So you signed up for a half-marathon?

This past weekend was the 7th edition of the El Paso marathon, including a half marathon, and a 5km. As always the organizers put on a great event. Although, I am sure a few of us would love to have it a bit later, mid March when the weather warms up a bit! Just like last year, I received a few emails after the race along the lines of ‘huh, it’s harder than I thought, how do I get ready for this thing?’ So, here is the short answer, in the form of a 12 week training plan, with the usual disclaimers: 1) see with your primary care physician if you are ready to start a running program; 2) see with your partner if getting up at 5am will endanger your relationship 😉 ; 3) be seen, be alert, run safe; and of course 4) hurry slowly.

Who is the plan for? For those who have done some running already. You run relatively regularly, or you have entered a couple of local 5km (3.1mi) or 10km (6.2mi). And you are attempting a half-marathon for the first time. If you have trouble with distances: a half-marathon is 13.1mi (or 21.1km). So, if you get on the treadmill at 6mph, that’s a little over 2h10. That’s just to put things in perspective. Here it is:

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What does easy pace mean? If you have some rudimentary knowledge of training, see this as aerobic pace, e.g., you can talk while running, not continuously, but pretty close. It actually corresponds to a range of pace. Sometimes you’ll be at the lower end (very easy), sometimes at the upper end, where you can still talk a bit, but it’s a lot more broken.

What are strides? They are short burst of speed. NOT a full sprint, more like an 800m. You focus on being light on your feet, have a relaxed upper body, and a quick stride, but it’s not a sprint. The efforts are just 20 seconds to 30 seconds, and you can rest fully (jogging) in between, say 2 to 3min easy jog in between.

What is tempo? To simplify, consider tempo pace anything from 10km to half marathon pace. You’re not just running easy anymore. It’s mildly uncomfortable to uncomfortable. Since the plan is geared for those who have raced a bit, you should have an idea.

What is the long run? It’s exactly what it says. At the start, it won’t be that long, but it will. And it’s the most important run of the week, so if for some reason, you can’t do a couple of runs during a week, try to keep this one on your schedule.

Happy Training!


Early season racing

The last few weeks have been pretty busy for everyone. This past weekend, Chris raced Ragnar in the Phoenix area. Here is a very brief summary: “Ragnar was good. In short, I had a great time and put in solid runs on all 3 legs(7.1, 7.2, 9.0 miles). My quads are sore as can be today and I can’t do a squat to save my life.” The response to these types of races is overwhelmingly positive. They offer a really fun racing environment, in great locations. I really hope the race series thrives. This is probably on the menu for later this summer.

Maya and I ran the El Paso Half Marathon yesterday. I was doing the pacing, and let’s face it: I did a horrible job. Running without a watch was not a good idea. Anyhow, still a PB, and a 3min improvement over last year.

For the record, just as last year, she beat me to the finish by squeezing her chip just ahead.

Owen was a bit frustrated with a slower than planned 10km (43.23). And that is a good time to remind folks that training is a process. You get a new coach, the training methods change, you are more tired than usual for a bit, and it sometimes takes longer than expected to get the results corresponding to your hard work. Bobby McGee wrote about the process of training recently. And it’s extremely simple:

Over the pond, in Ireland, Shane is enjoying a ‘sunny Irish winter’ to do some really serious work and reap the benefits in races. He took 13th out of 160 or so in a short distance duathlon (4k-14k-4k), averaging 300W on the bike, and a second run within 18secs of the first.

Last, but not least, Arnaud shaved another 3min at Houston Marathon. Last year he improved by close to 30min from 3.27 to 2.56, so it was hard to reiterate. But despite a slightly subpar preparation, Arnaud ran a 2.53.50. That is some very serious running, and there is hope for a 3.10 run off the bike comes Ironman Texas.

Next to race are Corey, running a 25km as a preparation for Boston, Stefan (racing an Olympic Distance in BC — yes, the swim is indoor), and Shane will be racing another duathlon in Sunny Ireland.