  At my current pace I won't make it, especially since I doubt I can keep up my current pace for 10 more miles.  I too have found lots of different training plans, but they all seem to focus on distance.  Granted that's needed, but apparently I need to also figure out how to work on time too.  Have you stumbled across one that addresses both (even a blog post that gives ideas and insights would be helpful at this point?  I've got 19 weeks so I'm getting a bit worried.

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Suelk,  I'm right there with you.  I'm doing a half in mid-November and haven't been running for long (a couple months).  I know I can finish too, however I recently learned that the half I signed up for has a course time limit of 3 hours and 3 minutes.  Really wish I had as much time as I wanted for my first half marathon (today I completed my 3rd 5K ever).  At my current pace I won't make it, especially since I doubt I can keep up my current pace for 10 more miles.  I too have found lots of different training plans, but they all seem to focus on distance.  Granted that's needed, but apparently I need to also figure out how to work on time too.  Have you stumbled across one that addresses both (even a blog post that gives ideas and insights would be helpful at this point?  I've got 19 weeks so I'm getting a bit worried.

 

A lot of training plans have one long run day, one speed day, and then another day or three of easier runs, like this 12 week one (that starts with a 6 mile long run) from Cool Running: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_4/134.shtml

 

You're probably getting to the point where you want to start building up distance one day per week, rather than keeping all of them the same. You could also start doing some light speed work one day (don't jump into it too fast) - e.g. pick a hillier route or do a bit of Fartlek (which is basically picking a landmark and speeding up a bit until you hit it, then slowing back down to your comfortable pace). 19 weeks is still plenty of time to build up the distance and speed up a bit.

 

Taking regular planned walk breaks (e.g. 10 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking) can improve your time up to some relatively decent paces (e.g. there's people who have used that strategy to qualify for the Boston Marathon). You use slightly different muscles while walking and it lets your heart rate come down.

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Looking forward to reading your progress, I'm not gonna lie I'm a little nervous about getting back into the distances after not doing it for so long.

 

 

 

Thanks so much everyone!  Are you logging your training virtualmonkey?  I would love to follow your progress and you too Karrie.  I definitely run for distance but yeah an hour for 4 miles is not the easiest to digest mentally.  it will get better and I will improve with time/experience is what I keep running through my mind so it is not as daunting.

 

Most plans have said to work on completing the first distance and not worry about time but I see your concern Karrie.  That would stress me out too.  Of course I know I want to finish and not be last either.  LOL  I know someone at work that runs marathons.  She has a training partner that she runs with weekly.  Her partner recently switched to a run/walk in his training and has PR'd his last marathon.

 

For me I am working on distance for sure but I am also using walk breaks as needed for 1-2 minutes.  Until I can run nonstop (which is a goal to be able to run 5 and then 10 miles without a break) I am amazed at how much this helps me complete the distance and not be toast later.  Not that I track time like more serious/skilled runners, afterall I am working merely on distance right now,  I do use an app to track distance and it does show average pace.  Adding a bit of walking increased my pace by 1-2 minutes per mile.  No joke!  I walk briskly but it allows my legs a moment to recover and for me to drop my heart rate.

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I log mine on the Garmin website, use a GPS watch. I can export it to a google doc if you want to see it or if you're on the garmin website I'm under the same username there.

 

The walk\run helps a lot. I can do a 5k in under 30 minutes if I run and walk, b/c my runs are in the 8-9 min mile and the walks are short. If I do a constant pace its closer to 32-33 minutes.

 

I'm doing the 10m in Disney World in Oct too, the time limit is basically a 15 min mile, I was a little worried about it at first but I started adding taper down weeks into my rotations. So every 4th week I go from running 90m - 2 hours down to running for an hour. I noticed I push myself harder during that hour and yesterday I maintained 11 min miles for the whole hour. I also noticed there was a stall out in my training and I couldn't force myself beyond the 4 mile mark. Then just one day went running and did 6.5 miles. Since then its been a pretty steady increase in my mileage or speed from week to week.

