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:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 9.29.49 PM

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!


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