The fall race season is quickly approaching and many runners are now in the midst of training for their next big goal.
The half-marathon (21.1K) has become the preferred race distance for many and now more than 60 per cent of finishers are female. If you’ve already been running for a few weeks or months, have run a few 5K or 10K races and are looking to make your half-marathon debut, we’re here to help.
With many of the biggest events of the season taking place in October and November, we’ve created a simple eight-week training plan to help you prepare for your first (or next) half.
The plan consists of several components. The long run (LR) begins at 8K and gradually increases to 18K and develops aerobic endurance and stamina. Speedwork (SW) consists of either 400m repeats at 10K race pace (10KP) or tempo intervals at goal half-marathon pace (HMP). If you don’t have a specific time goal in mind, just focus on completing the distance during each run. In between, take as much rest as the previous repeat or interval took. Speedwork prepares you to run faster, for longer.
Easy runs (EZ) should be done at whatever pace is most comfortable. If you’re not sure what that pace is, try the talk test. While running easily, you should be able to comfortably utter a sentence without gasping for air. If you can’t say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious while you’re cruising along, you’re running too fast!
Cross-training (XT) helps develop general fitness including strength and flexibility and can be anything such as cycling, swimming, yoga, weight-training or even brisk walking. Aim for 20-40 minutes of XT per session. Finally, rest days (OFF) are important to help you recover from the last hard effort and prepare you for the next run.
Before you begin, it’s highly recommended that you already be running 2-3 times per week and can comfortably handle a long run of at least 10K.
|1||OFF||5K EZ||XT||8K SW (4 x 400m at 10KP)||OFF||XT||8K LR|
|2||OFF||5K EZ||XT||8K SW (4 x 5min at HMP)||OFF||XT||10K LR|
|3||OFF||8K EZ||XT||10K SW (6 x 400m at 10KP)||OFF||XT||12K LR|
|4||OFF||8K EZ||XT||10K SW (5 x 5min at HMP)||OFF||XT||14K LR|
|5||OFF||10K EZ||XT||12K SW (8 x 400m at 10KP)||OFF||XT||16K LR|
|6||OFF||10K EZ||XT||12K SW (6 x 5min at HMP)||OFF||XT||18K LR|
|7||OFF||8K EZ||XT||10K SW (10 x 400m at 10KP)||OFF||XT||16K LR|
|8||OFF||5K EZ||XT||8K SW (4 x 400m at 10KP)||XT||OFF||RACE DAY!|
Depending on your schedule, you can switch Wednesday cross-training (XT) for Thursday speedwork (SW).
At any point, cross-training can also be substituted with an easy 5-8K run.
On any day, if you are injured or feel unwell, don’t run. Also, if you can’t do the prescribed distance, just do a bit less.
Remember, you run and race because you enjoy it! Good luck and have some fun!