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Very cool.  Nope not on the Garmin website.  I keep track on dailymile mostly and now using my battle log.  Lately I have been lax with tracking.  Not so anymore.  Pen and paper along with dailymile really helps me think about my food and how much I do/push myself.  While working toward the needed mileage I will be in Florida missing possibly 2 long runs.  I have accounted for this in the schedule I am working with however I will still be running a couple miles a day in the meantime and maybe a 5 mile run while there.  We are driving there and it seems kind of tricky on how it will all work out.  I do leave it sort of open and I may fit in a mile run one day a week in general.  My husband has been working on sprinting and it is really fun so I may do that  one day a week for no more than a mile.  I had been running  3 days a week after backing off when I found I could not run the original half.  I ran 4 yesterday and it was not unduly hard.  Challenging yes and I was tired but not overwhelming so I feel comfortable going back to how I was doing things.  In looking at my schedule it appears I have a couple weeks built in that I do not run as far before Florida and then while in Florida.  I am curious to see how they help now!

 

Basically here is my plan for the next weeks:

1: Run 2.5mi for 3 days and long for 5

2: Run for 3mi for 3 days and long for 6

3:Run for 3mi for 3 days and long for 7

4: Run for 3mi for 3 days and long for 5

5: Run for 3-3.5mi for 3 days and long for 8

6: Run for 3-3.5mi for 3 days and long for 9

7-8 (Florida): Run 3 miles 3 days each week and 5 one day

9: Run for 3.5mi for 3 days and long for 9

10: Run for 3.5mi for 3 days and long for 10

11: Run for 3.5mi for 3 days and long for 11

12: Run for 3.5mi for 3 days and long for 12

13: Run for 3.5mi for 3 days and long for 13

Taper week into the Half Marathon

 

Of course I am always open to suggestions/critiques/tips.

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That plan seems fine, I know quite a few people who ran 3 days a week, long run on saturday, and finished their first half. I like running on vacation, if you're in town its a nice cheap way to explore the area. I usually ask the hotel staff what area's I should avoid. 

 

Mine is generally something like this, I randomly flip the days around to fit into life or due to the weather.

 

Sunday - Cross-training 30 minutes & strength training

Monday - Easy recovery run 30-45 minutes usually

Tuesday - Rest day or pilates\yoga

Wednesday - Intervals, Hills, Fartlek, usually something with variety. The workout usually dictates the time spent.

Thursday - Cross-training 45 minutes & Strength trianing

Friday - Rest day or pilates\yoga

Saturday - Long runs between 60 minutes (taper weeks) and 2 hours.

 

I like basing my runs on time versus just miles. 15 more minutes sounds easier to me than another mile. My wife is the opposite though, the time drives her crazy she wants a defined goal of X miles in the morning. 

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I had good luck using Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training plan; I'm actually running a half marathon on 10/12 and will be using his Intermediate plan this go around

 

I looked at his plan.  Read one of his books too. Definitely like much of what he had to say.

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That plan seems fine, I know quite a few people who ran 3 days a week, long run on saturday, and finished their first half. I like running on vacation, if you're in town its a nice cheap way to explore the area. I usually ask the hotel staff what area's I should avoid. 

 

Mine is generally something like this, I randomly flip the days around to fit into life or due to the weather.

 

Sunday - Cross-training 30 minutes & strength training

Monday - Easy recovery run 30-45 minutes usually

Tuesday - Rest day or pilates\yoga

Wednesday - Intervals, Hills, Fartlek, usually something with variety. The workout usually dictates the time spent.

Thursday - Cross-training 45 minutes & Strength trianing

Friday - Rest day or pilates\yoga

Saturday - Long runs between 60 minutes (taper weeks) and 2 hours.

 

I like basing my runs on time versus just miles. 15 more minutes sounds easier to me than another mile. My wife is the opposite though, the time drives her crazy she wants a defined goal of X miles in the morning. 

 

I like the distance idea like your wife.  I try and stretch several times a week (slow full body stretching in the evening) and strength training 2-3 days per week.  I bike to work most days.  I am on my feet at work and with little effort can nail 5 miles a day but I still try and walk 2 miles outside of work.  

 

We are visiting my parents so I am running in the mornings before they get up.  We are early risers in general and this is a nice way to enjoy the area and some quiet time.  

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Hi Sue,

 

I am running my first half marathon in August.  Unlike you, I am starting from no exercise at all, so my training plan may be a bit different.  I think the biggest difference is in the last 2 weeks.  The 14 week program I am using starts the taper 2 weeks before the race, with a very light final week before the race.  Most people I have talked to said you don't need to run a full half marathon before the half marathon.  I'll let you know how this taper works for me after August 16th.

 

Week 12:

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday:  XT 40 minutes
Thursday: TR 4 miles
Friday:  Rest
Saturday: ER 11 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 13:

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles + ST
Wednesday:  XT 40 minutes
Thursday: ER 4 miles
Friday:  Rest
Saturday: ER 6 miles
Sunday: R/W 3 miles

Week 14:

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: ER 4 miles
Wednesday:  Rest
Thursday: ER 3 miles
Friday:  Rest
Saturday: ER 2 miles
Sunday: Half marathon!

 

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Definitely let me know how it goes phobucket.  I figured I had time to train up to the distance so that is why I am doing it.  Plus it will give me an extra level of confidence.  However it gives me a cushion if I need to back off mileage.

 

Pretty exciting to think about running a first half marathon.  I can not imagine the relief when I finally cross that line.  Running, walking, crawling or rolling (hopefully not LOL!)...I will get past that line.

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Pretty exciting to think about running a first half marathon.  I can not imagine the relief when I finally cross that line.  Running, walking, crawling or rolling (hopefully not LOL!)...I will get past that line.

 

No one around here seems to understand when I say that. They just look at me like I'm crazy. We all have our reasons and I can't wait to see your race day pictures at the finish line.

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I've always followed Hal Higdon's plans myself; they're very straight-forward and I don't feel like they're too much too fast, personally, so I've always been happy to stick to them.

I actually got to meet him earlier this year, it was quite cool.  I didn't have much to say LOL.  I was just kind of in awe.  Luckily my friend had lots to say to him for me!  He had some very good advice for everybody, the biggest of which is to start out slow.  When you start the race, adrenaline and endorphins will be flying everywhere, it's exciting, it's fun, it's scary - many people start out WAY too fast and then regret it a few miles in.  If it's your first, you might consider starting with a pace group running with your estimated finish time to keep yourself in check.  If you feel good after several miles you can head out on your own (or if you feel a bit crappy start to fall back), but it's very helpful to start with a pace group IME.

 

The biggest thing is to remember to enjoy your run.  And smile when you cross the finish line!

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I've always followed Hal Higdon's plans myself; they're very straight-forward and I don't feel like they're too much too fast, personally, so I've always been happy to stick to them.

I actually got to meet him earlier this year, it was quite cool.  I didn't have much to say LOL.  I was just kind of in awe.  Luckily my friend had lots to say to him for me!  He had some very good advice for everybody, the biggest of which is to start out slow.  When you start the race, adrenaline and endorphins will be flying everywhere, it's exciting, it's fun, it's scary - many people start out WAY too fast and then regret it a few miles in.  If it's your first, you might consider starting with a pace group running with your estimated finish time to keep yourself in check.  If you feel good after several miles you can head out on your own (or if you feel a bit crappy start to fall back), but it's very helpful to start with a pace group IME.

 

The biggest thing is to remember to enjoy your run.  And smile when you cross the finish line!

 

I would be in awe meeting him.  I think I will look for a pace group to help me out.  

 

I could easily take off way too fast.  Again I want to finish and enjoy it.  The big thing for me is training up to the distance or closer to it.  I have met so many people that train to 10 miles or 20 for a full and they always lament on how cruddy they feel later.  To me that extra 3 miles if I only train to 10 seem so intimidating.  I know that works but mentally that completely freaks me out!  

 

I ride a bike to work and see so many runners on my way in.  It is AMAZING how none of them smile and some of the crazy faces I see.  Of course there are times I catch myself making some crazy face and then I make sure to smile.

 

My big goals are to complete the distance, enjoy the entire experience, and definitely to be smiling when I do it!

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Okay I hit what I want for week 1...2.5, 2.75, and 5.0 mile run.  The 5 miler was hard fought but right after it was done and I was walking I felt as if I could do more physically and mentally.  Strange considering the last mile was challenging.  I was convinced I could not do more physically or mentally.  It was hot and around 90%humid on that run and I had to take several short walk breaks (no more than a block).  Storms let loose shortly after I arrived home.

 

Amazing how quickly I forgot that on the "long run days" I am toast afterwards.  However once I was showered, rested a bit, and ate I was then okay playing with sidewalk chalk with my daughter and moving around.  Sometimes afterwards it is too easy to stay down and then end up wiped out for the rest of the day.  When I first get home my legs are none too pleased with me and I am amazed at how tired I feel.

 

This week I would like to fit in 4 runs.

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This week I ran 3x.  A couple 3 mile runs and the 6 mile run yesterday.  Awesome and fun.  The 6 mile run was brutal since I followed a mile loop near my home.  First utility work is being done so the sidewalks are extra challenging, people do not keep their bushes trimmed along walk ways, and the sidewalks are simply old since it is an old neighborhood.  Twisted my ankle Saturday and hurt my foot which made me afraid I could not run on Sunday.  I look forward to running so much.  Luckily everything was okay although a bit more sore on the one leg later after the run.  About .4 miles of the run is all uphill and 0.4 miles all downhill.  Part of the grade is rather steep.  My legs are still getting strong and used to distance so maybe I should keep that loop for the 3 mile days or simply try some hill sprints on either portion of the hill and keep my longer runs to less hilly routes.  I am not going to avoid hills but maybe not so much on the long ones until I improve.  Wowza.  I definitely had to walk some.  Throw in taking my daughter swimming which means swimming with her and playing in the water which is super fun (she is 9) and then biking to work today and I am surprised my legs are not that sore today.

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First utility work is being done so the sidewalks are extra challenging, people do not keep their bushes trimmed along walk ways, and the sidewalks are simply old since it is an old neighborhood.  Twisted my ankle Saturday and hurt my foot which made me afraid I could not run on Sunday. 

 

This is exactly why I run in the street (towards on coming traffic) in my neighborhood. Glad it wasn't anything major and you're able to keep going.

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This is exactly why I run in the street (towards on coming traffic) in my neighborhood. Glad it wasn't anything major and you're able to keep going.

I considered running in the streets.  I think next time I will do that.

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I just saw this thread today.  My (tentative) first Half Marathon will be Oct 4th as well.  I say tentative because I have twice injured myself while training for this distance.  I am using Galloway' s run-walk plan for this one.  We'll see how it goes.

 

Good luck to you!

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I just saw this thread today.  My (tentative) first Half Marathon will be Oct 4th as well.  I say tentative because I have twice injured myself while training for this distance.  I am using Galloway' s run-walk plan for this one.  We'll see how it goes.

 

Good luck to you!

Awesome.  Hopefully you can avoid further injuries and be able to do it!  I have heard good things about that plan as well as Higdon's.  Please let me know how your training is going and how great it was finishing your first half.  I plan on posting a picture with my medal despite how sweaty, exhausted, and crazy I will look.  Excited and terrified best explains how I feel.  Excited to do it and know it puts me closer to other goals and terrified I will not be able to do it.

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I've been known to come around my routes on my bike with some shears and "assist" people with their landscaping where trees, bushes and shrubs hang over the sidewalk; I've also "helped" our Township's Public Works & Streets Department in a similar way along the roadside, where needed

 

The thought has occurred to me.  Many of the properties are rentals too so the landlords are not so diligent on caring for yards.  Some are lazy or unaware homeowners too.  Perhaps such a purchase of garden shears will be in my future.  I admire that you were able to "assist" not only the property owners but all who use the space.

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